Category Archives: Poetry

To Sylvia

i last read you
long ago, when
i was lost.

then, you spoke to me through pain,
yours and mine in excruciating symbiosis,
and i felt known
for the first time.

i remember all those late nights in harvard square:
cigarettes, coffee cups, black fountain pens and
your poetry—fueled by you, i used my
suffering as cement and
words as bricks to
build my darkness out on paper;
those attempts at construction
offered fruitful if fleeting respites
from my then-reality, and
for this, i thank you.

today, i met
you in eternal rest; you were
surrounded by stone and grass and
the flowers of a thousand strangers
who feel they know you through your words.
pens sprouted from your grave,
grateful sacrifices of those who’ve
loved you in a way, perhaps, you
never could yourself.

i am told that behind this graveyard and
across the sweeping field of green beyond
sits the house in which you honeymooned.
i picture you young, in love and in pain,
fingers softly tracing blades of tall grass as
you walk and think and the war in you rages on,
the sun and the weight of the world
on your shoulders.

i am different now from those harvard square nights,
your early end no longer what i seek.
if only you could’ve known
you weren’t broken,
as i’ve been lucky enough to discover.

if only you could’ve seen through
the stories those doctors fed us as they turned
our bodies into psychoactive wastelands
plastered to plastic mattresses,
sucked dry of spirit,
psychiatrized.

both of us paced the locked wards
of the hallowed Hospital on the Hill,
our incarcerated madness separated only by time,
our wearied souls patient prisoners
on those same sterile halls of
broken brains and forgotten dreams.

you died at thirty-one, my age now.

i’m found today, have found myself,
though not a ‘self’ distinct or definable.
perhaps a better way to put it is that
i’ve melted into the world.

death no longer beckons me
with its promise of forever sleep,
and not because i’m free from
suffering or struggle— (this is far from true)—but because
i’ve remembered
i am human.

i can’t pretend to know you,
nor would i be so presumptuous
as Psychiatry was with us; thus, i can only wonder
what part those white-coated strangers
played in calling forth
your death with their
electroshock
and
insulin-shock
and
pill bottles
and
life-long sentence of subhuman.
with all of this, their so-called “care”, done to you.

i can only wonder
what part those white-coated strangers
played in calling forth
your death
because they introduced me to
a life not worth living,
one with death as the only logical solution.
whether by serendipity or something else,
i made it back to the world alive, and
here i am in hebden bridge
on the twenty-ninth of june
in the thirty-first year of my life.
here I am before your grave,
the sun on my shoulders.

IMG_20140629_162807730

Ode #4

Our human mirror is smudged by your false promises,
your stories sold to us in bright, shiny bottles and
neat, crisp labels pulled from
your Bible of Dehumanization.

You’ve covered our glass with a thick coat of deception,
your intoxicating fumes distorting what we look like,
what we think it means to be human.

Beneath this dense coat of your greed,
(for your pockets are lined with the exploited tears and fears and unchecked joys of those of us who feel and think too much for your liking),
our patient, human Truth awaits us, a nation of patients.

To struggle, to suffer, to yearn, to seek: this is the Truth of why we’re human.

Psychiatry, I have scraped you from my mirror, and
I have wiped the glass clean to see a stranger looking back,
this human being I’m only now beginning to know, to love, to trust.

I have peacefully buried your remains in an
ever-growing graveyard of labels and pills, for
I must tell you, Psychiatry, that
I am
but one of many
who’ve wiped the mirror clean of you
to see a new face looking back,
beautiful and human and free.

On the Subway (Life After Psychiatry)

Life after Psychiatry:

I feel the music;
the rumble of metal on metal;
the energy of fifty strangers
breathing, sneezing, sniffling, humming, living,
brothers and sisters recognized for the first time;
this heart in my chest, my heart, pumping life.

There’s a depth of sense unavailable to the pharmaceuticalized body—
only in liberated hindsight do I know this to be true.
Never could I know this while mired in
that numb, cold wasteland seeping out from a thousand orange pill bottles,
a wasteland once so familiar
that I was sure it was home.

Home, today, is this subway car,
these strangers,
the air in my lungs,
my body’s verve, pulsating, alive.

Home, today, is everywhere, now that I’m free.

A Remembered Truth

over the span of thirteen years
you altered my sacred chemistry,
slicing off my budding adolescence
and throwing it to a pack of
ravenous beasts.

you warped my body
so that it no longer knew
how to listen to itself,
and my sexuality: you turned her into
nothing but a lonely ghost of the
fourteen-year old girl
you swallowed whole.

you turned my brain into a
wasteland of toxins,
a pharmaceutical sewer
for you to bathe in daily.

of the countless possessions you took from me,
there’s one I haven’t yet reclaimed,
and perhaps never will:
Memory,
which you spooned into
your greedy mouth
with the caps of a thousand pill bottles,
devouring it whole,
smacking your lips,
satisfied with just another human treat.

yes, my life’s scrapbook
of moments lived,
however dark and twisted
many may have been,
you took from me,
burning its pages to keep you warm.

pill hustler,
preacher of false promises,
creature of greed,
you took from my mind
years of life lived.

I have forgiven you this
because I choose not to be
your emotional slave,
and I have forgiven you this
because of all the memories lost to you,
one was too strong to stay in your stomach,
and returned itself to me
on a warm spring day only a few years ago,
when it whispered gently in my ear,
“You are a human being.”

and because of this remembered Truth,
I have pulled myself from your sewers
and am free today to build a lifetime
of new remembrances that
you will never again feast on.