You wait patiently for me to smile you had no idea what you were
getting into years ago when you said i do and if i'd known would i have tried
to change your mind i don't think so because i'm trying to follow the doctors'
orders and look there's one now working at the corners of my mouth
just for you.
Joe Hackworth: I live with depression and panic / anxiety disorders. Still working on the meds. My work has appeared online in Clean Sheets Magazine, Poems Niederngasse, Issue 6 of PoetrySz, and will be published in a future issue of Eclectica.
I am tired. My mind is empty. It is difficult to work.
I gather stones.
Some broken, some smooth. Some heavy and too large for my hands. Some that roll across my palms, light as a feather. Some hard and sturdy, others brittle, Eager to crumble into grains of sand, form clouds of dust. Some warm, soft and smooth as clay, Separate prayers created from flesh of living earth. Some cold and gray and dead as ash.
I gather stones.
I put thought to thought Pebble beside pebble To shore up rent and void of no-thought. Mingle clay with ash and draw earthworm from frozen tundra. I scoop dried grass from cold ground up to my knuckles And draw my nails across the hard skin of blocks of ice. I cover my face with red, yellow, black, brown, and green dirt. I boil roots and mud in stone soup. I collect the shells of insects the bones of reptiles, birds and small mammals And plant seeds where some will grow and others won't.
I am tired. It is difficult to work. My mind is empty but my arms are full of stones.
I say each stone has a meaning and make it a phrase in a song. I sing in the language of stones because I know no other language, I have no other way of speaking. My tongue is heavy in my mouth. I never learned to speak with the words others use to speak and sing.
When they learned to sing I was busy gathering stones. When they learned to write I was busy gathering stones. When they learned to paint I was busy gathering stones. When they learned to carve I was busy gathering stones. When they learned to sculpt I was busy gathering stones. When they learned to dance I was busy gathering stones.
When they played together I felt lost. Between stone and stone I couldn't feel the distinction between work and play. It was all work to me, a slow and difficult work Built singly of stones.
I gather stones.
I learned to say that the skipping of a pebble across the surface of the stream Was a butterfly in flight in the summer sky. I learned to say that the sparks made from pounding two pieces of flint Were the notes of the nightingale in the autumnal evening. I learned to say the texture of a moss-covered rock Was the felt on the neck of a doe. That the dry astringency of lime Was the collective memory of a burdened and oppressed people. That the silt flowing between my fingers Was the cry of a mother mourning the loss of her child. That the light inside a crystal of quartz Was the glow of a collective consciousness.
But my tongue was still heavy with the weight of stones And where others could dance and sing lightly from thought to thought I struggled to lift one thing to the next. Stone would not adhere to stone. The dust of the butterfly's wing would not color the neck of the fawn Whether I mixed its paint with a mother's tears Or the sweat which poured from my palms. When the others could mingle dance with song and thing to action I could not even affix stone to stone But held them together in my tired arms.
I gather stones.
And because stone will not congeal to stone, I learned to balance stone upon stone. Sometimes a piece of chalk resting on a slate of granite, Sometimes a bit of broken obsidian to support a column of marble.
And I learned to say that this flake of feldspar supporting an amethyst geode Was the work of a fractured mind sustaining the dream of utopia That a piece of clay wrapped around a few grains of sand Was the arm of a loved one embracing someone in pain.
I gather stones.
I am tired. My mind is empty. It is difficult to work.
Bruce Stater: A little more than three years ago I entered into a psychosis that lasted approximately nine months. During this time, I suffered from delusions, hallucinations, cognitive impairment, extreme fits of terror, bizarre patterns of behavior, occasional catatonia, and magical thinking. I was hospitalized twice and eventually received a diagnosis of schizophrenia, paranoid type. During the first hospitalization at Bellevue I had little insight concerning my condition, refused medication, and made no progress in my recovery. At Metropolitan Hospital, in part because I was treated with more respect and understanding than I had been at Bellevue, I began taking medication, and slowly began the long journey of recovery from schizophrenia.
I spent the next two years in a deep depression, unable to work, read, play, experience pleasure, or hold much of a conversation. Medication helped with the positive symptoms but the negative ones persisted. During this period I gave up hope of ever finishing the dissertation I had been working on, dropped out of a graduate program in Comparative Literature, and spent each day struggling to make it to the next.
Gradually, after a period of approximately two years, and with the support of my loving wife, Lori, I began to feel a bit more alive. I found myself living in a world with light once again. It became easier to hold a conversation, my mind no longer felt empty, and I could begin imagining the future once again. I began reading. I applied to Teacher¹s College, Columbia University where I am currently pursuing an M.A. degree in English Education. I hope to become a high school English teacher. I currently live in Astoria, New York with my wife, Lori, and our cat, Beans.
In India loved ones burned bodies at a ghat, scattered ashes into the sacred river.
On the Solomon Islands they laid out their dead on reefs for sharks to feast.
Mäoris wore wreathes of green leaves, chanted, cried out and cut themselves, covered bones in red earth.
In Mexico, families celebrated dia de los muertos, sat at graves, set an empty place at the table.
Within our home, I placed a kiss on your forehead. My tears trickled like a holy water baptism, lips murmured words of mourning.
Two poems and a card, laid under your arm, embodied the spirit of my love to mix and rise with yours in smoke from the flame.
Today I hold your ashes, touch the urn the way I used to touch your face, and believe like Buddhists in the cycle of rebirth.
On Route 32, the Dance Floor Bus
Yesterday, he was the comb-over king, a sad jazz ramble of jibber-jabber facts.
Tonight, he is hushed anticipation, an unknown destination,
a step, a dance, a pirouette;
look at his eyes, the way he jives when he moves.
Rick Parsons: I am a veterinary technician living in Phoenix, AZ. I have suffered from depression and anxiety/panic attacks, but control both fairly well with medication. My home is shared with six cats whose souls are to mine as child is to mother. For me, writing poetry is the "ow, what'd ya do that for?" that is blurted out after being smacked in the back of the head by my muse's hand.
Portland to Laramie--checkerboard blare. Can't savor the view, strapped in. No    diversions; course locked.
Miles clicking odo sanes me. Days sandwiched w/ sleeps. Months vanish like whole trains piercing mountains.    Something pursues, often roars ahead.
Swapping energy for distance--    swapped for time--swamping memories. More & more: I am nose art
And Accept What I Can't
new. never tortured .before. wasn't sure. i wanted but . my job was. that. or .Northern. Front. trench duty. where .none. i knew . returned .with everything they left with.
go ahead, .peers said.... nothing. to it! we're all .squeamish . initially.. they don't .really. feel after a .few jabs.
toothless sergeant. lost . foot, hand, . eye at the.. S . F . .said, .Know. how your. guts .growl, 'ts okay to .feel. for a fellow human. Just 'magin. them cattle-- Makes it .easier. They feel .like cattle, so's .better for all.
true, tho. i never. warmed. to it. like. . .the .men. the .women, the .sick, the .elderly.... .but. .no. t.ho.u.gh. .. .ne.ver. .got. .use. t.o ..scre.am.ing. .chi.ldre.n. .th.eir. .piti.ful. .suf.ferings..bo.u.ght . .ol.. .age.... .woun't. .change.. .a. .thing.
Jerry Hicks: I thought for most of my life, "suicide is the only cure," but here I am at 65 with more lust for life each day, meds and all. No one can understand mental illness who doesn't have it. Compassion comes with incapacity. What is wrong? Why don't things work? The cure: Just slowly living through it--doing whatever it takes to survive. One day, colors come back for an hour. The first ray of hope.
The night sky opened releasing it's dirty bowels onto the land secrecy among the shame tomorrow we'll gather our belongings to move along as instructed destruction on a mass scale we'll bleed tears from the new found bewilderment time stopped for a mere second the clock broken on seven eleven wind it back or forward, as you please enjoy the plague of fear for it's eternal introverts unite in solidarity seeking to unite with some kind of clarity married to demons many wives wasted lives many husbands left to guess they all try to impress with deception you've joined an elite group... welcome aboard, comrade the surprise of a dead element sacrificed for the ceremonial party we hare our blood we lust and recreate facilitate and relate with poison as bait.
Colin Van der Woude: I'm a 25 year old from Australia who is living with schizophrenia and I use poetry as a creative outlet. I love using words to convey memories and feelings, emotions… I hope to one day have some work published and I'm on a mission to dispel any myths of mental illness.
it was a late funeral i carried poems hidden in breast pockets from all those angry years no one taught me how to live
dandies fly off dark ivy swallows into pits gloomy held captive on the shores of barbicide bubbled curdled putrid
a river of madness
where i drain my blood from a small incision for the leeches hurry come and get it, fast run smooth into the quick sands withdraw-ling my sickness injected me with serum to formulate attitude under a bridge of armageddon bye-bye sweetness
there are thickly boarded houses settled on puddled dew drops that call me by name and know the history that I have stored from even my husband
the icy rivers through me in red rock canyons eaten mosquitoes
i blow on raw-hide rolled into a bamboo flute And call to the woman in me lost in the wildness
i make home and shake the hand of peace knitting my sweater i am a free woman
Shaela Montague-Phillips: I am a student at Pittsburgh University. I begin having problems with depression when I was raped by a close family member and then I got married to my husband who was foster child and did know how to love so he was always drunk in the first few years of marriage. But now I have this fresher outlook on life and I am loving myself more and more each day.
In the September gutters of St. Petersburg 5:43 am Twenty-second century clerks Albino-aluminium Sleep on slabs of Vast inhuman endings Like redneck poets typing pavement anthems Regurgitated people reaching for concrete stars Snowflake theories staining Raskolnikov basements dressed in Siberian fashion Ritalin projects in the breathing pages of naked books The elaborate wreckage of disco subtext
Martin Rutley: I live in Manchester, England, and am 28 years old. I am influenced by several writers, but largely by certain writers from the beat generation. I have suffered from depression on and off for a large part of my adult life, but find that I am able to use this creatively.
The poet, with notebook in hand, failing to find inspiration in the humble surroundings of his first floor flat, turns toward the window for answers. The scene he sees, the same. The stately Sycamore that has lived a hundred years or more takes precedence. The poet zeros in on one of the lower most branches, which hosts a rope that once served as a pulley for a piñata. He pictures himself hanging lifelessly from this remnant of birthday party past, imagines that he'd jumped, sees his flaccid body, slumped, his bulging eyes and gaping mouth, his purple tinted pallor. Disturbed, he shakes the image from his head. His eyes fall back upon blank paper, and once again, the poet struggles for something to write…
K.R. Copeland is a self-taught poet, residing in Chicago Illinois, who suffers from bi-polar/ borderline personality disorder. Her work, which ranges from formal to experimental, heady to absurd, has been featured or is forthcoming in publications such as, Beginnings, Seeker, Dakota House Journal, Alternate Realities, Collective Insanity, Poetry Super Highway, Unlikely Stories, Decompositions, Snow Monkey, Niederngasse, and, The American Muse.
Meaning Incomprehensible studies of afternoons and evenings Twelve seconds from a childhood vacation in the bottom of an empty coffee cup Tomorrow, I'll rebuild my typewriter with the welfare cheque Sit on stone walls dragged from vast melancholies of orderly waiting rooms Travel on empty buses re-capturing myself I'll throw my body from the buildings I've built and chat with Fathers whilst their children are being born
Jack Cannon: I have been writing for some years, and like to get below the surface, if I can, and take a look at things from a less common perspective.
I sit on my red leather sofa in the living room. An oil painting hangs to my right; to my left the gas logs burn. But I can't shake the thought that I am threadbare sitting in the corner of a chinkless cabin cold and hungry.
Listen Do you hear plinks? The sound pulls at my ears. They are cobbling the road ahead. One day we will meet them.
Dave Ruslander has bipolar disorder but is able to work and create. He lives on his horse farm in Virginia and works as a computer network engineer. He's been published in numerous e-zine and print publications.