ARC review of History of Present Complaint by HLR

History of Present Complaint (2021)

By WordPress favorite HLR

Published by Close To The Bone Publishing

After a while, when you’ve spent a lot of time reading poetry online, it’s a damn challenge to find that which sticks. When it does, you know you’ve got a keeper.

Before 2019 and the events described therein, I had been exposed to HLR’s work via Hijacked Amygdala, a Writing Collective . All the miscreants of that collective had gone off the deep end in some form or fashion, and without exception, all of them were bloody good writers irrespective of mental status.

Maybe some wouldn’t find that impressive. I thought it was bloody spectacular.

Sure, it’s easy for some ‘nutter’ to write a bunch of crap on a loo roll and call it art, and who knows? They might win the Booker or the Turner, depending on whim.

But true ability isn’t as easily honed. When you’re plunging in the deep end, the last thing you’re usually able to do, is be a coherent human being.

And while many an artist has produced their finest works when stoned, smashed, mentally impaired, simply mad, it’s more common these days to find well-coiffed Indian youngsters with mesmerizing faces and rich parents, on the poetry best seller list.

HLR is none of the above. In a way it doesn’t matter who she is, except that it really does.

HLR is a mysterious, slightly gorgeous, utterly deviant and exceptionally talented writer and I’d bet my horse on her any day.

From my first encounter with her writing, I was addicted. It isn’t the lesbian in me either, before you ask, but her raw, guttural truth and the ability she has to write like nobody else I’ve read who is still living.

I could easily wax lyrical here, and compare HLR to Plath, Bukowski, Childish, Sexton, or a raft of other notable poets you’d know the names of, and nod approvingly. But that’s not going to cut it.

HLR isn’t a prescription bottle, you can’t take a little blue pill with a cold glass of water and understand her. You have to throw her out of the window, every little pill, and watch where she falls. It’s in her fall, you find her deepest truth.

This couldn’t be exemplified more so than in her debut collection of poetry, History of Present Complaint.

This book is horrifying. Nothing less. I read it in one sitting (perfect length for a kick you in the mouth kind of read that leaves you sweating). To say HLR doesn’t pull back almost makes me laugh maniacally. She doesn’t just not pull back, she’s the fucking ringmaster to this and she’s wields the whip very, very acutely.

So, if you’re faint of heart, naw, don’t go there. Put the dangerous book down and walk the hell away.

This isn’t a gentle read and nobody is apologizing for that. No chance mate.

Let’s get the basics over with:

This is a collection of guttural cries from the unraveling depths of a human being who I happen to know is a really, really good human being and it’s a wonder she’s still with us but a very, very good thing.

This is written by someone who is more naturally gifted at writing than 99.9 percent of poets out there today.

This isn’t something you can forget and you’d better not try.

Okay then.

I’ve worked on #metoo anthologies, and I can’t say I have ever been as disquieted, which I know is a funny old-fashioned term, but so apropos for an age-long disease of society – that is RAPE.

Maybe we need to take the uncomfortable and taboo or pushed under the sofa truths out of their jars now and wake people the fuck UP.

This isn’t the kind of review where you quote ‘clever’ lines and pat the invisible author on the head for accomplishing such great feats.

This author stands with you whilst you read, she’s looking you in the eye, you’re trying to read the book but you’re acutely aware of her staring. It’s a bit like being caught looking through family photos without permission. Yeah, maybe you don’t have the right. Except she’s written this and she’s put it out there, which takes some MONUMENTAL GUTS and you find yourself tongue tied (which you never get, because you’re a verbose so-and-so) in the presence of this. Because it isn’t okay and it isn’t fixed and it’s not safe, and it’s lying on your lap beating its life blood all the way down to the beige carpet.

Dare I be personal and say I can relate intensely to a lot of this. Having lived in the UK before, there are nuances and details that stand out like sign posts pointing to the uncanny ability HLR has for evoking a moment, an era, a time in a person’s life.

And I’ve been her age, I’ve experienced some of the same things, but could I have succinctly and with eloquence and grit, put something like this together? Not in this life time.

HLR is an old soul for every one of her youthful years. She’s actually completely hilarious too, as all very, very clever people tend to be, she’s got that sardonic wit down to a tee and it serves its bilious undertone very well against the horror of the psych ward.

I’m not going to take a quote and put it in isolation to the rest, because this creature she’s whole and she deserves to stay that way. Read all of her or just go away. But don’t, whatever you do, be vanilla.

HLR could possibly be one of the most exciting poets of her generation, and yeah that sounds hackneyed but it’s so close it burns.

She’s not a squeaky clean, healthy, well adjusted young woman. Her dad died. She was really young and she lost her dad. Anyone who says that’s not a huge thing, gets the first kick in the face from me. She’s bipolar, although that’s just an outdated, generalized description that’s overused, but it causes her some massive trouble when awful things happen and she’s trying to cope. She’s an old soul with yellowed finger tips from chain smoking who does her bloody best in a dysfunctional world with a really heavy dose of horror thrown in, just because it can. She’s seen your labels and she’s raised you.

I have read quite a few collections of ‘my time spent in a Psych unit’ and this doesn’t evoke any of them. It’s a story written in blood, with very little distance between the actual moment of it happening and you reading the recollecting. If that doesn’t make the hairs on the back of your neck rise, very little is going to. But like any macabre rendition, it’s also desperately funny and horrifically detailed, guaranteed to dispel any notions of safety.

At times I felt I was reading inside HLR’s brain, the popcorn seizures of her descent and rise, like I inherited the mad vibe and lost my footing. It is this nearness of experience that makes HLR’s writing so genius, yeah, I said it, and I mean it. She’s got ‘that’ ability to crawl into your amygdala and take up residence. It’s pretty disturbing and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Maybe I will quote:

“I will never come back from this

Don’t say that

It’s true. I will never come back from this. If, with the benefit of hindsight, I had the choice between dying in the street and hypothermia and poisoning and those 12 hours in hospital, I’d choose the former, without a doubt. They really hurt me.”

I feel bad for quoting. I feel like I’m wearing a severed piece of a soul on my arm as a handbag by quoting. And yet, it might help you understand the method here. There is no method. You are free of method. This is real writing. It doesn’t need a fucking method. Look around. Use your words. Now THAT’S something.

We lament that art in its myriad of forms, is stale, lacking, aloof. And the purity of this collection is its lack of pretention, self-consciousness and formula. As if you had been there yourself. And there’s a bloody lake of value to that because it’s real, and it pulls you by the throat into the vortex that is trauma and refuses to politely lead you by the hand.

If we are ever going to change, if we are ever going to understand and stop not really giving a shit about sexual violence and mental health and other really important things, then we have to be like this. We have to.

As long as we hide behind formula, ego, methodology, then we may as well keep the same manuscript and just keep changing the name.

“It was real. It was real. It was real to you.”

Should poetry be this visceral? Absolutely.

Should women expose their experiences this blatantly? God yes.

North London. Edmonton. On a Tuesday afternoon, you are sixteen and psychotic and should be at school.”

All that and more. All that and MORE.

I want something real, don’t you?

History of Present Complaint is real. I wish it weren’t. I really do. Because HLR went through this and that bothers me, a lot. But she got up and she wrote this and that’s what she did then and that’s not all she is by any measure, and you’re going to see that in the coming years, I’m damn certain of it.

Sometimes the ones who wanted to die the most, are the ones who can describe living the best.

In fact, I think I should say … I told you so.

They were the liars.

Get your copy here.

Submit your work to these two anthologies


BUT YOU DON’T LOOK SICK: THE REAL LIFE ADVENTURES OF FIBRO BITCHES, LUPUS WARRIORS, AND OTHER SUPER HEROES BATTLING INVISIBLE ILLNESS

AND

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS: REFLECTING ON MADNESS AND CHAOS WITHIN

Indie Blu(e) Publishing is thrilled to announce that we will be starting off 2021 with sister anthologies, But You Don’t Look Sick: The Real Life Adventures of Fibro Bitches, Lupus Warriors, and other Super Heroes Battling Invisible Illness AND Through The Looking Glass: Reflecting on Madness and Chaos Within.

The focus of But You Don’t Look Sick: The Real Life Adventures of Fibro Bitches, Lupus Warriors, and other Super Heroes Battling Invisible Illness will be on writing and art from those living with a chronic but invisible physical illness or disability, such as fibromyalgia, lupus, multiple sclerosis, cancer, digestive disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, migraine headache, dysautonomia, etc.

The focus of Through The Looking Glass: Reflecting on Madness and Chaos Within will be on writing and art from those who are living, or have struggled with, mental illness such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, or psychotic Disorders.

Writers and artists are welcome to submit to either, or both, of these anthologies as applicable to your lived experience.

Given the high volume of submissions that we are expecting, we ask you to follow the submission guidelines as closely.  If you are submitting to both anthologies, please send your submission in two separate emails.  We will begin to review all submissions after January 1, 2021.

Please note that we are not able to offer monetary compensation or free print copies to contributors to these anthologies; however, all contributors will receive a PDF copy of the anthology they are published in. Indie Blu(e) Publishing has prioritized the accessibility of our titles and providing an outlet for artists and writers who might not otherwise get published over profits since we first launched in the fall of 2018.  Keeping 400 and 500 page anthologies affordable globally in a pandemic is challenging.


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But You Don’t Look Sick: The Real Life Adventures of Fibro Bitches, Lupus Warriors, and other Super Heroes Battling Invisible Illness

Anthology Submission Guidelines

SUBMISSIONS ACCEPTED: December 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020

SUBMIT TO: IndieBluSubmissions@gmail.com

SUBJECT LINE:  But You Don’t Look Sick Submission

SUBMISSION FORMATTING GUIDELINES 

  • The maximum number of pieces for submission per writer/artist is six (6).
  • Writing may include poetry, prose, short fiction, essay, and/or creative nonfiction
  • Individual pieces of writing should not exceed 1,000 words
  • Writing should be submitted as a single Word attachment to your submission email.  PDFs are the acceptable alternative if you do not have access to Word.  
    • Please use either 12 point Arial or Times Roman font with 1.15 line spacing.
    • Individual pieces of writing in your Word document should be titled, and separated by Page Breaks (not hard returns). A page break is achieved by using Control+Enter.
    • Special formatting is strongly discouraged.  Bold, italic, and multiple font sizes in a single piece are acceptable.
    • Please title all attachments starting with your first name,last name.  
  • The exception to this is if you design your submission as a ‘camera ready’ JPG or PNG image that we can import into our publication as we would a photo. In that case, you may use any formatting you wish, but the image must be crisp, 300 DPI, and able to be reproduced clearly in black and white. If in doubt, please contact us at IndieBluSubmissions@gmail.com before submitting.  Your ‘camera ready’ writing must be accompanied by the text in a Word (or PDF) version.
  • Artwork submitted for the Anthology must be crisp, 300 DPI, and able to be reproduced clearly in black and white
  • You will be notified if your work is accepted. Please do not consider non- acceptance as any diminishment of your experience, but as with any publishing venture, we must try to fit the individual pieces together into a strong whole.
  • All contributors to the anthology will receive a PDF copy of the finished book

BIOGRAPHY: All submissions must include a professional biography and cannot be adjusted once submitted. Bios should be 75 words or less long and may include your social media links.

You will be contacted directly through your email when your work is safely received for submission.  If your work is accepted for the anthology, you will receive an agreement letter that you need to complete fully, sign and return to us within 10 days. 

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED WORK We will accept previously published work but must have written permission by the previous publisher attached with your submission if they retain rights to your work.

If you own the copyright, your permission and the date and title of the previous publisher must be included at the bottom of your submission. 


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Through The Looking Glass: Reflecting on Madness and Chaos Within

Anthology Submission Guidelines

SUBMISSIONS ACCEPTED: December 15, 2020 through January 15, 2021

SUBMIT TO: IndieBluSubmissions@gmail.com

SUBJECT LINE:  Through The Looking Glass Submission

SUBMISSION FORMATTING GUIDELINES 

  • The maximum number of pieces for submission per writer/artist is four (4).
  • Writing may include poetry, prose, short fiction, essay, and/or creative nonfiction
  • Individual pieces of writing should not exceed 1,000 words
  • Writing should be submitted as a single Word attachment to your submission email.  PDFs are the acceptable alternative if you do not have access to Word.  
    • Please use either 12 point Arial or Times Roman font with 1.15 line spacing.
    • Individual pieces of writing in your Word document should be titled, and separated by Page Breaks (not hard returns). A page break is achieved by using Control+Enter.
    • Special formatting is strongly discouraged.  Bold, italic, and multiple font sizes in a single piece are acceptable.
    • Please title all attachments starting with your first name, last name.  
  • The exception to this is if you design your submission as a ‘camera ready’ JPG or PNG image that we can import into our publication as we would a photo. In that case, you may use any formatting you wish, but the image must be crisp, 300 DPI, and able to be reproduced clearly in black and white. If in doubt, please contact us at IndieBluSubmissions@gmail.com before submitting.  Your ‘camera ready’ writing must be accompanied by the text in a Word (or PDF) version.
  • Artwork submitted for the Anthology must be crisp, 300 DPI, and able to be reproduced clearly in black and white
  • You will be notified if your work is accepted. Please do not consider non- acceptance as any diminishment of your experience, but as with any publishing venture, we must try to fit the individual pieces together into a strong whole.
  • All contributors to the anthology will receive a PDF copy of the finished book

BIOGRAPHY: All submissions must include a professional biography and cannot be adjusted once submitted. Bios should be 75 words or less long and may include your social media links.

You will be contacted directly through your email when your work is safely received for submission.  If your work is accepted for the anthology, you will receive an agreement letter that you need to complete fully, sign and return to us within 10 days. 

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED WORK We will accept previously published work but must have written permission by the previous publisher attached with your submission if they retain rights to your work.

If you own the copyright, your permission and the date and title of the previous publisher must be included at the bottom of your submission. 

Thrive

For some

Can inhabit and thrive without the dark

I am not one

It is my wont to roam

Feel the tickling urge of excitement

Trained out of obedience, dark crystal inside maze

Blister unused tongue on your soft edges as we blaze

However old I grow, the longing unquenched, as linen will wrinkle in the instant of wearing

a woman holding herself in cupped hand as she turns in twilight

To brave the sultry lights, bangled, hennaed arms above my head

Sate the drums pounding in my chest, find trance in your musk

Lie in perfumed beds with long female limbs

Some would say it’s hedonism

Others simply wouldn’t understand

Why a 9/5 existence I cannot swallow whole

Surely there are prices to be paid

A reckoning when the time comes

I’ve seen it in all children of the night

When their fast urgency catches up with them

Such terrors I do more desire, than you

So harness me, make me obey your rule

For nothing I do stops the scald

Consumes my sanity and sets me running

Toward music and the gloom of the periphery

Where we who are cursed must sup, to sate longing

Our blood is not content with daily ritual

We live close to death, in the fury of passion

Short our lives be, they are magnificent

Relics of a time before without constraint

Wild and thirsting for motion we spun the world

Off its bloodied axis

Vapor

V005

Your head moves under hot lights

thrashing

a passion as you open your mouth wide

roar your words

small teeth, thin lips

skin colored by strobes

I want your impulse

your brave furious eyes

your mad flung acrobats anger

it’s the addiction to throwing aside

caution

striking out like match on ink

permanently marking your stride in heat

I watched you take a whole roomful

swallow them whole with your flame-thrower energy

spitting them into stars and tilting laughing

as they adored you and didn’t know why

your mercury vapor left them reeling

clasping my hand in the car with headlights off

driving blind down blurred country roads

inside me with urgency born of

thunder and trees struck silver

firing in strange shapes of want

it felt like flying, I grabbed a tuft of you

spun like a catherine wheel in your orbit

time was fast and everyone watched as

we climbed buildings in our wonderlust

they’re crazy, they’re so in love

they’ll burn out, they’ll extinquish each other

we never did

not until the key stuck, didn’t turn around anymore

rusted and tired of pushing wooden horses

tired in their paint and festoon

oh I would have made them well again

as I did you

just for one more shivering impulse

riding your coat tails as you took in

the capture of your swell

kissing me beneath table tops

our faces glittering from thrown aside masks

hands reaching, climbing up skin

dance of thundering hearts clamoring to be

still

as you lay now, white out, no sound

I dance contorting to cause a smile

there is none

only a wick, half used, half submerged

in waxen reproduction of what was once real

give her back!

give her back!

I yell at rooms without inhabitants

tables missing their chairs

windows containing no view

your fingers trembling in mine

if I could have

I would have

made us one

save this image; a kiss lasting past quitting time

you pull away and reach in again

no ending,  just softness

a song we live inside

calling us home

there we go

hand in hand

through the vapor

vanishing

 

Beneath your coat

Losing your mind feels like

Slipping your chaffed hands into a pair of rubber gloves

Plunging them into hot washing up water

Hearing the chink of porcelain, knocking against glass

Impossibly fragile.

Soon the water grows murky

You cannot see, nor reach the bottom

From the top of your head to the ache in your feet

Standing wooden, bones imploring, knitted sweater itching corner of your cheek

Passion in contrast, hot freedom, dusty legs slightly parted, cold between

An urge as you stand beside the sink

To dive in

Silent impulse on a cold day to keep your hands deep

As long as the water stays hot

That feeling when most of you is dry and clothed, but part

Is submerged in warmth, feeling like fingers working their way up

Stockings, underwear, the electric wire beneath wool

Into the mirage of your longing to let go, absolve yourself of .. it all

If you could release, lie back in kneeding waves

You might let your weary cracked elbows

Then shoulders, sopping, sink beneath

Climbing into the sink, patent shoes slipping

Brassiere faded by multiple wear, a grey strap, a bulge of apricot breast

Hair loose and dripping, reflecting against dull tin

A buttoned up woman trying to gain admittance

All thoughts stewing in your head like vegetables boiled in water lose

Their flavor …

As politely you wash and rinse, checking against light for water spots

No one shall ever know, the devouring urge beneath your coat

Disabused

dee1425102310418306849166b24e12din the shape of hurt

disabused crumbs that should have been cleared up

leave indents in her skin

the dirty light lets in patterns

betraying themselves in dent

sophomoric hush of fan

blowing away evidence

her nose stung

from her plunge

into white rabbit’s secret stash

her thighs burned

from the price

all dare-devils pay

her lips hurt

where he bit them

stain the world red

baby

he said

and pushed her head

down where the glory

hole and the mad hum

met and danced

in fish net

fling yourself open

oh no please don’t

smile until your skin peaks off

they’ll never know

pensive sadness limbering in the wings

hide …. hide

behind the downcast flicker

comedians you see, are often glad to make you laugh

for they get

in audience

to bedazzle

through the glamor you hide yourself

a slow leak of helium

deflating

out of sight

lest we reveal

motioning truth

behind our tight, painted smile

they made a pact

to promise the impossible

and she did

because to her

nothing was impossible

she could hold her breath

swim all the way to the end

rubber bricks don’t scare her

she is made of water

hefting it from its press

her fingers cramp

she tells herself

this is just like every day

we get up …. we hold on

grasping harder, she pulls

surfacing to the sound

of suffered world

with its groans and verucca socks

a response to noise

to lie just beneath

the surface

glimmering

letting fawn dappled light

reach through

Mental Health Month Day Five

With the gravity of Mental Illness in all human societies across the world, I’m devoting a lot of social media presence to garnering awareness of this often lethal disease. Please support this, forward any information you find useful and educate others by reading and sharing our posts to all those who remain ignorant of this awful disease in a community effort to end the stigma and shame.

https://mirrorwithoutglass.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/candicedaquinauthor/

Happy Cinco de mayo !

 

With the beauty of her temperature

15319260_10202291446205021_9072796197672683666_nConversely, paradoxically it has come to

envying the mania

a relief from sorrow

where creation can once more grow

unimpeded by sloth of emotion

covering us like autumn leaves bury unaware

I suffocate every time the heavy hand comes around

and when it is gone I come up for air

but the passage between light and dark is not extreme

not like the mercurial soul who soars high above themselves

I watch them fly so far

I can never muster that much

my energy is a stone well without water

during the darkness hibernation

and when the light shines it only

lightly pierces

like a ray not even sufficient for hope

will wake the sleeping from their nightmare

long enough to know

yes there is another world out there

but you with your rubber gloves around your head

cannot plug yourself in

you are restrained by the amount of light

weak and far ahead

where angels fear to tread

and mania dances hedonistically

with the beauty of her temperature

Recommendations for healing from a distance

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I told a compassionate jurist once, the recipe for understanding the anxious at heart:

the most disturbing clamor, is that of positivities drum

it beats loudly outside their chamber

be grateful for life it proclaims

illuminating sub-text running a ticker tape parade

if you are not grateful you are a bad person

 

for we know, the anxious will always examine

the inverse and underside

as they themselves are examined and categorized

if you say well at least be glad you are not dead

they will consider all those who seek life

so desperately and why they

who remain unsure at water’s edge

do not perish instead

(take my place! take my place!) (what crimes exist within our fates!)

if you say well, it could be much worse

they will consider all the terrible things that can occur

and condemn themselves for any pain

 

it is the nature of the anxious mind to examine

things in detail

so when they’re told to be happy

go to the gym every day and wash your hair

eat right, socialize even when you feel quiet

through positive action you can get a handle on what ails you

the inverse message reads

and if you still feel sad or anxious afterward you are to blame

it is that sub-text that haunts the most

cure is the curse is the cure is the curse

maybe if it were not seen as elective

subj-text: I choose to feel this way

torn into pieces flayed by wolves

a part of me wants to live like this

how absurd

would we say that of someone with cancer?

you know you want this disease! You brought it on yourself!

 

ironically depressed and anxious souls make

good bed fellows

when they say misery loves company it is a judgement

wedged between passive and aggressive

you choose to intensify your downfall is the implication

but in truth

those who will reach for you in the darkness and say

come take my hand I will walk with you and light the way

are many times those least equipped to do it

often it will not be those who think themselves compassionate

they will stand on the fringe and shout

recommendations for healing from a distance

as if the leper who cannot be touched

must stand apart and die in a new brand of isolation

 

the divisions of the haves and have-nots

contributions to misery

like tossing a penny in a well and making a wish

is not as good as causing that wish to come true

by actions

not scolds

not rebukes

Borderline shore

new9I am not yet indifferent to you

but when that day comes

and it will

the memory will not touch me

or cause disquiet

it will be as if you had never existed

a fracture in a line

disorder in our palm

all the things we thought precious

went up in the fire

you lit

what did you expect?

dead people don’t attend funerals

I left behind your ash and your cane

I stayed the part of me that had been driven mad

by your waxing and your wane

she can retrieve the broken parts and throw them on the pyre

I want no more of it

your number is lost

your address a fog

I cannot even imagine what I ever saw

in the dogged creases of you

perhaps I had long-lost

my reasons for why it was you

I held on as an addict does with nothing better to do

slurping lines with pinched nostril and crossed fingers

but now it seems anything is better

than another misfit lock and key

too long I spent underground in your echo

tortured by your guilt and misery

I wondered

can I advance?

without the shackles and weight of years

can I undo the harm you piecemeal? or will I remain

a prisoner?

rotting behind your indifference

then I recalled

how you made me feel I was wrong

not to be beside myself with glee

as you and your weak blend of madness seemed

surfing your mercury with divination rod

I had thought this was true but it was another of your lies

you are the saddest person I know

I do not need to be happy all the time

to enjoy the sun rise

I was never caustic liquor

I ran a little lighter

didn’t need to own the world

to feel a tinge of pleasure

it is my way and now you cannot condemn me

as every day you stuck another splinter between my ribs

sealing me in boxes, sending me on my way

I hadn’t known you were fond of sticking pins in dolls

until they woke me from sleep and I took them out

each hole you made needed repair and some of me

will always find it hard to float without leaking

but anything is better than sharing time with a captain

piloting doomed vessel, short-sight rubbed raw

seeking ruin against borderline shore