to say we were lost boys would be cliché
but clichés have ways
of cementing truths into language
like hard red suns that scorched West Philly & warm beers we guzzled ‘till we couldn’t walk straight & time went missing like a thief
who stole my innocence
& we packed into an old sedan on a road to nowhere &
perhaps, if time is not linear, this had to happen &
if free will is a myth, we had no choice in the matter,
merely swigging, smoking, fighting in adolescent wastelands
in psych wards, they take your belt, shoelaces
anything you could use to hurt yourself
when I’m there, I fear the world will kill me
so, I give them my belt, tell ’em to take good care of it
& I talk to others there
& I feel damaged & I identify with compatriots –
a Black man has been slaughtered, again
shot like a dog, in front of family
did you see? it was broadcast
to millions of eyeballs
he suffered from bipolar
a disorder i share with this
I didn’t realize I was sinking
‘til I ended up in the psych ward –
red stitches on a woman’s neck
she looks like a scarecrow
she sliced her own throat
to make the torment end
I was sinking
(Photo by Mishal Ibrahim on Unsplash)
I attended an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for my mental health in early 2019. It was a few months after my dad had died, and I was in bad shape. IOP helped a great deal, and there was something one person said during group therapy I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
We’re living in dangerous times. Some people (like my girlfriend) seem to be able to cope with it better than me. For me, though, a lot of the things going on in the world have me feeling very on edge.
I recently got some bad news that a friend of mine from recovery suddenly passed away. He was only 32 years old. As these dark pandemic days drag on, I felt I needed to write this post to process my emotions.
Anxiety is like watching a movie where
you’re the lead actor and each scene gets worse –
countless calamities occur, eventually ending in
one big tragedy – meanwhile, you sit alone
in the dark theater and worry and cry,
your muscles tense, your stomach sick,
‘till you can’t breathe no more.
(Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash)
I step inside Mrs. Dalloway’s mind:
it twists, turns – I’m lost in the maze,
as she spills thoughts on the page –
a link to her consciousness;
it’s a stream that overflows,
breaks embankments, floods my psyche
‘till I put the book down,
lest my mind goes manic and
doesn’t come back.
(Photo credit: A portrait photo of Virginia Woolf from Britannica.com).
Note: This poem was inspired by Mrs. Dalloway, the classic novel by Virginia Woolf. I’m reading it now, and I love it, but I’ve had to put it down a couple of times because I felt like it was triggering a manic episode.
The end is closer than we think,
the wild-eyed prophet says.
He, who has spent time in psych wards,
sees visions of hellfire at corner stores.
What are these images of demons and flashes of inspiration?