Doug is one of the people we work with who is facing tough times. He went to see ROCKBOTTOM recently as part of the Dancin’ Oxford festival, and wrote this poem in response:

When you’re down in that place

Where your mind’s been taken

Hostage by a madman,

And your body writhes and

Twitches in spasms of

Pain and powerlessness,

This is deepest despair.

What you see isn’t there.

What you know can never

Be forgotten or lost.


What window lets in light?

Who cares enough to ask?
Who knows enough to care?

What you see isn’t there.

What you eat is despair,

And it eats you right back.

Guilt, like toothache, never

Lets you go, there’s no rest,

No suckling breast to nurse,

No ease or release there

When you’re down in that place.


And how to describe the

Ever-present cosmic

Loneliness? The freezing

Vacuum of space that

Abhors the living and

Hot-breathed humanity

That plays like a child with

Its world and creation

As if history’s died

Somewhere along the way,

Wash, rinse, repeat. Again.


You drag your body out

Into the wild wasteland

Of fakery and lies

To be preyed upon by

The worst humanity

Has to offer the world.

When you’re down in that place,

Craving the ecstasy

Of love, you find only

The agony of lust.

No transgression enough,

You live the death of love,

When you’re down in that place.


Now I will show you scars

That never healed, and hurts

That stab me like Brutus

Stabbed his Caesar – feeling

Nothing. But this I know:

Only I can purge the

Madman. Only I can

Resurrect my own heart,

And walk again, upright,

Out of that dark place

Into a world of light,

Freed, unchained, whole again,

Dancing, always dancing