Mental Health Awareness Week

She doesn’t look sick…..

She isn’t sick.

But a black hole is eating her from the inside out.

The devour has no real description

It defies the usual ones, it has a wider mouth, deeper jaw, longer bite

The thing of it is .. the shame .. that’s the worst part

The little voice which sometimes sounds like your mother and sometimes sounds like every voice that ever said; What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you snap out of it?

Sometimes … a day will be piercingly beautiful … like the most beautiful song you ever heard and every sense will be electrified

And still you will long to fall on the ground sobbing

If they saw you they would ask; What’s wrong? It’s a beautiful day! Why can’t you appreciate life! Are you ungrateful?

And you would nod your head and admit; Yes I must be ungrateful. How else can you explain it?

For those who believe in God, you feel stricken, maybe you feel God is punishing you for some transgression with the black dog who never leaves your side

If he does leave then you know he will return and it is just a false waiting game, a pose of chess pieces with their fates already inscribed

They talk about other things that matter and feel empathy, sympathy

But when someone has a mental disease they are considered weak, inferior, selfish, inadequate

Wherever you go – there you are

Sometimes you wonder why it is you can write so much in November and nothing through July.

As if a giant claw had possessed your feelings and sank its nails deep into your marrow

When you date people you feel as if you should come with a disclaimer;

I may look pretty, I may have qualifications and a clean house, but beneath this surface please note … I am subject to changing and crying when the sun shines for no discernible reason

Sometimes in the middle of a party you want to run away from the crowd and bury your face in the grass out in the forest – feeling more alone than if you were locked underground in a prison cell

Often there is absolutely no way of describing this so you simply do not and that sets you apart as someone who carries a dark feeling without a voice

Occasionally someone will remark on the sadness in your eyes and you will smile as hard as you can to dispel it because it feels like a giant stain that everyone could see

If they cared to

Many times in subtle ways people will show you that they think you are weaker than them in the little methods of selection and choice

Family will condemn you and sharpen the quill when you are down because it is easier to kill a deer when it has fallen

You try to be grateful and you are, but it never seems so in the midst of sadness because sadness will devour any gratitude whole

And lovers will tell you … you’re not even happy to be with me are you? And you want to say, oh yes I am! But the sadness will envelop your voice and they will leave you … disappointed

There isn’t a week of mental illness, there isn’t a day for depression. There are years upon years upon years

And little adverts on TV about “If your current anti-depressant isn’t working considering taking (and paying) for another one to boost it!” Just fill you with impotent rage.

Often, you feel you are not worthy simply because you are depressed, it is a stigma that invades every aspect of your being, you believe you are not worth the same as others because of the darkness you carry around on your back

In the early morning when you lie in bed and the first rays of sun come through your window, you may forget who you are, and decide you are not going to be labeled or given a description, you are going to be

free

and that may last a while until the next time you feel like blowing your brains out

and then it’s the greatest betrayal you ever felt and it seems as if you do it to yourself

like a hand inside a black velvet glove

stroking dreams until they grow cold

The surge & still

I had a friend
who, grown on corn in south Texas

lamented the lack of people

for she saw

only dry land stretched like a fried gut spotted with tumbleweed

I had a friend

who grown on concrete and painted faces, bricked up in city smite

longed to rid herself of bussle

walk out into emptiness like

a star explorer 

I knew both the longing and insilubrious pull 

of city magnet

its desolation and feeling apart in a crowd

the surge and still 

of expectation and liquor 

I knew the raw blister of

a pure and scathing emptiness 

nursing a need to create syllable of void 

two extremes, no unity

can betwix between as jugglers, relieved of balance will continue motion

I was born in cold city breast 

disgorging from its loins the dour faced babes of 21st century ad-lib 

my elbows broken at gold vein

between reaching and closing off

crowds or empty skies? 

noise or bird call? 

city folk looked agast as I packed into concertina, the music of my life and let it out in one sonorous exhale

how will you bear the solitude? They asked

nothing is more lonely than isolation in a crowd, I replied

but what of the museums and new trends and restaurants? 

I can live without the majesty of men, I said

It has always seemed inflated and grandiose

there is more meaning in a dessert rose, than anything we in our dominion, believe worthy

we are spectacle at best, a blight in our thirst to take up all the room

the richest man is one who inhabits an unkept land

with all the wild flowers come into bloom

Flung

2590c0d371273807a2ebdc59d77c1595Fling yourself open she said

Oh no please don’t !

Smile until your skin peaks off they’ll never know or see

The pensive sadness waiting in the wings

Hide hide

Behind this fading ballroom grind

Comedians you see, are often glad to make you laugh

For they get to quiet their own demons

Show off, bedazzle, purchase a moment not your own

Through the glamor hide thoroughly

A slow leak of helium

Deflating in falsetto voice

Out of sight we stand in front of the world wearing our curse

A red bow tie, unraveling into rope, garters make a sordid welt

Lest we reveal

Lest we reveal

The truth

Behind broken smile

IF

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If depression were a shadow

when it is my shadow

waking me up with glass behind my eyes

replacing authentic feeling with

stifled, muffled, agonies

depression tells me; don’t get your hair cut

the hair dresser will stare too hard and you cannot

bear to be scrutinized as your father who called you

many things like plain-faced and ungainly but most of all

stocky leading to a starvation worthy

yes that father who because of his own mental defect

could not really stand long in the sun of parenthood

you’d have been better off loose and lopsided

with latch key children

to climb dog piss stained trees that barely held your weight

as they pushed through concrete with white pealing hands

as city green must

an effort make

we would chew on wild rhubarb, give ourselves stomach aches

eat dandelions and wild plums and share a precious few

hard-boiled sweets sticky in our pockets

some turned our mouths the color of tar

behind the corrugated iron where bombed out houses

stand like disfigured moments

collapsing in tombed neglect

we chased skinny wild cats and built fluttering camps

fortresses around destruction and sadness

something I learned to carry inside

when I sought to travel far from the city

its anonymous bricked faces

lending little grace

when I said goodbye to prefab family who

had their own lives

I was an appendage

needing to find my tribe

instead inheriting faulty DNA

tingeing my wake with sorrow

much as I tried

even on the warm days I wore leg warmers

pretended to be auditioning for FAME

when I ordered a hot chocolate and watched curling waves

change sequined shoreline in slow swell

though the world amassed around me

glorious and glittering like water touched by fire

as bleating sun dipped low against horizon

I could not find a way to feel unburdened

or climb aboard the impulse to slough skin

care nothing of what others would say

try hard as I could to become

laughter

that ephemeris

out of reach … thing

Anything seems possible

image002.pngEating peanut butter always reminds me of the night a gay man tried to seduce me

the irony is I never ate peanut butter until I became American

nor did I have any gay male friends

they thought me too girly with my waist-length hair, frilly frocks and high socks

an object easier for ridicule, there are status levels of coolness I didn’t care about

because I didn’t fit in with their ideas just as they were not

societies chosen children

it seemed a shame two outcasts wouldn’t bridge the gap

but Rick did, he was he said, a Bear in the gay world

what does that mean? I wanted to know

it’s a kind of look he said

there are others, like geek, school boy, father

why must you have labels when society already forces them?

maybe that’s why we do, he said and looked sad

which was an unusual thing because he laughed all the time

you know what they say about comedians and how

they make others laugh because inside they hurt

and he was left handed-too like me

maybe he did resemble a bear

 

so when I sat on his lap in the bar and he whispered

the feel of you is driving me crazy

I gave him a double-look

those words can’t be coming from you

I thought I was safe on a queer man’s knee

you’re not safe on any man’s knee in this country he said

we’re no longer in France and it’s not du rigor

all men want sex, gay men may be gay but they still

sometimes take to bed the occasional woman

I hadn’t known that

the lesbian world was more rigid with thick rule books

and tightly closed legs

it was hard enough to sleep with another woman

lesbian-bed-death and all

but men? A few who couldn’t get pregnant with turkey-basters

fell in love with their male donors

but only on a full moon

and whilst I made no habit of sitting on men’s knees usually

the bar was heaving with sweating twenty year olds

and he was gay and I was gay and everyone should be gay and do a little dance

except I was sad and lonely and Rick complained that

men down the leather bar thought 30 was old so he feared

the day when he would be irrelevant and nobody would desire

his gentle paunch and diminishing hairline

I told him that day will never come you matter to me

and we both saw how we filled each others needs

better than someone of the same-sex ever could

which seemed a painful irony

I might have drunkenly slept with him if I didn’t

already know he’d been promiscuous

and I am a responsible child of the AIDS era and

not fond of navigating awkward mornings

he might have slept with me the way a lonely boy

finds a hole in any surface

to release the places he keeps hidden

then we wouldn’t have been friends

and that would have been the last time

I’d sat on a boys knee, queer or straight

so I wouldn’t have seen you on stage performing or

your ex girlfriend staring at you with open-mouth desire

when she was supposed to be courting me

that night I learned a little about people

I would have understood less from the back of the room

forgetting the advantages of the heterosexual girl

smoking a black cigarette and knocking back my gloom

for minority status isn’t all about being different

it can be the loneliest place in the world

and even dyed in the wool queers

have fantasies about knights, princes and castles

when the room is dark and oily

and anything seems possible