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

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The unlit room

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like a surveyor of tea leaves or coffee grains

you have only seen the bad in me

mama, there is more than that

so forgive me if I hope, you don’t read this

though as I write in the unlit room

with unfurling gloom of coming dark

shadows whisk past in fast motion

like hunting birds intent on victim

pictures of another life

when I close my eyes I hear your voice

imagine home, it includes you

exile is a word I find hard

thinking we’d find a way all these years

my child heart foolishness

we try to repair the mauled favorite toy

we try to reclaim the torn moment

but time moves on and people

betray each other as easily

as reading congealed tea leaves

so read them, tell me my fate

I am sure you think you know

and as the words come pouring out

each one designed for maximum hurt

I will grow away from you like a plant

facing determined shadow will

strain toward the purity of light

I didn’t want this

it wasn’t my wish, the choice was removed

but I am, contrary to your belief

not dying of my own poison

the illness within me

will be healed

and that part that blames me for everything

lying in you, a furious envelope

that tells me I am responsible for my suffering

will meet

the karma we all must face

when cruelty is reflected back at us

I had hoped so much all these long years

for your mercy and your presence

but as they told me

you cannot long for something you never had

cannot make someone feel what they do not feel

you asked me why I called today

I knew you would lash out, I knew it would hurt

and maybe like a penitent I felt

saying goodbye and letting you know

I love you, was worth the scald

because I had a dream

it was a dream I lived a long and healthy life

it wasn’t with you and you were not there

somehow I still smiled and carried on

and when I woke I wanted to ask you

how could I ever live without you?

when you brought me into this world

I know your voice, as I know myself

and I have loved you more than anyone

but I already hear the answer

burning the silence of my stare like a

forgotten match wicking itself to fabric

devouring oxygen and matter like

a scream will penetrate quiet night

I know, in the slick loathe of your tone

the way you know just how to plunge the knife

you don’t need me you say, you never did

I am an unwanted thing, better disguarded

let loose to tumble into the past, better never born

and though I may not know it now

you set me free as I forgive the ache

letting go of all those years of chasing

those folded sorrowful times of indifference

to claim what we should all have

the knowledge of real love

instead of being reminded of

someone who never thought you worthy or special

who happened to give birth

with the anger of a condemned prisoner

Oh and I wish

I could go back in time and undo

that bloody hour

where you never had

to endure the pain of bringing me into the world

for surely

I would

that is the point of unconditional love

you give even when it hurts

and I would dissolve me to save you

but it is too late for that

and for wishing I had a daughter

I could pour my heart into

but I will find something else

maybe out there in the wild where

people do not carve out pain with

the sharp edges of their own

and when I told you I would always love you

I meant it

even as you push me away one last and final time

which I accept

with the gait of one who knows

she has more life ahead

in the bowers of empty space

among the fir trees growing like prayer

toward the glassy reflecting heavens

it will not always be so sad

it will not always be so sad

 

Turkish delight

alexander-yakovlev-dancers-everythingwithatwist-17I didn’t have time to un-knot my hair or brush it down

it used to hang to my thighs and I had to cut it

when the sickness came and I was green with bile

all those years I held my hair as my calling card

for I had nothing else

so when you see me this way you know

I’m not pretending anything anymore, this is me

this is the girl you once loved

I remember thinking I was old back then

what a laugh

and time is a cordial of horrors and trickery

what we need to know is, it’s all in the eye of the beholder

so if I feel tired and beat up now, remember, I tell myself

in ten years I will rue the day I forgot to dance

I dance now

bare footed with dirty soles

to the memories of

our liquid union

and planes do not fall out of the sky

the day is quiet

despite the tornado in my mind

I would let you in and not let you out

shut inside me like a favorite book

chapter marked by the sinew of my want

clasp you tightly with my muscular need to belong

within your kaleidoscope, a star in your universe

behind these accoutrements and forbids  I burn electric

you never get too old for longing

I want you to take me in your arms

crush me into sugared pieces

eat each one and never spit me out

I want to become you and stay

inside your candied warmth

where amber things are less real

set in time to wait out storm

but you care about them more

as part of your compass, to set your destination

I was born of your desire

I am now without wing

soon I will fade into pieces

and nobody will pick them up to eat

 

 

Warning

What if my mother

Who was gone

Did not warn me about you

And so

In the glib night

As I stood wanting to be plucked

From a latch key evening

The cluck and cacophony of

People filled with water

You circled my arm with a snare

With decision and madness there

Made a drink of me

Threw it down your chain-smoking throat

Carrying me on your back like a crab

We waded shorelines

Rinsing the regret for not being as others appear

Bone straight and glistening in their eagerness

We’d been born jaded and recognized

In the other that temporality

A godless place of zero and

Dirty much used sheets

Absorbing the stink of best intention

It was your howl in my womb and my opening ever trusting

Nothing can be as it says or is

There’s only this

The you of a rough hand holding me down

A choking, painful exorcism

In my nil

The bones just beneath skin

And you letting yourself in

After hours

A weight of assumption

More honest for its lack of anything

You do not attempt to please

Or deceive

For ours is not a caring place

Only savagery and hurt exist to sate

The otherwise empty arms of loving

Shade

There are

played

unwashed moments of

circumference

like silk wars

beneath unspoken seige

words hard to cleave

shape the ancestor

filling hallway with

limit and possibility

as day turns golden outside

we remain in shade

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

Ageing

Older woman holding young maskThe grime that won’t lift from underneath fingernails

is the yellow glimmer of youth

uncaring it is messy and rigorous

when you can live unbrushed

climbing from bed to public without spending

an hour examining your face, patching scars of endurance

when did age, creep so effortlessly into expression lines?

when did light, become so certainly, a foe on certain days?

as if inhabiting mood explained itself in the creases of your skin

you may deflect, somersault and berate

after all so many years wearing your emotions within

bound to spill once the cork is sodden

those hours you thought nobody saw

burning candles between pinched fingers

rubbing sulphur on volcanos urge

how many tears and ache does it take?

to leave emotions wreckage like single moment captured in paint?

who is the photographer who knows how to unearth

our secret selves hiding in wainscoting and plaster

of the past?

I understand why women plump their gaunt hollows

filling their lips with plastic hope, to go a few more years without

showing the world their chapped inside

they seek their former selves, to feel warmth of sun

on unfreckled necks

perhaps it would not sting if love could wear age well

when you are hot faced and tear streaked

wiping in one stroke and smiling

everyone believing the dress you wear is new and unwrinkled

such is the forgiving fabric of youth

succor for the gentle hearted, sugar for the brave

now in unforgiving light you see the evidence of age

lying on your face like a lover will unwittingly expose themselves

in a flicker, in a mere blink, beauty reduced to ungainly

for what we cannot see is more intriguing than

all the dilapidated truth behind our eyes

as much as we may wish to express ourselves

not that candidly, not as if pinned by wings to cork board

spread for all to see every instant of our writhe

biographies of the years, footprints of etched grief

can’t hide the truth as you age, can’t help but reveal

if I leave now without putting on my face

combing my hair over the deepening lines

hiding behind color, clothes, artful turn of head

if I don’t literally prepare myself

like a carefully followed recipe

or posed selfie empty of truth

I will feel as if I am walking naked in public

no skin on my feelings to disguise the years

I have been trying to get well

 

tell me?

is that why contentment is much like a cake

rising beneath warm air

and disappointment a river

shallow and fast

is that why they say joy can be seen in a person’s smile?

and sadness will devour, even the best actor

looking at my fracture, I resemble every melancholy spent

like old wine will eventually revert back to sugar and sediment

settling cloudy at the bottom of a carafe

buoyed no more by light