Thursday, June 01, 2000

Issue 2

Melissa Marino

Shayne Walls

David Ruslander

Peter Timusk

John Exell

Melissa Marino

Six Rules to Live, Love, and Die By

Bodies warm with the still-sweet memory of dreams
I roll over towards you -- half asleep --
My reach: tentative and guarded.

In your waking, you somehow perceive the impending threat,
roll away, and rise -- never looking back --
leaving me grasping
at the empty space that you used to occupy.

I lower my hand,
my fingertips tracing the ghost-shape
that you've left in the sheets,
as I watch you stride away
leaving only your fading warmth to soothe me.

~ There will be no lingering.

Skirting around the periphery of one-another,
we go about our separate, disentangled existences
the illusion of our familiarity threadbare and tenuous,
like a transparent cloak of invisibility,
as we ride together in silence, our faces peering out
on our own, individual landscapes.

I turn my head further towards the glass
feigning interest in the nondescript, flavorless scenery,
so you won't see the tears
and we drive,
the thirteen-inch span between us:
an infertile, long-dead wasteland
that neither one of us has the will or courage to cross.

Then, in a stone-still, breath-holding moment,
you reach for me, and I mentally race your hand to my face
where I imagine its sensitive, warm caress
on my cheek -- with one loving touch --
saying all of the things that we've no words for,
and you grin, and grab my breast for a friendly little squeeze.

~ There will be no tenderness.

We play footsie with reality
talking about the paths that we've chosen to travel,
while we avoid, at all costs,
even one truthful word about what brought us here.

We pretend that we're the greatest of friends
sharing our triumphs, tribulations,
fleeting moments of fame and conquests in love,
all the while, acutely aware of when, exactly,
we should insert the appropriate smile
or congratulatory pat on the back,
giving Oscar-worthy, flawless performances
with every mouth full of lies that we choke upon.

We choose silence over serious discourse,
the echoes of conversations long-dead, loud in our ears,
and when the silence becomes unbearable,
we veil our distress in laughter
each joke ensuring that the last laugh is on us.

~ There will be no communication.

we voluntarily occupy one-another's space,
settling for "something" rather than "nothing",
and, you become the visitor that you are attempting to portray,
decked out in all of your finest visitor dress, "just so".

You say "excuse me" when we pass too closely,
put the seat down,
and pick your socks up off the floor.
We discuss our jobs, our futures,
the weather and your wife,
and, when we fuck, you close your eyes.

I'd rather you leave your socks on the floor.

~ There will be no remembering.

Balanced upon the precarious ledge called "suicide"
we resist jumping, out of fear, and, also because
to do nothing at all still ensures death
as an eventuality.

"I'd like to linger when I die", you say in jest,
not realizing that the joke's on you.

You're already dying. We both are.
The difference is,
you just don't know it, yet.

~ There will be no redemption.

Know the rules before you agree to play the game.

~ There will be no refunds.

Poem for February

Ardour seeps
From a cracked ventricle,
Soaking the frosted ground
With it's caustic potion.

And once, the veins
Of these pressed petals
Swelled with dew,
Until their essence was blotted
In some candied chapter.

Now the demi-hearted
Winter sun washes discordantly
Over my seashell
Like a frigid lamp;

So flamy through the trees,
So harsh a hue against
The still, anemic landscape.
It tears in my eyes an awful wound.

Something rattles about in the bowl, a pearl.

Absence has not kept us apart.

Love Song for Him (thank You T.S. Thank You)

I finally dumped J Alfred when
you first asked to make love to my mind

suddenly, there was something
in that nada of my thoughts ... and
i found you bending wire into wings
strong wings, soft wings.
and i almost closed my eyes then.

there was just too much beauty.

you asked me why i look at you,
and what word could
i entertain?
someone drew your face into a photograph
that i carry within my heart
that only knows your eyes
asking to make love to my soul

there's no bloodletting required,
im open and absorbing

your dance is potent,
setting nietzsche's cows to pasture and
opening the windows to
i exhaled the last breath of
when you asked to make love to my body

those folds are peppermint to the
pasteboard of my woman box
opening to you,
you hold one of the great mysteries of
life in the palm of your hand.

while the women came and went
talking of ordinary things,

you were not one of them

Melissa Marino: I was born in Warren, Michigan. I have a BS in biology and biochemistry and am working toward getting my phd in developmental biology. I have been an active writer for the past 7 years, everything from poetry to prose, to non-fiction pieces. I don't think I ever made a decision to write, I just feel that I need to. I am what most people would call a 'self-hater'. I cut, burn, starve, binge, and bleed myself. I suffer from occassional bouts of servere depression, flanked by self injury. Through all my years of hurt, and ‘treatment', writing has always been there to kill the pain.

Melissa Marino Shayne Walls David Ruslander Peter Timusk John Exell

Shayne Walls


Serpents swim in the night
Troubled mind frosted light
Shadows fall like the snow
In my heart embers glow

The Sea

The sea was riled
Heaving her breath
Upon the land
Stirring souls of
Men to stand


Through the abyss
We'll swim
Sun to moon
And back again
So cry no more
We'll arrive
I see the shore
I see the light

From the darkness
Of this well
You and me
Oceans swell
Douse the fires
In our minds
We find peace
Amongst the vines

Shayne Walls: 31 years young diagnosed and hospitalized with schizophrenia in December 1996. Last stay in the cracker factory June 1999.

Melissa Marino Shayne Walls David Ruslander Peter Timusk John Exell

David Ruslander

59th Street

A black stiletto heel rests against granite
the cornerstone on 59th street.
Long bent leg reveals her garter belt
white stockings under a red mini skirt.

Sequined top, eye catching
pledges allegiance
lifting Marilyn Monroe off her neck.
The breeze refreshing

she blows you away.
Across the street
the pusher deals
from the bottom of the deck.

Suits scramble for the blue train
cellular phones stuck in their ears,
have your people call mine,
buy me some of that IPO.

A necklace of yellow cabs
links the avenues, interspersed
with black pearl limousines
Marilyn puts one on.


A bluesy haze hung over your Birdland.
Black & white faces played in your band.

Heads bobbing to musical spacings
watching and hearing your sax playing.

Everyone loves Charlie 'Bird' Parker.
But Charlie, you found places darker and darker.

Woodsheding all summer made you a king.
Man you learned to make that horn sing.

Your flatted fifth changes turned jazz on its head.
You were the reed-man you know it was said.

Oh, Cherokee, baby, what luxury,
who could forget that night at Savoy?

Your self-medication did so much harm.
Poppy was always on your right arm.

Nobody squeezed so many notes in one line.
You played yourself out in one-third time.

The Black Dog

Amber waves of grass blowing in warm summer sun
rolling over California hillsides brings a song to the breeze.
While the grasses appear dying the roots still live.
When they drink upon the autumn rains green stems return;
things are not always as they seem.
While walking through this flowing grass sea
I contemplate the cycles coming and going,
calm, stormy, dark, and light.
A startled covey of quail rises into the sky
and the black dog runs through the fields of gold.

Dave Ruslander: I am manic depressive.

Melissa Marino Shayne Walls David Ruslander Peter Timusk John Exell

Peter Timusk

Cloud Girl

Watching her from below.
Talking with her now.
She seems to be light.
She is very white.
A real cloud girl,
floating through the sky.
A real cloud girl,
Catching my eye.

There are moons and suns,
but she is everywhere.
I know she is all right.
Yes, and even tonight.

A real cloud girl,
floating through the sky.
A real cloud girl,
catching my eye.

He Thought

He was thrown out for dueling
His learning of fighting
She was his love
Never became a dove
The society spent on guns
And the new country begun
To live in independence
And own language of true defense
As life carried forward
The new formula of worth
But the numbers were a measure
Of water's temperate behavior
So that his class analysis
Was cruel and baseless
And even sex and love
When shot
Brought the mind to stop
And thus Karl wrote a story
That his theory
Had made the world gory
So that now a tragic idea
Was declared a delusional idea
And now poetically said
He was one great Red.

Brothers Learn Sociology

A fence post
between good friends
moved and the judge
accepted the insanity

The norms of society
as learned by hundreds of students
were doubted and the musician
incorporated the definition
in his thoughts of the song

The tune
sung that night
was accepted and the audience
applauded the insane

life is family brothers are friendly

Peter Timusk: Recovered from schizophrenia. Interests include mathematics, computers, and literature. Lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Melissa Marino Shayne Walls David Ruslander Peter Timusk John Exell

John Exell

Tales From The Front -- No. 43

The nurse brought round the medicine trolley. The patients shuffled towards her, all except Tom. No, he had had enough. He hated the pills, all they did was to make him sleepy. He didn't need them. He didn't need to be here. There was nothing wrong with him. He was a prisoner.

He turned sharply, walked briskly down the corridor, and slipped out a side door. He blinked in the sun, then broke into a run, jumped over a hedge and down the farm track. He was free, free. The dark, dead, dreary ward was a memory.

He continued running until he collapsed against a stile, breathless, a broad smile escaping from his lips. A lark soared high in the sky; he followed it with his mind. He noticed a rabbit dart into the undergrowth, its white tail glistening in the sunlight. The tops of the trees swayed in the gentle breeze. All was movement, life. He breathed it all in deeply.

Of course they would come looking for him, but he didn't care, not at this moment, this precious moment.


It is winter.
In my breast it is winter too.
Icicles live where once beat my heart.

I do not long for spring,
Winter suits me.
Its coldness is bracing, awakening.
It numbs the pain.

Love caused this pain.
I now stand aloof from love,
What need have I for it.

The ice forms patterns on my window.
Beautiful geometric ordered patterns,
A true mathematical beauty.
What need have I for the false beauty of her eyes,
Her lips.

I lay on my bed to sleep.
No more will I lose myself in dreams.
I sleep the sleep of death,
Stillness, ice, ice, death.

Ice is stillness, solid, unyielding.
Frozen water, frozen tears.

H.R.H. Princess Diana, R.I.P.

You externalised your pain and suffering,
You talked about it openly,
You hid behind no mask.
That was your cure.
And for that you were loved.

You showed that those who were at the top
Were also weak and frail.
That was your strength.
And for that you were loved.

With your suffering,
You identified with those too who suffered:
The deprived, the lonely, the outcast.
That was your joy.
And for that you were deeply loved.

You changed the world in your life.
You changed the world in your death.
You proved to the world, once again,
That love is the greatest force in the Universe,
Has the greatest magnetism,
Can sway even Kings and Queens,
Can topple the proud,
Without bloodshed,
Only your own.
That was your triumph.
And for that you became great,
A part of History,
Never to be forgotten.

Safety First

A neighbour often stops me in the street.
He always asks if I have found a job yet.
I always tell him that I suffer from bad nerves and depression,
That I cannot take stress,
That the doctor doesn't want me to work.

He often sees me with a broad smile on my face,
Dashing about somewhere or other.
He is always polite and friendly towards me,
But I'm sure that underneath
He thinks that I am a scrounger, a malingerer, a fraud.

Do I tell him that voices tell me to write and do strange things?
That I see Angels hovering above the Mind Café,
The Community Centre,
And the Mental Health Day Centre.
That I see devils sitting on the roof of the Job Centre,
The Social Security Office and the Town Hall.
That a short while ago I thought I was MichelAngelo;
Last year it was William Blake.
Do I tell him that two winters ago
Things got so bad that I tried to take my own life?
Do I tell him that I suffer from Schizophrenia?

Or is it safer and wiser perhaps to allow him to think bad of me?

Leonardo da Vinci.
(Also known as John Exell).

John Exell: Male, aged 51, single, no dependents, born 2am, 16th February 1949, failed architect, successful schizophrenic. Artist, poet, writer, sculptor, green, philosopher, mystic. Retired on state sickness benefit. Lives in outer suburb of London, UK.

Melissa Marino Shayne Walls David Ruslander Peter Timusk John Exell