Category Archives: Poems

Depression, Poetry, and Guilt

All my good intentions fell apart after my last blog post, and I was MIA for a couple of weeks. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s just…. Life.

I’ve mentioned before that I have Bipolar II and a general anxiety disorder. Both are only minor in the overall scheme of things. In that I can manage them with lifestyle options such as exercise, food choices, meditation/prayer, and avoiding high-anxiety situations. However, “managing” isn’t the same as “curing”, and over the last couple of weeks I’ve found myself on a down — which is to say, I’ve been depressed.

Living with depression is something I’m accustomed to. Since I was eight years old I’ve been through three or four periods of depression every year. Then I’d “magically” snap out of it, and everything would be fine. (I was only diagnosed with Bipolar II a couple of years ago, and suddenly my whole life made sense.) So I know how to cope. I know the warning signs to look for, so I know when I’m not coping, and when to seek help. I know how to minimise the worst of it through exercise and food. I know to treat myself gently, and not try to “push through it” — which includes not pushing myself to write when I don’t have the energy. I know how to cope.

But once my anxiety disorder kicks in, it’s a whole other kettle of crazy.

Over the last few weeks, my life has felt like it’s spiralling out of control. Circumstances outside of my control have left me in a situation that has been thoroughly dependent on friends for my everyday necessities. I don’t want to get into the details here, but trust me when I say that I am eternally grateful to have friends willing to sacrifice their own time and plans to help me in my hour of need. But gratitude only gets you so far, and on Thursday night I found myself having a major panic attack — the first in eleven months.

And around and around in my head went the thoughts.

Other people have it much worse… You have no reason to feel like this… You’re just being silly… Stop being so melodramatic… Somewhere in Africa, children are dying.

And so I grabbed a pen and paper, and I poured my pain and anxiety and guilt on to the paper. This is what I wrote.

The Guilt of Africa

 

Anxiety strikes like a copperhead snake
My vision is blurry, my hands start to shake
Too many weights pressing down on my mind
The burdens are boundless, I’m not doing fine

My problems are first world, my life is a mess
My heart won’t stop racing, I’m tight ‘cross the chest
My children are calling, I want them to stop
I need to curl up in the dark now and sob

My thoughts are a spiralling circle of pain
Why can’t I be normal? My head feels insane
My breathing’s too fast, my head is too light
I’ve lost all my hearing and most of my sight

And somewhere in Africa, children are dying
Putin is marching and oceans are rising
And my well-fed children have pain in their eyes
While their mother just cries and cries and cries

Is this all I am? A heartbeat? A tear?
A mess of emotional, overwhelmed fear?
My fingers are tingling, my toes have gone numb
I’m not even worthy to wear the name ‘Mum’

It’s dark now and cold and I’m sitting so still
If I move, then I’m worried that I’ll break the spell
Of peace, just a little, of paper and pen
And words spilling out like the Duke of York’s men

I have vodka and cigarettes, stars and the moon,
Two children who love me, friends and a spoon,
And a tub full of yoghurt in the door of the fridge
I wish I could eat, but my stomach is sick

And somewhere in Africa, children are dying
ISIS is killing, Ebola is rising
And here I am safe in a home of my own
Strung out, defenseless, completely alone

 

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Filed under Opinion, Poems

No Escape: A Poem

She waits.
In the silence of her room
And the silence of her mind
She waits for that which comes.

Like nightfall.
Inevitable, irrevocable
Insidiously innate
It creeps over her.

A curse.
It slides through her mind
It steals over her flesh
Destroying all it finds.

The end.
With unrepenting doom
It sinuously slithers
Closer – ever closer.

I yearn.
To take away this baneful curse
To save her from its pain
And see her free from harm.

Helpless.
Powerless to change her world,
Powerless to stand in the way,
Of all that she fears.

We wait.
There is no defence,
There is no escape,
From time.

Hourglass

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Filed under Poems, Random Stuff

Resistance is Futile: A Poem about Writing

“You don’t have to write,” I whispered to me.
“There’s dishes to wash and stuff on TV,
Books to be read, chores to be done,
You could even, perhaps, go out and have fun.”

“You don’t have to write,” I said with a smile.
“Just lay your head down and rest for a while.
The clock keeps on ticking, the day’s getting late,
Too late to be writing, too late to create.”

“You don’t have to write,” I said once again.
“There’s always tomorrow. Why don’t you write then?”
“I’m going to write,” me said with a smile.
“I’ll write every day, if just for a while.”

“The writing of words is ingrained in my blood.
Too long without writing, my soul turns to mud.
I’m going to write. Now get out of my way.”
“But wait!” I shrieked. “Must you start it today?”

“Tomorrow’s a good day for getting things started!
If you start it tomorrow, we’ll both be clear-hearted!”
But me interrupted, “I know you’re afraid.
You’re afraid, for a start, that we’ll never get paid.”

“You’re afraid that our writing will suck really bad.
You’re afraid that our story is complex and sad.
You’re afraid that our hero is secretly lame.
And there’s millions of others exactly the same.”

“You’re afraid that our plot is one clichéd mess.
You’re afraid that the romance is tragic at best.
You’re afraid that they’ll laugh when they read what we wrote.
Afraid that we’ll finish. Afraid that we won’t.”

“You’re afraid of what’s next when the novel’s complete.
You’re afraid to be published. Afraid to compete.
You’re afraid of which publishing pathway to choose.
Afraid that you’re secretly destined to lose.”

“You’re afraid of so much. I hear you. I do.
But I’m going to write. And that much is true.”
“Yes, but not now!” I screamed. “Not just yet!”
“There’s something important you must not forget!”

“Enough!” me yelled. “Now you leave me be.
Your procrastinating is not for me.
Your lame excuses are just a sham.
Resistance is futile. I’m writing. Scram.”

25 Comments

Filed under Poems, Writing

My Name: A Brief Burst of Poetry

It’s been a week since I last blogged. I haven’t been away visiting far-flung shores, or doing anything exciting. Mostly, I’ve been recovering from being sick and throwing myself a week-long pity party. I finally decided to simply write about how I was feeling. That’s what writers do, right? We write?

So here it is. I hope someone out there can relate. 

My Name

They call my name all day long
But it’s not my name they’re calling
It’s another name I answer to
Inherited like jewellery
From the woman who once owned it
And wore it like a badge

And all my friends are writing books
And singing songs
And making art
And planning shows
And writing words
And following their hearts

While I’m just sitting here and crying
Struggling to find the time
To sit and write a stupid rhyme
Explaining how I’m feeling

And when I stop and look at me
I’m not the girl I want to see
I’m not the girl I thought I’d be
When I was young and getting older

I don’t know who this person is
This person in the mirror
With meals to cook and bills to pay
Cooking and cleaning every day
And there’s never any minutes left
For me

Just me
My dreams and goals and plans and thoughts and feelings and emotions

But I don’t hate it when I hate it
Even when I hate it
I love my kids
I love my life
I love my husband and being a wife

I just don’t love
This me
This lonely empty quiet me
Who doesn’t live but smiles and smiles
Just to show she’s happy

And every time I clap my hands
Another fairy dies

And there’s never enough money
So my dreams all stay unspoken
And when we buy four chocolate bars
Mine’s the one that’s broken

But it’s not all bad
I love my life
I love my kids and being a wife
I love my husband
He loves me
He loves to see me feeling happy

He feels happy when I’m happy
And sad when I am sad
Because everything I do is special
And that should make me glad

But it doesn’t
I wish he’d stop
It’s too much fucking pressure

And I know my dreams aren’t really dead
They’re sleeping underground
Like flowers in the winter
And old men in the rain
But what if when the sun comes out
They can’t get up again?

What if everything I’ve dreamed and hoped
Is gone
And won’t come back
And when I die they bury me
In a tomb
And mark it
Mum

After writing this, I happened across a great post by Liz Michalski titled Run Your Own Race. It helped.

A lot.

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Filed under Life With Kids, Poems, Writing

Flash Fiction: The Truth Will Let You Breathe

The Flash Fiction challenge over at TerribleMinds this week was to write a monster story in 1000 words or less. The catch: it had to be a new monster. No vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc. We had to come up with something new and different.

I found this challenge really tricky. Coming up with the monster was the easy part — I worked that out on day one. But no matter how many times I started writing the story, I couldn’t make it work. The mood wasn’t right, the words wouldn’t come… It was just one of those stories that I couldn’t seem to get from my brain to the paper. Then: Inspiration.

A monster story, told in the lyrical style of Dr. Seuss.

The Truth will Let You Breathe

In the dark of the night
Something went bump.
I woke up with a start.
I woke up with a jump.
I leapt from my bed
With my heart all aflutter.
I grabbed for my gun,
And I started to mutter.

“I can hear you, my friend,”
I said under my breath.
“Have you come here to fight,
man-to-man, to the death?
If that is the case,
Then you better watch out.
I’m the best that there is,
Of that, there’s no doubt.”

But nothing was said,
And the darkness was still.
I crept through the house
And then felt a chill.
I spun to my left
And then to my right
“Where are you?”I yelled
Then I switched on the light.

It was standing right there,
Barely three feet away,
It was grotesque and horrid
In every way.
I screamed like a banshee
And pointed my gun.
My hand was all shaky.
I wanted to run.

“Don’t move,” I said bravely.
My teeth clicked and clacked.
My whole body was shaking
As a matter of fact.
“Just back away slowly,
I won’t ask you twice.”
It laughed and it grabbed me,
It’s grip like a vice.

I struggled and strained,
But I couldn’t get free.
“What are you? And
What are you doing to me?”
It started to laugh,
A long drawn out sound,
“I’m all of the lies
That you’ve spread around.”

I looked up at the monster,
Looked into its face,
The face that belonged to
My first girlfriend, Grace.
I’d told her I loved her,
But it wasn’t true.
It was the heat of the moment.
I just wanted a screw.

Its eyes looked like Barry’s.
I’d once dobbed him in
For cheating at school,
But I’d copied from him.
Its tongue was a fish
That I’d said got away.
Its teeth, cigarettes
Smoked in secret one day

It was wearing a shirt
That I stole from a mate
(I’d sworn that I hadn’t,
But Gods it looked great.),
Jeans made of books that
I said that I’d read,
A belt made of rumours
I’d started or spread.

In its hand was a gun,
It looked just like mine.
“You’re not really the best.”
It laughed one more time.
I held up my free hand
In front of my head,
“Please don’t just shoot me!
I don’t want to be dead!”

It looked at me long
And it lowered the gun.
“I’m not going to shoot you,
That wouldn’t be fun.”
It reached into its pocket
And pulled something free:
A lighter that really
Meant nothing to me.

“You stole this from your Dad,”
It said with a smile.
“You told him you hadn’t,
Said it wasn’t your style.”
It flicked on the flame
And then let it fall.
The carpet caught fire,
And so did the wall.

“This is the battery
You swore you’d replaced
In that smoke alarm there
So conveniently placed.
But it won’t help you now,”
It said. “’Cause it’s broke.”
Then it held me quite still
While I started to choke.

30 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction, Poems