Mad as Adam

A free-form poem, or narrative, that requires little explanation. A genuine example of the problems faced in prison where you cannot choose your neighbours. This can lead to exceptionally traumatic experiences, some of which I have tried to document through my poetry. There were some very strange events around the writing of this piece which I cannot discuss in this sort of forum.

Mad as Adam

Damned dubious this jaded Janus

A prison personality of palindromic propensity

This Adam needs no Eve, nor Eden’s garden

In his twenties, tallish, thin

Sad, sullen, sunken eyes that crave no contact

Curly black hair, black threadbare beard

Draped in poorly fitting prison clothes

Shod in black, shabby, shapeless shoes

That aggravate his gawky, gangling gait


He spends his time almost entirely

In his insalubrious, apocalyptic cell

Citing stanzas of satanic superficiality

His short-lived, shambling sorties

Along the linoleum-lined landings

Only serve to observe; the offices and the officers

Or to fetch his food: formidable, forbidden fruit

He stares out the windows when confronted with the gaze of another


At exercise time, he paces up and down

Alone, unlike a normal prisoner

As he steps forward his head moves back

Like a dog in a car’s rear window

He shakes no human hand

Nor touches any potentially polluting parts

Of the passing, prison population


He comes to my cell sometimes, seeking succour

Muesli, white bread, oats, sugar or something sweet

Any untouched matter that might aid his meditation

He talks occasionally of his contacts in Qatar

But mostly of marvellous, mysterious, magic

Stones that send signals

Particles that penetrate and persecute

Practising the Black Arts

Beware these eyes of Mars!


We are next door neighbours

Separated by a pathetic, paltry, partition

He paces the floor as if a caged animal

Talking in terrifying torrents

Invoking an invisible inmate

Inhabiting the inner reaches

Of his gloomy, doom-laden room


The beats of his feet keep my mind from sleep

In desperation, one night, I bang on the wall

The attempt to attenuate this ante meridiem noise

Yields alarm and surprise

“Who’s banging?” he cries

As if I, too, harbour a ghostly guest

He is rarely rude, seldom crude, but often animated

He reminds me that any complaints should be addressed

To his supernatural cellmate, or those on the landing above


One day, when I return from work, he is waiting

He invites me into his “flat”

His delirious description of a prison cell

Suddenly, he locks the door to better concentrate my mind

He knows that I have psychic powers and vertiginous visions

I explain that I cannot comprehend

All this marvellous, mysterious magic

On a copy of the Financial Times that I had given him

He points to where were written the names of the planets

In his opinion, indubitable proof of my potency

In my opinion, an attempt to solve the crossword

I explain that, in any case, the writing is not mine

That I had passed the paper to someone else before him

Unconvinced, he warns me of his powers

The end is nigh unless I submit to something

The fearful object of my submission is unclear

I beat a hasty retreat and lock myself in my cell

Determined that Adam, damned to madness

 Should be in another type of institution

Along with so many in this madhouse