The Green Canteen

The Green Canteen

During our search for Ian’s mental well-being, this is the journey we undertook at Springfield hospital. Plus waiting in their green canteen.

Springfield Hospital

“The last resort”

I will try to write something
However mundane
Every Tuesday for 15 weeks
At about half past three.

Your life is being prepared
Like the drink in the machine
And the stories you tell
To avoid washing up

I hear tales behind me
Of industry and action
And I find myself wondering
Why the fuck am I here?

In the wreckage and ruins
Of a Victorian philanthropist
Whose vision of the lonely
Is turning hotel-wards.

A restful stay for all he hoped
He might have though it possible
But all I see is emptiness
And cars and trees and grass.

The shuttered rooms
And shattered lives
That lie within this place
Are what it is – the last resort.

Springfield Hospital

“Panic Attack”

Panicking sweaty
Rigid eyes staring
Out of greasy face
Holding stiffened sheets
Up to shoulders.
Palely scared
Goose pimpled flesh
Lonely heart pumping
Holding stiffened arms
Up to surrender.

Magick and loss


You can tell the staff
They carry laptops I wonder if
I carry one will I be cured?
They know the Code to the door
I will watch and wait.
Patients fiddle with their hair
If I lose it will I make it?
Staff have cars so do we.
If I pedal will I be free?
They park where they shouldn’t
I shall clamp them and walk away.
It says give way as I turn up
Why should I?
A man walking in a triangle
I hope he has the right angle
To get out. Talking about
People they don’t know
Colleagues are patients too.
Analysis on the corner
You with papers me with luggage
Who’s the winner in this meeting?

Phoning in sick

“Going over”

Going over the notes
Discussing it all
In the green canteen
That haven of carers.

The expansive hand gestures
Intensive expressions
A tie half undone
Because of the heat.

The sweat’s in your head
Your hand’s up your arse
I wish I was green
But the mould’s turning grey

As I wait and I wait
In that still silent space
No moving, no talking
And no fucking treatment.

Springfield Hospital

“The Green Canteen”

Here in the green canteen
Waiting for Ian.
The voices that burble
Their useless efficiency
Here in the green canteen
Waiting for Ian.

I worry about him
In the green canteen.
So hopeful and hopeless
Aware of the problem
Alert to the cause
Waiting for Ian.

If I could change lives
At the click of a finger
The first thing I’d do
Is paint the walls blue
In the green canteen
Waiting for Ian.

The Green Canteen


Your tails and misdemeanours
Are inside a nice box file.
Those happy childhood memories
You walking up the aisle.

A post-it note is all you get
And a casual thumbing through.
I wonder if this kind of life
Is anything like you?

Springfield Hospital


Sometimes I want to scream at you
Until my tongue bleeds
And my teeth fly out of my head
Like darts into your unfeeling face.

Sometimes I want to shake you
Until your thin white body
Turns into jelly in my hands
And sinks into a red pool at my feet.

Sometimes I want to slam a door
So hard that the frame splinters in my skull
Destroying the last vestige of my brain
Leaving me empty of feeling forever.

Sometimes I want to love you
So hard that we are welded together
In a furnace of freedom from pain
And the misery that dogs your every step.

By Sarah Springham, 1952-2019

Essential SSL