The necessity of being

Men came out

Women emerged

No children

The children were gone

What happened the first month?

Outside bars and cement

Away from gas chamber

When legs and arms, mere bone

Unshackled could move once more

How

Did you pick up your lives then?

Learn the grace of living 

No one has ever said

Something so horrific cannot be vented

It can only transform into fire

from survival we are born, once more

A second life

Not a child, not young

Nor unscathed, but covered in scars

They are our metal, winking silver and rose 

We do not stand in new bones

But those that know the feeling of kneeling

Begging for the end to come

And when it did not

When we survived

Despite their best attempt to smother

It is a land of ash and terror 

To navigate and put back together

Those shattered pieces of self 

Willing meaning from devestation

How? 

With the blood of ancestors, fresh

Seeing them led to their deaths

Courage in silence, in suffering

How?

When nothing is left but the last straw 

And it erupts into flame, burning everything you were

How?

Do you design again a day, a week, a year?

With a face enured by fear

Used to screaming in the dark

How?

To go past the horror and walk into a new life?

We do it by taking the broken pieces of us

Head in the oven, wrists slashed in bathroom

Pill bottles strewn about like flotsum

All our aborted attempts to shut the terror out

We take the gore and the furnace

The golem and the hangman

In our minds eye we stand among graves

Tasting human ash whilst behind us chambers cough out families

And if that doesn’t kill us 

Nothing ever will

Because when you stand on the far side of fear

Your heart extinguished and cold, a lifeless thing

There is only survival

We are the feral leftovers

We rebuilt ourselves from nothing 

Like from clay we came, so again, a second coming

To defy the proximity of evil

We are the ones who refused to cease

Standing when nothing held us up

But the necessity of being

(For all who perished in the death camps and all who survived.)

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Inheriting the wind


Confessional poets

Are thought of in the feminine perjorative

Ironically men 

Confess their camoflage

When calling their characters Hank

That’s for you … Mr blowhard Bukowski

Or Billy Childish, nuff said, I suspect

Whilst this Plath enigma, I doubt shall ever be cracked

Anymore than the grey stones weighting sweater

Sexton either, what beautiful ankles and rouged lips

Even as she slipped, beneath the veil of sanity

Like a greyhound needing to outrun, even itself

Madness grows peacock feathers for weeds

Just another error in a misguided map

Thinking women lesser, colinders of experience

If I’d been a man I’d have 

Grown my hair like a mane

Been kind to my daughters

And changed the notion of authority

For my words would be exclaimed intensely feminine

Applauded for

A man having been 

A better woman

Like Bono and his award 

We give ourselves away

By the bouquet full

Whatever happened

To women inheriting the wind?

The growing chronicles #2 The broken glass


You had sat in the window ledge

of everywhere I lived over the years

light pouring through your

green glass making familiar

new destinations with known

you came all the way from Italy

when I saw the world through your colors

I saw the world differently shining into rooms

 

It had come down to this

either you or I

would break

you gave me preview

as fate will a look inside

what will happen, the night before

when you wobbled and nearly

tipped from your place

a warning

next time I will not be so fortunate

 

and I

chose to ignore

the peril

knowing

if not you

it would be myself

breaking into pieces

all over the floor leaving

shards of color ground to dust

through which another

world could exist

 

I swept you up

fat tears dropping

magnifying with saline

my apology

that it had to be

your sacrifice

not my courage

to beseech the spectacle of existing

and save another day

I may then

shatter with you

Softly by the spoonful

33879402735_73c9d87faf_kThere exist still

people who were born when the world

like a split fig, bequeathing aubergine center

was half the size

in a fabled time when

individuals could be appreciated

for more than their overt strip-tease

hot and pulsing on flashy poles oiled by media

consumption

 

my grandmother

with her perfect straight teeth

and flossy hair refusing to be tamed

called a beauty in her day

would never have held up now

a corn maiden left to rot in untended field

days then, of gentle reproaching and

beguiling unknown

how intoxicate to consider, what you cannot reach

where now, less possesses such mystery

in its hoard of foil

than generations guarding jailers keys to reaching secrets

you could think all your life you were set

in one direction like weather vane, divining nature

and upon the death-bed of your elders, find out

nothing you rolled in your palm, was true

not even the dice you flung impatiently forward

 

for now we have proof

and proof is not

like a closed oven door

raising cake or bread

proof can rob us of dreaming

and those imprecisions and improvision

making fantasies stick like early

peas fattened against their husk

 

now the only fantasy

is waking up to become someone else

soon they will have us inhabiting machines

thinking ourselves free

maybe the irony will be

in those metal cases our brains

will grow mercurial wings

we are after all, rather fickle things

thinking ourselves to immortality

as Icarus searched to quench

his melting dissolution

 

I don’t share this ache to overcome my nature

it is my wish to lay me down and sleep

fertilizing the next seed

so when they say eat your greens

if you do, you may be the one in six to reach triple digits

I secretly chew and spit into black soil

preferring the liquor of a shorter candle

if I lived that long

nothing of the world I once loved

would remain

 

Buddhists say

live in the moment, not past, nor future

but I am a backward bespeckled girl

with a tilted womb and trigger finger

I am a girl who was partially born

with patched lazy eye and pigeon toe feet

I inherited bunions from my father who

stole them from his grandmother

she was blind with cataracts and still able

to see clearly

don’t live in the city, she chided him

the country boy who sought

museums on sunday’s instead of church

you’ll always be lonely, she prophesied

and he was

staring out windows at tall buildings

with long faces, void of harmony

 

whilst I leaned more toward my ancestors

who tilled fecund earth with prematurely calloused hands

finding peace in silent prose press of peat

to nourish encroaching tides of meaningless

gabled society can bring

 

from my mother I gained

some wit and spark

but also the propensity to climb inside myself

so far I didn’t know how to trust

and when it rains and the weather shifts

its turbulence

my head aches with clamoring change

an internal disturbance like children

playing band with pots and pans

it was always the habit of myself

to disbelieve the town crier

hefting his false bell

handing out sugar for the children

and pills for heavy-lidded adults

back in time I stood

warming my small hands against radiators

gloves wet from snow thawing

capture of damp wool in sticky air

the psychiatrist said

did you come here alone and you are only twelve?

I wanted to tell him

how many times I learned the way forward

without hands or trace

but some truths are best kept

behind your surface

he told me something I have never forgotten

it is the unkindness of those familiar

scars us worse of all

than any cut from a stranger

yet still

grief is a thing of feathers loosened by seizure

as rain will envelope sound, cutting off from usual ways

we tread deeper into ungulate symphony

he said; somebody should have loved you better

and I watched

my gloves shrink ever so slightly

as loose wool pulled taut in warmth

just as I

will lean into glassy light composed of grainy prism

away from those who string their netted words

higher and higher in hope of catching

butterflies

 

it is summer now

the sprinklers in gardens come alive at night

catching mating dragonflies unaware

lightly slapping window panes as they arc

and fall

the cat will only seek to step

on cooling tiles when sun has set

and behind my eyes if you looked

a hundred cages stand emptied

where generations have flown

toward the sea and diminishment

 

I know

as I feel the tilt of myself shift like

long seated shadows will at last

urge toward darkness

the slightest ember could ignite

this fragile ballet of footprints and placement

as tables set for breakfast loam in nightfall

specters in deletion, we rise and consume

time and understanding

softly by

the spoonful

The last

250px-Scared_Child_at_NighttimeNothing is always a hard and fast rule or outcome

we cannot predict as well as we might think

divining over two sticks to find the source

I know this as I know my own heartbeat

for myself and many others

not having children makes you hold onto yourself too much

you value the debris and memories and fixtures of your past

with emotional microscope, unable to grow beyond reflection

as if they were your child’s blanket, your child’s first tooth

you look at self portraits

feeling the emotion a little less of love approximating love

self-love isn’t always narcissism

it reduces however like a sauce

until there is less than more

while loving another expands

until it lifts us off our feet and sends us into the air

that kind of love frees us from preoccupation

obsessing and writing ourselves over and over

this is my life, this is my dog, this is how I am, look at me!

your gaze shifts to another, you learn how little you matter

how to open yourself up, love someone else without end

suddenly you are not important and unconditional is

 

it is funny to imagine my mother knowing this more than I

it is sad to think she was a mother and we do not have that in common

she has walked where I will never walk

and though it was hard for her to accept

she knows more from having been than I ever will

I who still hold onto, my own memories of me

the only child who wasn’t meant to thrive

living up to her proportion

not obsession or self-love but a lack of other

diminishment in legacy

there will be no follow-up

no future after I am dust

the line will simply close

like it was cauterised and sealed, never having existed

 

at times I feel I owe those in the past

something more than quiet death

or history forgotten and emptied

dressing corpses with semblance

but I have nothing more to offer

no search for fame or history

I am simply myself

who at the close of day will inherit the sum

all who came before, all who will not carry on

an envelope licked and sealed

sent away to the dead letter depot

 

I look at my hands they are empty and long

I think they look wistful as the feeling inside of me does

if I could stop considering myself

hording small memories in tight boxes

holding on because if I let go

there is just an empty glass

neither half full nor half emptied

gone is the liquid of the future

I am it … this is all

now

and it feels disquieting

wrong at times

to be the last of my kind

I think of how it will only grow stronger

as they die and I remain

watching memories like old films damaged by time

 

this may seem bleak but if you stand solitary

watching the entire world play out their multiplication

like a concert with different scenes and costumes

you feel yourself evaporating knowing there is nothing more

no heaven for the empty. no hell for the sinner

and purgatory

is here on earth surely

I suppose that’s why I do what I can

now

sometimes that is not possible because

my heart is wrapped in butchers paper and thick with sorrow

a doom perhaps, just a shadow of future

when I am strong enough I stir and reach

when I am weak I stay so still air is louder than me

at times I do not exist though I live

I am just a poor transfer

a smudge of a fingerprint left on glass in an empty house

vanquished of plan

 

what will I do when they depart?

how will I cope being the last?

it was my intention to gather other lives around me

a blanket of DNA my home-grown spun family

nature didn’t permit such outcome, possibly

with our inheritance this was less cruel

than leaving children to grow into

miniature versions of disease’s burden

the curse and the lightning of uncertainty

mental illness heating mercury

like fevered flag

 

some would say, abuse ends

when there are no more left to collect

it is a relief to think of sleeping undisturbed

unaware of beginning and end

but at night I admit

sometimes that terrible fear curls around my neck

and I remember being a child

alone in the dark

knowing one day

it will be

permanent

as I am

the last

Mental Health Month Day #9 “Suicide”

Crossposted

The first time I was personally touched by suicide, a friend’s mom took her own life, her kids found her in the bath, I heard about it second-hand around the age of eight. I remember thinking how I would feel if I found a family member dead, and I tried to be nicer to my friend whose mom had died. I remember other kids said things about how the mom was selfish for doing it, I didn’t join in, there was even then, a part of me that didn’t see it that way.

The second time I was personally touched by suicide, my grandfather took his own life. He overdosed on Valium and was found the next morning when he hadn’t come down for breakfast. He was an artist and a long time Depressive, but despite that, everyone was shocked that a man still in his prime would consider death a better option. I remember people saying; “What a waste, he was so talented” and “How selfish, he had two children and a wife.” Although I didn’t think it at the time, I now wonder, does that mean it’s not selfish if you have no one? Is it more understandable or acceptable if you are not talented? Again, how things are phrased can stick with you.

At the time I saw my grandmother trying to come to terms with it. She ended up drinking the pain away, and developed an addiction to drinking for many years before she joined a cult and through this new-found sense of belonging quit drinking and became happy once more. Whilst we didn’t particularly like her being part of a cult we were glad for her restored peace of mind, but when I think back on it now, I also think we were relieved, we didn’t have to look in the face of grief anymore, everyone wanted to get on with things.

And that’s the hardest part of suicide, how people cope or do not cope after the fact.

Who is left behind, what fall-out carries on sometimes for generations.

One of the first questions a therapist asks is if anyone in your family has committed suicide, there is a reason for that. People whose family members commit suicide have a far higher risk of committing suicide themselves. Some have postulated whether this is ‘learned behavior’ or ‘permission granted’ or biological/in our DNA.

I can definitely see why people who have relatives who commit suicide would go one of two extremes. They are either going to be the last person to commit suicide, because they know first-hand its fall-out, or they may feel that because someone close to them did, it gives permission for them to follow suit. I can also see how some people are genetically at higher risk because something within their DNA makes it more favorable than for others. This doesn’t seem so very different from say, the God Gene.

There definitely are, as with addicts, two camps, the person who just won’t kill themselves under any circumstances and those who will. We may never quite know why, there may be many factors that go into that, but the people who are ‘at risk’ versus those who are not, are often hard to distinguish because in many ways they may both exhibit the same symptoms.

Many times I hear people say that those who commit suicide are ‘weak’ and ‘selfish.’ I have never thought they were. I see no good coming from condemning someone who was sad enough to take their own life. If we do it to discourage others, well it’s not really working, and whilst I would never advocating encouraging anyone to commit suicide or over-justifying those who do, I see no good in criticizing them after the fact. They made a decision, they chose to do it, who are we to say they are weak?

At the same time, we all hope someone will find the ‘strength’ or conviction to keep living. Nobody really approves of suicide except in extreme cases such as euthanasia for those who are suffering and in agonizing pain. Even then, in America, this is a very divided subject with those against, believing no murder is justified including the taking of ones own life, whilst others, often those who have seen it personally, can attest, some terminally ill people have the right to end their suffering.

So if we look at suicide of ‘healthy’ individuals, where do we place the depressed and the mentally ill on that scale? In some Scandinavian countries there have been people who have petitioned the Government to be euthanized based upon mental-illness. This has sparked outrage among those who believe this is tantamount to murder, and in no way qualifies as a terminal illness. Technically mental illness is rarely terminal although many ways, mental illness accompanies terminal diseases and exacerbates their symptomatology.

But even without being terminal, can mental illness ever be ‘bad’ enough to warrant or justify the taking of ones own life? And if we open that flood gate, how do we close it again?

I don’t claim to know the answer, I’m not sure anyone knows the answer yet but the side of suicide we don’t consider as often, isn’t just prevention or reason(s) behind suicide, but the aftermath.

Another friend of mine lost her mother to suicide. If I had to say, without hesitation I would say she became a more responsible, compassionate person as a result. But that doesn’t negate the extreme pain she still feels with the loss of her mom. Given a choice, every day she would wish for her mom’s return over any compassion she may have. The positives cannot outweigh the negative reality of losing someone you love.

If her mom had been deathly ill maybe she would have held a different view, I have never asked her, but either way, it is hard to imagine being ‘okay’ with someone’s suicide. That said, when Brittany Maynard committed suicide (euthanasia) in Oregon a while back I was profoundly moved by her videos and writing on the subject prior to her choice to end her life. Still very young and with a beautiful family, Brittany was terminally ill and knew in a matter of months she would be in excruciating pain and there was no cure and only awful suffering.

Many people condemned her for ‘taking the easy way out’ or ‘going against the will of God’ but I recall admiring her so much for her resolve and strength. I simply could not imagine making that choice, let alone going through with it. Her family moved to another State where Euthanasia is legal in order to be eligible and she made her plight and story public in an effort to educate people on the right to die. I believe in the right to die in part because of her efforts to show it is not the same as suicide.

With depression and other mental illnesses that are not responsive to treatment, it is not hard to imagine why people can be pushed to the brink and wish to end their lives. Should we consider euthanasia for severe cases of mental illness? Currently I don’t think we should but I recognize I may change my mind as more information becomes available. When I stop and think about living with say, Schizophrenia and other illnesses your entire life, in misery, without respite, and medications not working, I can definitely see why someone may wish to end their life. So why do I hesitate in condoning suicide or euthanasia in those cases?

Maybe because whilst we see mental illness as a disease, it’s not terminal and until something is actually ‘definitely’ going to take your life, we have this belief that there is hope, and we should not end our life based on feeling badly. Is this dismissive? I would say in some instances, yes, because there are chronic pain conditions that may include mental disease, that it could be argued, are as devastating to someone as a terminal illness. Perhaps we should give everyone the ‘right’ to choose if they live or die, and I would agree with this except for a worry that sometimes in certain mind-sets we don’t have the right objectivity to ‘choose’ without bias.

Mental illness is one of those biases. When you are mentally ill you can really see the world through a different lens. If you have not ever experienced that, believe me when I say, one day you can feel hopeful, the next it’s like the color was sucked out of the world and the pain you feel inside is unbearable and often without any cause. When that goes on for a prolonged period of time each day can be agonizing. It is definitely understandable that when people feel this way they may contemplate suicide.

The argument against this is – people typically commit suicide or attempt suicide when they are panicking or have calmly given up (the two extremes) they either panic that they will never feel differently and ‘stop the pain! stop it now! stop it any way you can!’ or they feel reconciled to their fate, they do not believe it will ever change, and so they give themselves permission to let go.

Perhaps that is why the very young and the very old are the two groups most likely to take their own lives.

As mentioned earlier, there are many who no matter how bad it got, would never commit suicide. That isn’t necessarily anything to do with personal fortitude or strength, it may be a genetic proclivity, or several factors, but they often perceive those who take their lives as inexplicable. They cannot and will not understand, and they feel understanding is condoning. I would argue, understanding is NOT condoning it’s understanding. We need more understanding.

Mental illness is not always visible, so we often do not know someone is suffering from it until it’s too late. Signs to look for include giving away what we own, a sudden sense of peace and feeling good, high anxiety and stress and the bequeathing of things previously withheld. Of course that’s not going to ensure you accurately predict whom among us is at risk, because just like in the film 13 Reasons, so many people exhibit signs and so many do not, and that’s no guarantee of anything. Additionally suicide can be a sudden choice, you literally realize in a moment and bam, it’s too late.

One population aside teenagers that I believe will increasingly be at risk for suicide is the elderly. More so because our grandparents social security and pensions were more robust than ours will be with some exceptions. It is simply more expensive to live nowadays and the money we will need to live even relatively well in old age, is often more than we can save and invest. Poverty and loneliness are two of the main reasons the elderly choose to take their lives. The third is illness. This can include mental illness. We sometimes believe the value of a person’s life diminishes with increasing age, but every life should have the same value.

The elderly have less resources than teens and in a way, less hope, because they are ageing toward death, whereas a teen has their entire life ahead of them. Sometimes hastening ones death can seem a good choice, to end suffering, loneliness, worry, financial concerns. The elderly can feel they are a burden, they can feel they are not wanted in our ever busy society that highlights youth. Additionally, are we ready as a society to take care of the many who will devleop dementia, which often carries alongside it, chronic depression? Is loading an eighty year old with heavy duty medications and antidepressants all we can to do help them?

Caregivers of the elderly will also experience mental health issues as a result of the hard work they do. Presently elderly patients are over medicated and have less resources for talk-therapy or other treatments. It is deemed simply easier to stick them on a lot of medications and hope they’ll die than treat their suffering compassionately and with an understanding their lives, however long, still hold value. Is it any wonder then that so many elderly are at risk of suicide and premature death? As long as we judge people based on their economic ‘worth’ and believe the elderly ‘had their time’ we will never improve this and rates of elder-abuse will grow.

So whilst we can do more to look out for people, we will never prevent someone from committing suicide if they are absolutely set on doing so. What we can do is save the ones who do not wish to and need a reason not to. It may seem absurd that anyone should really want to die, but there will always be people who do, they find different ways, they take risks, they drive their cars too fast, they may join a terrorist group. Often very unhappy people choose suicide by proxy, by putting themselves in danger and waiting to see if it will take them.

Suicide and mental health are always going to be interrelated and there is a lot the people around those people can do to prevent a successful suicide, but ultimately the best we can do is not judge those who die, for what possible good comes from that? Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to try to understand why someone did what they did. Sometimes there is nothing to understand. But with understanding we can learn, whereas if we simply condemn, we learn absolutely nothing.

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 !