Katrina and Dr Mazzner

Rob Harle
by Rob Harle

(An experimental poem in the form of random diary entries set within a frame narrative.)

Dear Dr Mazzner,                         Friday May 8, 1998

i phoned the hospital today to talk to you but your secretary told me you were on holidays for two weeks.

my medication doesn't seem to be working properly. sometimes the voices are screaming. i hope i can hold out 'till you come back.

thought i'd go through my diary to see what's happened over the past few years.

you told me it was a good idea to get my feelings out, remember? "Words on paper can help straighten out your head", you said once. i wonder where you are, enjoying yourself, what's a holiday like?

 wishes, katrina

PS: i'm still waiting to hear from the Church about an apology and compensation, remember your secretary wrote THAT letter?


Personal Diary          18th March 1996

Today i realised i was still alive
the white-coats took me for a walk,
scents of the earth
early flowers and spring buds smiled,
neatly tended hospital grounds
how much i'd missed - did it matter?
drugged, strapped down, electrocuted
incessant blurred nightmare.
today i realised i was still alive.
the future?
memories, fragments of memories
deep-sleep clearing,
bits of someone's life - mine i guess,
was it a year since i went mad?
birds chirped and danced
darting behind happy hyacinths,
puffy clouds looked down - watching me,
would she fall?
the white-coats chatted at a distance
voices, memories of voices
but: no voices, no voices
Oh wondrous day - calm day.
but i was tired
i sat under a huge velvet fig tree,
my body, i still had a body
imagine that, a body that felt.
outside the hospital walls life was moving
cars in the distance, hummed
imagine that, to drive a car
fast - speeding along.

Personal Diary             26th  March 1997

Another year has passed
Clozapine - Valium - benzo haze,
talks with doctors,
getting strong day by day.
i help the gardeners sometimes
they don't talk to me much,
i've planted seeds, some grew
bursting into bloom - a miracle.
gardeners seem full of love,
i wonder if someone will ever love me?
many times in the black night, i wonder.
i wonder?
i'm not mad; I'M    NOT      MAD!
Doctor said i only have an illness
....S C H I Z O P H R E N I A....
big words are hard for me,
i wonder, did i ever go to school?
so i'd remember, i copied schizophrenia,
Doctor Mazzner left me in his room one day.
the green-coats always look at me funny
i don't trust them,
they tell the doctor my thoughts
so they can all plot against me.
trying to get rid of me,
days drift into other days,
i'm getting strong.
Father O'Brien's voice has disappeared,
has he gone forever and ever?
Doctor Mazzner chased him away with Clozapine.
i'm leaving the hospital,
a room of one's own, in the city.
imagine, a room of my own.
i'm really scared.

Personal Diary              3rd April 1997

My own room, ooh ah!
the white-coats helped me settle,
they didn't have their white coats on today
they were incognito, undercover!
ha! ha! - we tricked the landlady.
Mrs Streng terrified me,
No parties! No pets! No noise!
her eyes made me feel cold.
i checked and double, treble checked
no hidden microphones,
no hidden cameras,
maybe they can spy on me through the TV,
"Cover it up with a cloth, silly".
Night time crept in my window,
i was alone
I can't remember being ON MY OWN before
fear lay me on the bed frozen.
suddenly light flashed my window,
i jumped and screamed
go away, go away.
another flash, cautiously i approached
i laughed and laughed,
my only window looked over a bus terminus
empty buses,
empty buses here and there
row after row of empty lonely seats
followed the driver into the unknown.
"Take your medication now",
i must remember to take my medication.

Personal Diary              16th June 1997

i cross days off my calendar
like crossing days off my life.
what is my life?
alone in a tiny room
no one visits,
no one,
no one.
only the white-coats to bring medication.
alone in my tiny room,
no one!
the empty buses tease me
i wonder where they go?
tomorrow i'll follow one.

Personal Diary              17th June 1997

Today i ran after the first empty bus,
ran faster as it disappeared,
around the corner
all sorts of people standing in a line
one by one they moved,
stepping into the blue monster,
i got on too!
i had money
the white-coats gave me some,
Clozapine - Valium - money - food,
"How are you?
"See you next week" - bye.
they hardly ever look at me
i don't trust them.
the bus purred along,
ooh, more passengers,
a man sat next to me
i froze.
"Morning" he said,
opening up a huge newspaper,
i should read newspapers too,
too many words might confuse me.
i should try to be like these people,
yes, i'll try.
"Where are you going?" i asked timidly.
"To work of course".
He didn't look up from his paper,
maybe i should try to work?
"How do i get a job?"
i gazed at the shops speeding past
a sign,
a sign in an office window
WORK VACANCY - Apply within.
i jumped up, squashed the man's paper
and rushed to the front bus door,
stop the bus!
the driver looked at me as though i was mad,
i'm not, Dr Mazzner told me
stop the bus now!
the driver screeched to a halt
everybody laughed,
i ran back up the street towards
the sign.

Personal Diary              24th July 1997

imagine, i've been working for five weeks
i cross the days of my calendar,
work close to my room
cleaning out the dirty, empty buses.
i work each night,
i'm not scared
all the lights are blazing
the empty buses haunt me though
the morning's passengers at home
with family, friends
with boyfriends and girlfriends
i wonder if i'll ever have a friend.
i can't talk to people,
they read my thoughts
hurrying away,
sometimes they laugh loud
sometimes they snigger.
i even bought new clothes
new hairstyle, ooh!
i look just like the passengers.
Dr Mazzner called yesterday
two white-coats followed behind,
i said, "The drugs make me too tired"
He said, "We shouldn't reduce the dose"
i said, "we must"
He said, "I'm worried"
i said, "Don't worry, i'm getting strong"
He said, "OK, just a small reduction"
the white-coats didn't say anything
just smiled,
sneaky suspicious smiles,

Personal Diary            8th September 1997

the Valium haze is lifting,
each day,
stronger and stronger.
Bang! Bang!
Mr Security Guard likes to frighten me
hits his truncheon on the side of the bus
"Don't sneak up on me!"
i tell him every time,
he roars laughing and marches off.
i find things in the empty buses
traces of lives,
lost property
i keep some things
my only link with people.
i hide them in my room
i found a black wallet today,
framed inside
family photo, some money, driver's licence,
imagine zooming along in a car
passing the slow blue monsters.
a family photo
a lady, two children.
i study the photo
and start to cry loudly
louder and harder
i woke up with the sun burning,
my window glass.
i had to destroy the photo
so i burnt it on the stove ring,
the plastic burnt my fingers
it stuck hot,
i couldn't get it off
i screamed out in pain.
"Everything all right?" growled Mrs Streng.
go away you old busybody
i screamed through my door,
then cried alone,
and cried
and cried.

Personal Diary           9th October 1997

ENERGY! had to use up energy
go for a walk
walk see Dr Mazzner
walk to see Dr Mazzner's hospital
yes yes yes.
when i leave my room
i hide my secret things,
i hide them in the oven.
never use the oven,
never learned to cook
i eat from packets and cans.
passing people fast
shops of people fast
cars and buses full of people fast
strangers strangers strangers.
an old man stumbled over the gutter
i leant over to help him
"Leave me alone", he grumbled
he wanted to be alone
i don't want to be alone anymore
faces bombarded me laughing sneering
reading my thoughts
i ran towards a lane way
crashing into a priest at the corner
looking up from the ground i screamed
"Father O'Brien. No! No! No!.
ice surged through my body
i choked on cold fear
"What ever's the matter my child?"
i screamed out, "Get away"
and ran off wildly,
through zooming cars,
knocking people over.
room, my room,
had to get to my room
i collapsed on my bed
Father O'Brien's voice penetrated my soul
wicked child,
you wicked, wicked child.

Personal Diary            15th March 1998

(recollection of 10th October 1997)

memories came back
not traces, not bits
huge chunks of burning memories.
foster parent's cruelty,
locked in tiny cupboards
starving for days,
being shuffled around like a thing,
never belonging,
never anywhere long enough to belong.
i longed to belong,
i prayed for help
the agony of Father O'Brien abusing my body,
he'd force me to pray after he hurt me
he hurt me so many times
he told me to pray because i was wicked,
he told me the devil lived in me
my voices were the devil's voice.
Now Father O'Brien's voice kept screaming
i held my head
wicked child,
you wicked, wicked child.
i lay on my bed frozen with fear for days,
"Get your pills!"
"Get the Clozapine!"
i crawled across the floor
wicked, wicked child ha! ha! ha!
i'll make you pay for your wickedness.
tomorrow -  when we're alone.
i gulped down a handful of pills,
the lights faded
my mind numbed
the room faded into darkness.

Personal Diary           6th April 1998

i'm back in my room
months have gone, how many?
a blur
too many days not crossed off the calendar
i must start again
i'm still alive, how? why?
trying new medication - RISPERIDONE
they treat me like an experiment
i'm a person you know!
i can't talk to people,
i can't socialise,
i know i'll never have friends.
i can't watch TV
they all laugh and have fun,
i can't join in
they never answer me when i talk.
i bought a potted house plant,
a weeping fig,
i need some company.
i wonder if plants like people
i wonder,
weeping fig do you like me?

Personal Diary           6th April 1998

The buses come and go,
flashes of memories come and go
ECT fades my memories
big words still frighten me.
flashes of light now and then,
all my people links are gone
Mrs Streng must have stolen them
she spies on me,
steals my things when i go for walks.
i walk in the park each day
i talk to birds and flowers
i have to talk to someone.
Dr Mazzner's secretary typed a letter for me, she said,
"This will get an apology from the Church”,
i kissed the letter for luck
dropping it carefully in the post box
i'm feeling agitated waiting,
waiting, waiting.
i start crossing days of the calendar
i don't feel much pain anymore
sort of - just numb
too numb to even cry.

Cardinal Bell
The Church of Australia
GPO 666
Canberra ACT 2601

1st June 1998

Dear Katrina,

Regarding the letter sent from Dr. Mazzner’s office concerning your claims of abuse by Father Obrien we can find no evidence that you were ever abused, sexually or in any other way, in the said Diocese. Therefore any claims you have against Father O'Brien and the Church will not be taken any further. They are clearly a fabrication of your imagination.

However, in keeping with the growing number of genuine abuse claims against the Church, which have been resolved in the claimants’ favour we admit that it is possible you could have been abused. We apologise if this ever happened and offer you the enclosed cheque as a token of compensation. This compensation in no way constitutes an admission of guilt on the part of The Church.

This matter is now closed.

Cardinal Bell


Dear Dr Mazzner,                2nd June 1998

finally, this letter arrived from The Church yesterday morning.

as you can see the lying creeps deny everything but still offer compensation? for me, reading between the lying lines, this is a complete admission of guilt by The Church.

i don’t care about the money offered but i now feel like a new person. a huge weight of false guilt for all these years has suddenly been lifted from me. it has just vanished, GONE!

I know i’m going to get better now, i’ll see you next week to get some lighter medication.

wishes, katrina

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