Category Archives: Poetry

To Feel It All

If you communicate in tears and grief and anger and despair and joy like I do, hold these expressions as sacred, because they are. Know that these emotions are your wisdom, not a flaw. Don’t believe Them when They say that how you feel is a sign that something’s wrong with you.

I cried twice today– the second time, just thirty minutes ago– and as the tears slipped down my cheeks a vision came to me.

In it, I was sitting before an ex-shrink of mine. Heavy tears streamed down my face like waterfalls after winter’s thaw. Now, this was a man whose labeling eyes once penetrated my skin in diagnostic desecration. But in this vision, all I felt for him was compassion. For in meeting his eyes with mine, I could feel so clearly how they emanated the very same fear I once felt, myself:

Fear
of all the waves
and storms and
freezes and melts and
fires and rains of my being.

Fear of who I really was– and of who I had the power to be.

In this vision, he was so afraid of himself.

As I kept looking into his eyes, I could see as clear as day how lost and disconnected he was from himself, his emotions, his authentic state of being. I could see how this had thrown him into a deep state of mourning he wasn’t yet aware of.

And I could see how all of this–
his loss, his disconnection, his mourning and his lack of awareness of it all–
had eventually led him to believe that
answers are best found through
the act of labeling another,
an other.

For it keeps you safe from having to acknowledge that you’re really just an other to yourself.

As his steel blue eyes and my crying ones began to commune with one other, I felt my compassion for him deepen. Because I now saw him for who he really was: a scared, wounded child. A child who, like me, had gotten swept up in the false promises of what our culture teaches us it means to be human, to be worthy, to belong… We were the same, this shrink and I, and we always had been. It’s just that he’d somehow ended up with the swipe card to the double-locked doors.

In this moment of realization I knew in a deep-down way that it was my human responsibility to keep crying– to keep my cheeks good and wet so that he might eventually see his own reflection in my skin. To show him what it looks like to cry from a place of fully human power… That it’s safe there… That there is nothing to be afraid of.

If you feel big feelings like I do, remember this: they are a sign of your aliveness. They are your sacred human power. And they are a gift you are meant to bring forth into the world. Use them as a light and a guide and a mirror and an open hand for those who may still be too afraid to feel it all.

Power is

Power is: Knowing that
when you’re having
“one of those days”—
(of staccato incoherence coming out of your mouth when you speak—your head a sizzling egg in a frying pan—your thoughts, man, they’re straight-up pinballs in a machine)—
it’s because you’re alive, my friend.
*Not*
because there’s anything wrong with you.

It’s because you’re breathing
all that you are into the world,
your fingertips on fire like you never
knew possible before.

Now, what this means, is this:
when you’re lit up and so full of heartbeat,
there may be times when you forget to breathe.
When you forget
to get out for fresh air,
or eat lunch, for suddenly night’s fallen
on shoulders that are locked to your earlobes.
Hell, you may sometimes forget for hours at a stretch
that you’re human.
Because all of this ignition,
it still feels so fuckin’ new.

I’m watching these sensitive strands of energy
billow out like golden hairs from you,
out into every nook and cranny
of the world. So sensitive they are,
you are,
sensitive enough that it means
you’ll get a little frayed sometimes.
But you’re alive.
You’re fuckin’ alive and awake and tuned in
to this channel called Life
that may sometimes feel wholly dark
and foreboding…
but that you’ve now learned,
too,
is full of color.
And possibility.
And beating hearts,
your own included.

remembering what it means to be human

under the tyrannous spell of the Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex,
we’ve forgotten what it means to be human,
daily swallowing
a false ideology
in the morning
and at bedtime
with a glass of water
on a full stomach,
terrified of the visage in the mirror.

I ache as I reflect on the many ways we’ve forgotten ourselves,
forgotten that to be in this world
is to feel pain, to yearn, to hide, to ruminate, to struggle.
to cry and scream and curl up and freeze for hours,
days,
years, if left unexplored.

to be human is to fall in love with life and ponder death,
to burst forth like a flaming star
and fizzle into the darkness of despair.
to resist and defy and say no and fight back
and name “normal” the slave driver of the human spirit that it is.

to the Institution of Psychiatry, I have this to say:
you call us crazy for challenging
the false claim you’ve staked on what it means to be human,
and I’ll concede your stragey has worked quite well:
today a society cowers at your feet,
desperately waiting to be taught how to smile.

today the media, government, police, schools, and
average person on the street corner are
trapped unawares by your trickery,
believing that those of us who
call you into question are
in denial of the gravity of emotional pain.
dangerous.
menaces to society.
deadly.

the irony.

I challenge you, Psychiatry, to give us all you’ve got:
dismiss us, laugh at us, call us insulting names out of
your fifth edition of fraud.
lock our bodies up in prisons called “hospitals” and “group homes”,
our minds in prisons called “medication”,
our selfhoods in prisons called “mental illness.”

Do everything you can to try to silence us
because you can’t
and you won’t
and you know this
and it terrifies you.

you know that you’re entire existence is built on
fear-based fantasy and myth,
and that the human spirit will prevail
for it’s the one thing you can’t enslave.

kept up by this at night (I wonder, do you take Ambien?), each morning
you hide your insecurity behind
a white coat, puffed up chest,
and prescription pad.
you’re so good at performing that sometimes even you forget
that it’s just
one
big
elaborate
production
on a set of smoke and mirrors.

we all know that one day
you’ll be buried in the darkest annals of human history,
alongside other dehumanizing institutions of social control and annhilation
that came before you.
And already we feel the stirrings of a world
beginning to awaken from your decimating spell,
and remember once again
what it means
to be human.

It’s happening, Psychiatry,
and it’s for your own good.

Mulberry Tree, by Vincent van Gogh

Mulberry Tree, by Vincent van Gogh

 

Cobblestones

These cobblestones once carried meIMG_20150401_181309
lost and terrified
to meet
the 73 to Belmont and
the Hospital on the Hill.

They once carried me
drunk or high or medicated,
“manic” or “depressed”,
or all of it at once.
At dusk and 2AM
and sunrise after sleepless nights,
when I’d sit with
runaways in the pit
and chain smoke butts,
wondering when
I’d finally die.

These cobblestones now carry me
whole and alive and human,
like I always was
but simply couldn’t see,
with that lens of
Psychiatry once
smothering my eyes,
my spirit.

It’s good to be back here
on these cobblestones,
on this soon-to-be-spring night.