The Happy Bus by Louisa Campbell

Louisa Campbell, a former mental health nurse, grew up coping with her childhood by dissociating: splitting off difficult experiences into different parts of her personality. She writes as adult and child, therapist and patient, and even as a dog, as she charts the bumpy ride from dissociation, through anger, depression and anxiety to clarity, peace and joy. She hopes anyone who has had to lock away painful emotions might find something useful within the lines of her poems. She lives in Kent, England.


I don’t-won’t-can’t remember…

how you had me
hook, line and sinker.
Abusers have tentacles,
eye patches, cutlasses;
don’t play piano,
shop Marks & Spencer.

I don’t-won’t-can’t remember
my pretty dream –
angel fish, flitting,
seahorses, tilting,
seaweed, drifting –
flooding back to me in daylight,
inked dark, morphed
to circling sea mines, lurking.
Then I would run to you,
beg you to pray
and you would;
in your own, clipped way.

Today, I found a dusty photograph
– somehow survived my cull.
There I was, gingham dress,
backdrop: wallpaper printed with
angel fish, flitting,
seahorses, tilting,
seaweed, drifting.
Bedroom? Bathroom?
Was the dream real?
Did the sea creatures watch while
I don’t-won’t-can’t remember
what happened? Is that when I became this
mermaid with stuffing sucked out;
this landed, gaping fish?

Some children swim
away to an island.
Some children sail
to the other side of the world.


“Louisa Campbell’s poetry is wild and daring. It crackles with giant passions and relentless, surging energy. Questions surrounding mental health, childhood and parenting are brought to life with honesty, intensity and a perceptive ear. This is writing that is unafraid to be intimate, investigating dark truths at the core of the self through imagery that achieves dizzying heights. By turns poignant, terrifying and exuberant, The Happy Bus steers the reader through a landscape of dazzling colours.” – John McCullough

“A great ear, her words link to each other for sound and affirmation; zany and there for us; a new voice negotiating with poetry, rather than someone trying to make poems in the style of.” – Ira Lightman


The Happy Bus is currently available to buy on the Lulu website. Coming soon to Amazon, or to order directly from the author and/or publisher.