THEME POETRY

JULY 2022 = MENTAL HEALTH

A LIFE UPSIDEDOWN

Duane Anderson

Nebraska, USA


At times, I wished I could

walk on ceilings,

or climb the side of buildings,


impressing everyone I met

with these special talents,

but then, after giving it a second thought, 


I decided I didn’t want to take a chance

of being squished like a bug.

It was not a way I wanted my life to end.

__________

CAGE OF EXPECTATIONS

Shareen Chahal

United States

 

 

Stones of worries,

Spears of anxiety

Pummel and pierce

The tiger, trapped–

 

 

Clawing and howling

At the metal bars,

Its voice oppressed,

And so is its stress

 

 

Up builds the strain,

And what is left

is a hollow shell of

What the tiger used to be–

 

 

Its voice is no more

__________

SEVERE HIGHS, SEVERE LOWS

Tammy Jann

New Hampshire, USA

https://www.tammyjann.com


Tripping, you're tracing

the outer edge

thoughts are racing 

so much to be said

melodies playing

you dance to their tune

swinging and swaying

perform to the room

deplete your joy

reel in the laughter

you are their toy

nothing else matters

there are no limits

it's a matter of time

overrun by spirits

your severe highs


Voices are calling

darkness sets in

stumbling and falling

and losing your grip

trapped in your mind

no keys to this cell

your jailer's unkind

you've lost yourself

love has no meaning

thoughts slip away

your brain is screaming

why should you stay

the world echoes pain

and you're all alone

feelings betrayed

your severe lows

__________

LIKE SPOILED FRUIT 

Linda M. Crate

Pennsylvania, USA

 

 

mental health is important

so please remember to be there

for people in the capacity that you

can when they may need help,

mental health is important so let's stop

treating it like a secret shame that 

someone has to keep quiet

and to themselves because you may

not want to deal with it;

even if you don't have the mental bandwidth

to deal with it you can always be kind to

someone who is suffering they may just want

a person to stand with them in the dark

rather than any advice you could offer them—

give them any help you can because 

I find that those struggling the hardest often

keep their mental health burdens to themselves,

my uncle's demons weren't apparent to me

until he took his own life;

and it was when he took his life that I realized

I didn't really want to die I just wanted all this pain in me to rot away like spoiled fruit.

__________

WELCOME HOME, JIM
Mark Hudson


Jim was gone for nine months or so,

he stopped taking his meds sometime ago.

His first stop was jail for talking back to a cop,

he couldn’t help it-the voices wouldn’t stop.

So, he spent time in jail-where he shouldn’t have been,

then they transferred him to a looney bin.

All he did was sleep and get medication,

and he wrote poetry and did meditation.

Now he is out with two year’s probation,

and he is struggling with his situation.

The government is helping him out a bit,

but Jim looks for work-he doesn’t quit.

Although he has a natural gift for writing,

he is willing to do jobs that aren’t exciting.

He has a family that he has to support,

and they said he was not fit to stand trial in court.

So now he’s back, and he hopes to move,

he has a lot of chances to prove.

That the mentally ill can be given a chance,

his house was once filled with ants.

His home that he had is seeing foreclosure,

but for his writing, he needs exposure.

People don’t realize that he has a gift,

they stigmatize illness and give him short shrift.

How do I know all these things about Jim?

because I’ve been in the same boat as him.

I’m less likely to judge because of my past,

and God is the judge who judges last.

If we judge others, we will be too,

don’t throw stones it comes back to you.

And so welcome home don’t look back!

It is time to get your life back on track!


(Dedicated to the memory of Jim Corcoran, who died of natural causes.)

__________

THE HEALTH OF THE MIND

Kathy Jo Bryant

United States


Happiness and awesome surroundings

Love and joy around us abounding

Are strongly coveted with much desire

Like when you're  cold, getting warm by a fire


But in many places despair doth reign

Folk's minds aren't well, no blessing, just bane 

Many crowded together no place for peace

There's so much noise that will never cease


Depression rules with an ugly hand

There's just so much, none understand

Please look for ways to calm a troubled mind

There are many great ways to be so kind


You can often speak sweet soothing words

That can sound so sweet like singing birds

Just open your heart and brighten the days

Of saddened hearts in hundreds of ways!

__________

HAVE YOU EVER FELT THE MOON CRY?

Christina J.

London, UK

https://www.christina-j.com

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Garrow-King-Garrowlan-books/dp/B086PMZQR3

I have worn the night.

I've watched Selene

drive her chariot

across the edge of heaven

and seen Hemera's dying breath

breathe out the stars.

I have borne the cloak that Nyx

had placed across my heart

and lost myself in Hypnos' arms

as I danced with Thanatos,

for I have worn the night.

So, if I ask you anything

then I will ask you this;

have you ever seen the stars

and wondered why

that all you ever wished for

has only served to bite?

Have you ever felt the moon cry

whilst wearing well the night?

___________

FALLEN BRANCHES

Amanda Nicholson

https://amandasteelwriter.wordpress.com


You dropped into the river like a fallen branch

Floating there for a while 

Waiting for a passer-by to fish you out

But the ducks and riverboats captured their attention 

Nobody stopped to notice the fallen branch

Or pondered how you used to be part of an oak tree

Strong and unshakeable, even in the harshest of storms

But alone, you sunk to the bottom of the river

Unable to float back to the surface

No way of ever reconnecting if you did

__________

THE TEARS WERE UNINTENDED

Rose Menyon Heflin

Wisconsin, USA


The tears were unintended, but they fell like rain, nonetheless, that cold February graveside drizzle paling in comparison.  Someone put a hand on my shoulder in comfort, and I flinched violently away, jerking angrily, embarrassed by my outburst, by my wracking, mournful sobs, which split the air like thunder, but unable to control them, despite my best efforts.  I wanted to be by myself then, not out of chagrin and shame, but greed and selfishness - to have one final moment to share with you alone.


Cold winter and heart

My tears eclipse the raindrops

Memories fall hard

On ground gaping like the sky

The clouds and I weep as one

__________

LUCKY NUMBERS

Grace Garrison

USA

https://www.instagram.com/missgracegarrison/


1, 2, 3, 4, remember it’s inside your head. 

Stay above water with whispers of “so it goes.”

4, 3, 2, 1, why won’t you ignore it instead?


And you cannot help but follow that tangled thread,

so down you go the deep, dark rabbit hole you chose. 

1, 2, 3, 4, remember it’s inside your head.


Check it twice over to be sure of what’s ahead

(though it may sound a little crazy you suppose).

4, 3, 2, 1, why won’t you ignore it instead?


Keep this, photograph that, preserve the long-lost dead:

a ritual for a past that can never close.

1, 2, 3, 4, remember it’s inside your head.


And you try to be perfect while your hands have bled, 

wondering how the pressure just grows and echoes.

4, 3, 2, 1, why won’t you ignore it instead?


There you are drowning in all that remains unsaid, 

a puppet who’s strung up by invisible foes.

1, 2, 3, 4, remember it’s inside your head.

4, 3, 2, 1, why won’t you ignore it instead?

__________

IN TIMES OF MADNESS

Nolo Segundo


In a time of madness,

When insanity is scratched

Onto canvas by angry painters

And sold for peanuts while

They breathe but when long

Dead of too much drugs, then

100 million will go flying away

For a picture without beauty

Or humanity or even truth—

For that suicidal artist was 

Sainted and now sworn by

All the little experts who

Happily declare his greatness.


In a time of madness, how

Will the sane find meaning

When art is the emperor 

Without clothes, naked 

And butt ugly but none

Dare speak the truth:

That there is no truth—

Just anger and hate and

Febrile, unfertile ugliness.


In times of madness, people

Follow shells, moving voids,

And have burnt all the maps

And squashed every compass. 

They follow only one god, as 

It impregnates them with a

Myriad of fears and delusions,

And soon they turn to murder:

A reign of terror, a pogrom,

A civil war, a genocide… or

A simple push of the button.

___________

SAN JUAN DE DIOS

patron saint of the mentally ill and Granada

Karen DuBert

Grenada, Spain


Born before your time

—something you would never know—

eventually history would perceive;

intervening centuries would reveal that

sitting among the outcast

welcoming the broken,

embracing the mentally ill

you were the voice in Granada’s wild-ness.


You leaned against a door of ignorance,

shoved against misunderstanding, 

rejected superstition 

to embrace a little mystery.


Your compassion for the sick of heart and mind

challenged demonizers,

gained you contempt,

and gathered misfits to collapse at your feet.


More like your Master than you knew,

you wore the robe of mental breakdown—

proving your weakness was His strength.


Now the road named for you,

the basilica, that Temple of Love to God,

the icons of your co-suffering

with the least and with Him

sprinkle this city with reflections

of eternal candles

lighting the vision of God’s Hand

in the life of a broken man.

__________

INNER SPACE

Karuna Mistry

United Kingdom

https://karunacreations.wordpress.com/


They say outer space is the final-most frontier

But equally the inner space – between one’s ears

Through nurturing one’s personal mental state

In wellbeing and mind fullness – to not vacate

 

          The secret to meditation is to focus attention

          On an object or a subject of one’s inclination

          To withdraw from the senses and disengage

          Only to find refreshment when re-engaged


                    Seek out a secluded place, say under a tree

                    Ideally and preferably away from the city

                    Sitting position padded and cross-legged

                    Focus on the self is where one is headed


Without any distraction or disturbance

Breathe long and chant sacred mantras

Withdraw senses like a tortoise its limbs

For this is where the power of yoga begins


          To gain one’s clarity and peace of mind

          To claim back quality pieces of time

          To connect with nature and the earth

          To connect with God and the universe


                    An ancient art known for eons of years

                    A time-tested practice to end all fears

                    Saints and sages acted through the ages

                    Journey the same path despite the changes


Reference: Bhagavad Gita – chapter 6

__________

JONATHAN, 1990-2018
for my sister and brother

Merryn Rutledge, Ed. D

New England, USA

http://www.merrynpoetry.org.

https://twitter.com/Merrynrevisions


After prowling the loveless pen where his birth mother held him, 

he found a wider world in you.


A toddler runs, whole body laughing

except for eyes that wear a startled look from early loss.


Bullied for his brilliance and outbursts of dismembering grief, 

he absorbed his peers’ assurance of unworthiness 


while giving out unguarded love, as when he touched 

our mother’s cracked cheeks and keened that she would die and leave us.


Hungry to learn the world by heart, 

he hunted fossils, wrote a book when he was nine,


befriended Hell’s Angels who crashed a peace march

he was walking with a Buddhist monk,


fed and stroked the wounded animals at the refuge,

even the slit-eyed snakes and armadillos.


Later, in AA, he cupped his ear to his brethren’s hard shells

to listen to the ocean roar of their souls’ motion.


Now that he is gone, I meet his avatars in young men

in subways, airports, city streets–


the ones who decorate themselves with earrings, chains 

and tattoos patterned like snakeskin.


Once I would have disregarded them as freaks.

Now I know to love them as they are.


If there is such a thing as resurrection, it was your raising Jon 

and though he stumbled into darkness more than once,


you kept a steady gaze on his better selves 

until he was ready to grant himself a share of love.

__________

DEATH DAY BIRTHDAY

Mike Ball

Massachusetts, USA

https://www.facebook.com/harrumph


Allow me the pretense (and the comfort) 

Of coincidence upon my own day.


Yes, we knew each other both deep and wide

Way back when both of us had much hair,

Hers long and straight, mine blond cotton candy.


A peril of an overdue search engine 

Is Find A Grave as the premier result.

A year younger, she died two decades past.


I don’t know why or even how she died, 

I do know when, my 41st birthday.

Allow me just that one coincidence.


She was brilliant and, well, crazy, she said.

We used to call that manic-depressive 

Before the clinical, cold bipolar.


Her wrists witnessed several attempts in blood

To release her internal suffering.


If she even thought of me on that year,

She surely would have known my natal day,

But allow me the coincidence, please.


Her young heart may have simply clutched too hard.

Cancer might have crushed her that very day.

She may have lost on the nearby two-lane

To a pickup crossing the center line.


No matter how alert her mind had been

I don’t accept the portent of that date,

Only one of hundreds that very year.


Coincidence and don’t say otherwise.

Anything else  is vanity…and grief.

With loose-ended demise she cannot haunt.

__________

EMOTIONS

Najma Nasser Bhatti

Sindh Pakistan


Desires are like venom,

Behold your thoughts,

Just like a captive,

Emotions are fire,

Which may sometimes burn 

your honour,

Emotions speak just like,

Sunset sky has thousands words,

Depend up to you,

What you want to be?

Dangerous or powerful one,

Emotions are like oceans,

Which has no destiny,

Sometimes happy, sometimes sad,

There should  no reason to be relax,

Come on stand like strong fort,

Once you learn command on emotions,

You will be ever victorious.

___________

MIND IN BODY

Joanne Bowles

Sussex, UK


The saying is…

Mind AND body

Surely the saying should be Mind IN body.

A small difference that could make a profound difference


Haven't you often thought it strange how the two are separated medically. 

The mind is very much IN body. Isn't it?


There must be a better way to approach how  we treat people with mental health issues


How we're treating our minds reflects how we're treating our bodies and I'm sure

you will agree how we're treating our bodies   reflects how we're treating our minds


Let's be mindful about how we tackle this issue


It's time for our conscious minds to  subconsciously promote combined wellbeing.

We can no longer

Continue to live 

in this unconscious haze of indifference.


The mind and body are so intrinsically connected more so than we've ever realized

and therefore, the new approach should be

Mind IN body .


No more time to be mindless


Diagnosing any conditions are about looking at the bigger picture.

Communicating how

the healed body can affect the mind and how the healed mind can affect the body

has to be the new way.


We are currently so focused on healing our planet with climate changes at present,

let's also start to heal the people that live in it too.

A fundamental lifestyle change with huge benefits for our society.

__________

RUNNING RED

Julie A. Dickson

New Hampshire, USA

Stark white handkerchief he handed to her

  suggested surrender

to wipe at the corner of bloodied lips

  as if by accident

this had occurred rather than by hand

  raised and struck

She peered down at this crimson smear

  would never wash

out, not from white cotton, nor memory

  permanent stain

slashed like the knife held to white skin

  trickle of blood

mesmerized, hypnotized her face blank

  but for single tear

rolling silently down plump brown cheek

  wrists running red

__________

PANDEMIC FRIENDSHIP

Karol Nielsen

New York, United States


I didn’t see a single friend for a year and a half during the pandemic. My midtown Manhattan office closed, and I began working remotely from my parents’ house in Connecticut. I went into the city to check on my coop and pick up my mail but the most I did was eat outside at neighborhood restaurants—all alone. I kept up with friends through texts, calls, and social media but I didn’t make any plans. I usually wait for my friends to initiate things, and nobody asked to meet up. Everyone was hunkered down. I finally moved back to my Upper East Side coop and an old friend wanted to get together after his trip through Portugal, Spain, and France. We had dated for several years when he moved to New Orleans, and it didn’t last. We hadn’t seen each other for several years, but it was like old times when we met for drinks and then dinner at a Korean place. We talked about poetry and writing, teaching, and mutual friends from our urban writers’ colony that had been a second home for years. He wanted to come over for ice cream afterwards, but I needed to go home. It was intense to see my first friend after so long and I needed to decompress alone.

__________

WHO OWNS THESE BONES

Matthew Donovan

USA


For reasons that lie beyond all I might find, 

my mind decided it was time for a cleansing 

fire. Tortured and fried from inside; behind 

wide eyes. Victimized, tried, and capsized 

beneath a brine of frightful insights. 

Sentenced to pulse pumping high. Tight 

stomach convulsing and tied. Only flight 

could fight the pyres of my own false truths. 

Each day and each night’s cold illusions 

of this life’s ultimate conclusions pose threats 

with no viable solutions. I want only absolution.


New man in my mirror, faking. 

For atonement I cry alone, shaking. 

No way known to take a stone 

from my throat and break it. 

Tell me if you’ve known delusions 

that dethroned your constitution. 

Making the days cold, grey and confusing. 


A great weight holding me. It fed an endless drone in me. 

Each day’s waking look I’d take, its draining space enfolding me. 

On the twentieth century’s ultimate day a delicate fate enfolded me.

As patient as Satan’s baking hatred like he stands over, scolding me. 

Take thy beak from off my neck again and free the gold in me! 

Father’s pay keeps care away; no doctors fit to chauffeur me. 

Nine reasons I believed my deepest doubts would all grow old with me. 

Insurance just a lie 

  that could not break me from life’s vacancy. 

My age just two-times-ten, 

  engrossed in fear and sex’s latency. 


I pray but no one stays. There’s yet no saviors in this play. 

Only an undone son wishing to shout that I have won this day. 

Or else I’ll rip the sun, possessions, memories and the soul from me 

and taste the steel as daddy’s sapping gun pierces its hole in me.


Ever been flown from all notions of home? 

Sown seeds for growing spring tones? 

Placing new cornerstones that get thrown in oceans?

As hopelessness spins cyclones, churning waves of unknowns,

postponing all strokes toward the host of your goals? 

Well…I no longer know who owns these bones.

__________

PARITY

Michele Mekel

Pennsylvania, USA

https://www.instagram.com/ShaktiEnergy/


“What number is the pain?”

they ask me in the ER.

“On a scale of 1 to 10?”


They mean, of course, physical discomfort,

such as that thrumming intensely

through my abdomen.


But why don’t they also ask

about my other hurts

in the same way?


The agony of your leaving,

for example—

what number was that?


Perhaps, how I’d quantify

the misery endured

the summer of suicidal ideation?


Or the suffering of living

in a world set on

pulling itself apart?


Don’t these afflictions

deserve an intensity score,

just the same?


Maybe, we simply don’t want to know—

as we’ve no pills or patches

to ease such distress.

__________

SICK AND TIRED

Sarfraz Ahmed

United Kingdom

https://www.instagram.com/sarfrazahmedpoet/

https://twitter.com/Sarfraz76194745

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarfrazahmedcareersadviser/


Sick and tired

Weary of these nightmares

That pulsate

Fill me with anxiety and hate

The rigid anticipation

A sensation that flows.


Takes me to places

Where no one needs to go

Hallucinating and out of control

Left alone once again

With nothing but my demons

That I cannot control.


The cigarette ash

The alcohol stains

A steady flow of ecstasy

Drips constantly into my veins.


And here I am once more

Enslaved

A victim of a crime

An addiction that I did not create

Alone again once more

Suffering and full of heartache.

__________

MY POP-POP E.J. “THE SNAKEMAN” 

Evan Yandrisovitz

United States

https://www.facebook.com/evan.yandrisovitz

Voracious vipers slithering around your half-beating heart, 

absorbing the energy from your grease-soaked hand. 

I yearn to be like you Pop-Pop, your counterpart. 

We’d launch the PlayStation, smile, and push start. 

I hoped the time I spent with you on that ripped up couch would

expand, but the voracious vipers slithered too soon around your

half-beating heart. 

You knew every snake and reptile. You owned every book and stored every chart

in those cramped little dressers. I snatched the books coated with oiled fingerprints, your brand. 

I attempted to be like you Pop-Pop, your counterpart.

Bullied because you had no father, but you were smart. 

You proved them wrong. You raised a family of five, owned land, 

and even played guitar and vocals for “The Happy Yanks,” your band. 

until the voracious vipers slithered around your half-beating heart.

Despite my yearnings, we are still miles apart.

Your strengths are my weaknesses, trapping me in quicksand

as I consider everything, I’d need to do to be your counterpart.

I cannot play instruments or sing songs without strain. 

Despite having your books, I don’t have your brain. 

I like wearing clothes, not a mechanic’s outfit 

and I sure cannot make any sense of a tool kit.

I can’t work my ass off without applause, 

or experience life without caring about laws. 

Or shovel coal on those windy winter days like a human smokestack 

not caring about the pain or arthritis in my back. 

 

 

I won’t just eat hotdogs, potatoes, and delicious sweets 

or hoard every box, every cobweb, and all the damn receipts 

from movies you collected and shared with me. 

Oh, if only I could live my life so carefree. 

 

 

I don’t want my passions and desires to take advantage of my soul 

and whittle down my body like I have no self-control. 

As they did to you, leaving you bound to your bed for four years

making your declining health one of your family’s greatest fears.

 

 

I’m sorry Pop-Pop, but I can’t be your counterpart. 

Though I don’t think I need to. There is only one E.J. “The Snakeman” 

and I don’t need to become you to be like you. 

I want to take those memories and spread the love you delivered to the world, but I won’t be your counterpart. 

Hell, the way you lived made sure no one could.

__________

ANTS

F. Kate Langan

Canada

https://twitter.com/langan_fk

https://www.facebook.com/fkatelangan

https://fkatelanganauthor.wordpress.com

There is no poison 

Strong enough

To control the ants

That march up my spine

Encircle my throat

Line up on each side of my jaw

And punch a furrow into my brow. 

Each insect is determined

To deposit its black bag or worms

Inside my brain, and I am powerless

Against their onslaught.

The doctors just call me crazy

And I take their pills,

But I am the canary 

In the coalmine

Of twenty-first century society

__________

HARDLY

Morrow Dowdle

North Carolina, USA


in the mirror she can believe 

that she looks healthy 

or even heavy


the glass plane too close

to the emotional filters

of perception


it is only in the photograph

hard and fixed as the bell

which cannot un-ring


in which she finally sees

the suicide planes of face

the blind slats of chest


the coat hanger of shoulder

bones fit only for a closet

a pathetic collection


that somehow conjured 

the round boy sitting with her 

in the bathtub


and the steadfast milk

stew of hormone

and shed flesh


his loyal smile shows

he knows nothing of hunger

the one resource she hoards


strange creator 

giving everything else 

to what she makes 


making sure 

they clean 

their plates

___________

SPOTIFY SONG 

Sudakshina Kashyap

Assam, India 
https://www.linkedin.com/in/sudakshina-kashyap-she-her-77aa4b1b5
https://www.instagram.com/sudakshina_kashyap/
http://sudakshinakashyap.blogspot.com/

 

When anxiety slides into my

Spotify playlist,

I gently tap the play button.

Anxiety amplifies the volume

by 10 decibels,

steadily decreases it down

and pauses briefly.

Anxiety rewinds the music effortlessly

to tango with depression

and they reinvent a song—

Play. Pause. Rewind.

Father asks me to stop being so sad,

but sad isn't an organ of depression.

My mind is an oval case

and depression is a reactant

causing chemical reactions

with my caustic thoughts

but there is no catalytic chamber,

so they upheaval and burst open

into a violent disaster,

because

depression finds death in life

and sadness finds a reason.

Father asks me to live my life,

but my life is a contraption

which has been twisted

and bent out of normal shape.

It is a barrel containing

anonymous voices and similar visages;

they cluster around like octopuses

and urge me to get out of my room

because they probably know

I'm imprisoned and claustrophobic.

When father tells me to go out

and have fun with friends,

I tell him that friends are humans

and humans are

complicated metaphors.

They stretch like a trampoline

and play a music so soft

but leave a free verse with no tune.

And fun is a crummy bed

I always distract myself from sleeping in.

Father asks me of the reasons

behind my rusted mental state,

and I say,

depression is an infant

with no baby teeth.

A Dalmatian with no dark spots,

A damask with no patterns woven into it,

AN ILLNESS WITH NO ROOT CAUSE.

Depression is Casanova,

it makes love to my mind,

and screws it slowly, then rapidly.

Father tells me to breath,

And yes, I do. 

But depression is a noose,

it keeps tightening more than often

and I can barely breath.

My mind is a carcass and depression wraps it up like a cellophane.

Father, 

depression is a tombstone, 

inscribed by suicide notes,

laid over the grave of my mind. 

I enter my room,

write another poem

while depression braids my hair

and plays hide and seek with my mind;

and I scream—

 

 

STOP

STOP

STOP

 

 

but depression is a strict pedagogue

and it swings me like a pendulum—

 

 

Left and right.

Left. Right.

Left.

So it kisses my stamped knives,

caresses my hand to

ooze red watercolor and sings—

 

 

Play. Pause. Rewind.

__________

ODD CHILD

Jane Fitzgerald

United States

He was a skittish child, timid and vulnerable
His big still eyes reflected dark dread like
a night creature suddenly stunned by light
His teacher nurtured him, sensing him alone, adrift  
like a skiff on a vast sea, distancing him from others
The children fled at three, but the room held a secret

She spied him cowering, balled up in a corner

trying to be as invisible as the fear that froze him 

She quietly questioned, are you afraid to leave

The child quivered, they are making me go to
a psychiatrist today, it might be a mean monster

Understanding, she whispered, all you do is talk to

someone who cares, that's all, just talk, nothing else 

He slowly uncoiled, anxiety and tension

airing from his body, unknown horrors allayed

He shouldered his backpack

weighted with books and demons

and headed out the door

A small sigh lightening his load

__________

WHEN VULTURES LOOM

In Memory of Philip Heaps

1988-2015

Shelly Blankman

Maryland, USA

 

Philip was a tall and lean man of 27 with sandy hair,

a twin raised in a loving family. He made his friends

laugh, his teachers proud. Perhaps blinded by his kindness,

no soul sensed his solitude among a social swarm. 

 

When vultures finally descended, Philip ended his life.

But questions lingered. Praise at his service spilled

like red wine, staining souls that tears could not wash away.

Shame mutes truth until it’s too late. Vultures soar in silence. 

__________

4AM

Dona McCormack

Ohio, USA

https://www.instagram.com/itcomesdowntochance/


Can’t sleep, can’t

get comfortable.

Skin crinkles

like a dirty shirt

Old breath moves

in my nose

stale air

Nothing has worked


Wood floor

presses cold

against my soles

Sheets pull off

easy from the mattress,

as though they were ready

They billow in the dark

and I smell you

escaping

your ghost

stealing out of the fabric


Linens tangle

in my fists


Goodbye smells like

laundry

at 4am

__________

TANTRIC CHANT

Thomas Piekarski


Mansplaining strictly prohibited.

                                      Mountain peak tantamount.

                 Explorative retorts tutorial.

Instant impression immanent.

                                        Sensory sessions seedless.

              Patronizing servants lionized.

Decision's revision impending.

                                        Ablution possibly soluble.

                 Presumptive oratorio triumphant.

Perceived time dissolute.

                                   Prudence generally accepted.

            Remaindered brains entombed.

Finished product demolished.

                                 Preeminent evidence detected.

                  Scientific edicts erected.

Astrological alchemy revived.

                                              Infinite love included.

                      Safe havens vanish.

Trepidation whited out.

                                            Death defies demigods.

         Age fictive revisionism.

Prayer usurps desperation.

                                Atmospheric spirits ubiquitous.

               Rock displaces sod.

__________

WALDMANN’S TALE

Laura Grevel

United Kingdom

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx1dH7vxwIljVxPd8fs_9xQ

https://www.facebook.com/LauraHGrevel

https://lgrevel.wordpress.com

http://lgrevel.org


This world’s a bone yard of bicycle parts:

frames footless and wheelless crying for friends,

frames waiting for hands with grease in their veins.

This world is a bone yard of pandemic hearts:

valves bloodless and cheerless waiting for love,

limbs waiting for touch with time-withered locks,

waiting for something, for someone to come,

for something to break, for this earth to quake!


When out of the woods rides a Waldmann who smiles.

He’s tanned and he’s fit from riding for miles,

on his strong trusty bike, what’s not to like?

From Wien to Berlin, he zick-zacks through Czech,

round mountains and caves where stones call his name,

smiling at birdlings, at firs and at bears,                                      

he’s out on a lark with quite a long start.     

A 700 kilometer hark!

One week to Berlin, one week back to Wien!

He sleeps in the ferns and does with earthworms confirm,

that life is a park.  Ein schöner Park! he remarks.


Just think:

one week to Berlin, one week back to Wien,

skimming through meadows with bees at his toes,

singing through woods with belief in his teeth.

The bone yard of bikes is a wealth and a crown. 

So, leap on your steed, cinch together your parts,

join Waldmann right now and criss-cross this hearth!


Ride forth!  Depart!

Zick-zack the earth, weave leaves in your mane,

sing to the sky a new lullaby,

paint simplify on your Versailles!

Sing to the sky!  Sing as you fly!

*Wien = Vienna in German

*Waldmann =forest man

*Ein schöner Park! = A beautiful park!

*Berlin and Wien should be pronounced to rhyme with “teen”.

_________

TIC TAC TOE

Artemis

California, USA

https://sites.google.com/view/artemis-writing-portfolio/about


Crick, Crack, Snap.

I draw an X, 

You draw an O,

In in this game 

Of tic tac toe.

You went first.

Now you’re ahead. 

Crick, crack, snap.

I just wanna go back to bed.

Crick, crack, snap.

This is no game,

I feel insane,

And I wish it would

STOP.

Crick, Crack, Snap.

My neck is spinning. 

My neck is the O

I can’t duck my head low, 

When they’re all watching 

My neck

Go and go.

I have

A tic disorder:

I am the X,

But I was given an O.

Can’t you see?:

X never marks the spot,

When a simple game for you,

Is a losing bet for me. 

__________

GRANDPA’S SECRET

Betty Naegele Gundred

California, USA


When we arrive 

at my grandparents’ farm 

in the summer of ’59

a difference stirs the air.

Grandma gets up from the swing

to greet us . . . alone.


Grandpa does not rise to pick us up,

no prickly whiskers tickling our faces.

We find him rocking 

in a chair perched upon the porch,

listless, quiet, staring off in the distance – 

he barely nods hello.


Why isn’t he pumping

water from the well,

trucking in the hay,

taking the cows to pasture?


My ten-year-old ears

can overhear whispers,

Mom and Grandma 

in clandestine conversation . . .

“What’s a nervous breakdown?” 

I ask my mother.

She turns around surprised

and hushes me.

“Oh, it’s nothing!” she says,

tensing a smile,

“Grandpa’s just tired.”

__________

AROUND MY DAY IN SMILES

Lakshman Bulusu

New Jersey, USA

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox/FMfcgzGpFqdCPjZJBgqvBfLDNlQPcBzp

I live with a mental disability, 

OCD, Bipolar, and Depression--too hard to comprehend;

It shatters each day of mine like fallen pieces 

of glass, that I hope will join one day.

The tablets with their counts,

arranged in order of weekdays and weekends;

make me weary of taking them.

I feel like owing them attention.

As the day closes into night and 

I cuddle up in my bed fast asleep,

it all unfolds in smiles.


Morning:


I discover I have to come to terms with my life,

and try to navigate my day around smiles--with the expectation that

my suffering which is primary would become secondary.

I wake up looking at the coffee maker, 

thinking of hot fumes of fresh coffee.

I have the coffee with its chocolaty aroma and

a toasted crispy sesame bagel cut in half, 

each bite bigger than the previous one.

Then I enjoy taking a shower with background music,

that brings in the gold of the morning.

I sit down to work, check my tasks for the day, and update my status.

I thrill at my boss’s feedback, good job, keep it up.


I smile the first time that now is primary.


Afternoon:


I relish my lunch, take a walk, 

with the afternoon sun aligning vertically over my head.

I finish up the remainder of my tasks for the day and

join my family with enthusiasm akin to that of a newborn poet.

As I embrace my spouse and hold my kids in my arms,

I feel new warmth, a sense of a big moment.

At times when I am reminded of my suffering,

I whisper to myself, let it go, let it go, and shallow the depth of it.


I smile the second time that now is primary.


Evening:


I venture out with my family; cheer my kids as they start playing

bubbles, scooter rides, and cycling with their friends.

In the course of an evening walk,

my thoughts, range from emotions to variations of current affairs;

constancy of change to fidelity of love.

What once wandered like bubbles, now seems to take a freefall of ideas

and fill up my mind as pieces of wit.


I smile the third time that now is primary.


Night:


As sunset slowly creeps into night,

just as I feel my important tasks for the day are done,

the finish line seems stretching and distant.

I muse about the pieces of wit within my mind,

question myself, "Who else can discern their meaning?"

One particular thought seems to question me back,

"Can broken thoughts join broken hearts?"

I come to the conclusion that,

"Love is all about reciprocation and trust."


I smile the fourth time that now is primary.


Who knows that I am challenged?

Even though anyone does come to know, 

what effect is it going to have?

I think my smiles answer these questions.

I know that I am challenged and

try not to ruin the ambience present.

I calm myself into sleep with the assurance

I can go around another new day in smiles.

____________

SOBER, WILD, AND FREE

Rachel Miller

Canada

https://www.instagram.com/collectivemindca/

https://www.facebook.com/thecollectivemindca/

https://thecollectivemind.ca


The more sober I become

The wilder my mind gets

And I’m not serious all the time

I’m actually having fun

Curious about this reality

I so desperately want to avoid—

Don’t we all?

Numbing ourselves away from it

With distraction and decay

What is it we want to avoid?

And so, I venture forth

Let this wild mind run free

And what I’ve found is

though I feel a bit crazy

It’s more fun this way

Not detained

By physical need

To be normal

To be calm

To be dumbed down

To be dulled down

To be appropriate

To be manageable

To be constrained

Just as I am

I let myself be
Sober, wild, and free

__________

THE STARLIGHT THAT RETURNED TO HIS EYES

Genevieve Ray

England 

https://linktr.ee/GenevieveRayPoet

@genevievefirepoet - Instagram

I have loved him,

In patient silence.

Learning his dimensions,

The galaxies of his mind.

 

On first meeting,

Seeing the glint,

Spark light of hope.

Quickly diminished.

 

The soft vowels and consonants,

This was a candle that  lost its fire,

This was a shout that's now a whisper.

The essence still there, but so much lost.

 

What to do when seeing lost potential?

Mutter in patronizing pitying sorrow?

Over challenge and let them fall fallow?

Or to raise up in sincere gentleness?

 

Introduce an astronaut,

To the vastness of the universe.

Let the natural verve, become pilot.

Watching him fly to the stars. 

 

Ad Astra my quiet love.

You exist now in peace,

With the ever-changing cosmos.

Expanding, knowing what you're worth. 

 

A love that lives in precious silence.

For the starlight that returned to your eyes.

Worth every treasure on this Earth. 

__________

THE OVERTHINKER

(Don’t read too much into it…)

Emma J Nokes

Worcestershire, England


Head so full, creative, resourceful

thoughts smashing through my brain like a jet plane,

Forceful.

Think it, feel it, don’t feel it, don’t think it.

Just stop, don’t stop, use it, ignore it.


Worst case scenario, catastrophizing

Job loss, homeless, life lost, agonizing. 


Crippling anxiety, why me, can’t be

just me, must be, fairly common?

People get through it, daily.


Snap out, shake up and feel the guilt,

for others it’s harder

you’ve got a roof, things and food in your larder 


Can’t sleep, must sleep need to keep a brave face

keep going, go to bed go to work go home, dream chase


Advice? write it down, draw it, sing it till I  

feel like all the pain is being treated with morphine

from the creativity, seeping from within my soul, but it

won’t work. Just what clue, have they got about me, about my lot?

Counsel in friendship all great ‘til 

they jump ship and then, what?

everything’s still as bad if not worse

because now I feel the curse of “what did I do wrong?”

no reply, no call, it’s been minutes… why so long?


Their status updated, with friends tagged who wouldn’t normally

be given the time of day, now they’re ‘#family’

purposely not including me 


Nights out missed,

not invited. Invited but, only out of pity so, 

why should I put myself out? I’ll stay in bed 

and think about how they didn’t invite me,

instead. 


I’ll think it, I’ll feel it (don’t think it, don’t feel it)

I’ll just stop (don’t stop)

I’ll use it (ignore it)


Don’t read too much into it 

__________

MIXED MESSAGES

Gary Beck

New York, USA

http://garycbeck.com

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorGaryBeck/


The President says, 
“Go home.

We were robbed.

But go home.

You’re good people.

I love you.

But we’re victims of fraud.

Go home.

And if you stop on the way
and rampage through
the Capitol Building,
the way they do 
in Venezuela,
other distressed countries,
you are still good people.

I love you.

Go home.”

__________

THE DAILY BATTLE

John Ganshaw

New York, USA


The Sun so gently rising, sneaking up 

and peeking in through the window, 

casting its warm rays upon my sleepy,

tired, and weary bones.  Awakening me 

from my tumultuous sleep, chasing the

demons that have been haunting me 

throughout the night. I turn my back in 

hopes this pestilent pest will go away.  Allow

me to stay in here in the solitude I quietly

beckon.  Provide me peace to embrace my

pitiful existence.  Unwilling and unwanting to

face the days and those who inhabit them. Let

me rest in a world of my own.  Go away and 

leave me alone.  Why it won’t take this hint I

do not know.  Stop bothering me, can’t you see

I have no interest in taking part in the brightness

you cast.  Relentless you are! Hindering my plans

to bathe in my self-pity. Forcing me to abandon 

my wish to embrace this sorrowful life. 

Your persistence renders me useless to fight 

and I must succumb to your wishes. I sit up, then 

stand up, acknowledging your win.  Today, I will 

push my fight with depression aside and give myself to you

__________

TODAY

R. A. Hutchins

Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

https://www.instagram.com/ra_hutchins_author/

https://www.facebook.com/RAHutchinsAuthor/

https://authorrachelhutchins.com

Today,

The day

It has to be.

Determination, fueled by desperation.

Pain, Breathe

Shooting, Breathe

Dizzy, Breathe.

Not today.

Not to be.


Today,

The day

Please let it be.

Resolution, no regression.

Pain, Fight

Spreading, Fight

Darkness, Fight.

Please God.

But no.

Today,

The day?

Wait and see.

Hesitation, hope wavering.

Pain, why?

Scorching, why?

Engulfed, why?

Not now.

But ever?

Today,

Another day

What will be …

Resignation, absent of relief.

Pain, embrace

Consuming, embrace

Blackness, embrace.

Hope lost.

Gone forever?


Today,

The Day

It has to be.

A ray, a glimmer.

Pain, Exhale

Spasm, Exhale

Headrush, Exhale.

Today.

The day.


Foot connects with floor.

Freedom

  Regained

Life

  Renewed

Hope

  Restored.

_________

BELIEVE

Pratibha Savani

United Kingdom

https://www.instagram.com/pratibhapoetryart/

https://www.facebook.com/pratibhapoetryart

 

     get up

          stand tall

don't let anyone tell you

               you'll fall

you are the miracle

          inside

               willing your way

               to s u c c e e d

you keep telling yourself

          'you can do it!'

'try' is not a word you need

          no 'ifs', 'buts' or 'can't'

in your vocabulary

               "YES I CAN!"

will be your sacred mantra now!

          repeating it each time

when you hit the ground!

     no one can tear you down

          not this time round!

when your mind is set

                    h I g h

               and you believe

          you can achieve

and be that shining star

          aim for that goal 

     that you want to receive

               it's in your grasp

     just a MINDSET away

those POWER words

                         are set in play

                         only

          when you

                    b  e   l  I  e   v  e

__________

REMEMBER

Adrian David


When your spirit fades 

and your soul is broken...


When all hope is lost

and you can fight no more…


When your eyes flow with tears

and your heart is ripped apart...


When pain overwhelms you 

and you can’t suffer any longer...


When you fall prey to distress

and are on the verge of succumbing...


When you feel like giving up

and finally decide to quit...


Remember — You were the sperm that won.

The one who raced against millions 

to enter this beautiful world.


You were born a champion.

__________

TURNING AROUND

Pankhuri Sinha

India

 

So easy to turn it around!

Make an allegation of a

Condition, non existing in the person!

And leave them to prove their innocence!

Make a total victim of the person!

 

 

In an age when awareness

And empathy for mental health

Wellness, deviance and challenges

Is at a new height

Why use it as a cover for crime?

 

 

Totally possible my dears

To stalk someone and upon their question

Call them mad! Well, not so much!

Only mentally disturbed!

Don't' believe it?

Open the archives

Look for evidence in strange places

Diaries of women, or even their testimonies

Given sometimes to those confining them

Forcefully treating them

For a disease they don't suffer from

No denying the disease, its real

Its possible, like aids, like cancer

Like covid and its many mutants

But the mind, the human mind

Is so different from the body

Mental life so far apart from the physical

And a mental problem can be invented

So easily, as a pretext to keep

The women away!

 

 

From any powerful position

Any governing post or even 

Being the head of the family

In charge of the treasury 

Bestowing fortune upon the members

Distributing among sons and daughters!

 

When simple behavior 

Simple cross examination 

Can reveal so much! 

 

Yet, young girls are labelled

Mentally unbalanced 

Just to prevent them 

From going places! 

Getting things accomplished!

 

Isn’t it high time 

To resolve to never 

Do it again !

Never use a disease 

As a charge 

Just to confine

To arrest growth! 

 

Sure, not a difficult task! 

Meticulous investigation 

Of all such levied charges

Will reveal all!

 

Heinous punishment

Good deterrent! 

Just as important

As cure for the sick

Is no motivated 

Use of medicine

On the fit and fine

For larger gains!

 

Let’s make the laws

To make this world 

Safe, happy and healthy!

__________

VOICES INSIDE MY HEAD

 

Kassie J Runyan

New York, USA

https://www.kassiejrunyan.com

help would

be emptied

by others

taken and pushed

lopsided in anger

now friends drift further

and enemies shout

from inside my own head

they tap

tap

tap

against my skill

trying to get out

into the world

shouting and snarling.

the friends

used to quiet them

hush them into

submission

those friends now gone

and the voices run wild

in charge of the narrative

clenching my teeth

and squeezing my eyes

to keep the voices inside.

I breathe in

and out

and the voices

start to calm

to only a dull

roar.

__________

BONE

Kassie J Runyan

New York, USA

https://www.kassiejrunyan.com

 

body and mind ache

 

I enter the world daily

 

bowing to the weight

__________

SPEAK OUT.

Melanie Haagman

United Kingdom

Facebook.com/girlontheedge90

 

There once lived a man who had so much to give,

He had so many reasons to continue to live.

But the world was cruel and the mind unkind,

And internal peace was a challenge to find.

So he battled alone, feared what others may say,

And continued to hide his true sadness away.

Faking a smile was success he achieved,

When he said he was fine, it was always believed.

He wanted to speak but the fear was too strong,

So he battled in silence like nothing was wrong.

No desire to eat, his whole being felt numb,

Even he didn’t recognise the man he’d become.

Soon breathing became a draining chore,

He was so tired but didn’t sleep anymore.

This stayed the same for what felt like forever,

Where life seemed like a hopeless endeavour…

Until one day he picked up the phone,

And discovered right then that he wasn’t alone.

Reassured that he was far from weak,

He broke his silence and started to speak.

And he gained the support that was required,

Now to live, not to die is what he desired.

And through sharing his story and his pain,

He aims to help others to do the same.