Tag Archives: mental health

Lost and Found and Lost Again

Poetry like
a fierce violin or
a gunshot and then silence.

Poetry like
an atomic bomb
inside of the skull
-blinding,
incinerating.

Poetry that
like a night river
takes you with it
wherever it may go.

Poetry that
after you let it in
never leaves.

Poetry
that will make you abandon God
leave your wife and kids at the airport
steal.

Poetry that will make you
rich
with madness.

Where is it?
Where is it?

It’s definitely not in this salad.

It’s not down the fire escape or
under the sink.

It’s not in your flatulent rhetoric.

No, no, no…

It’s in a child’s pencil.
It’s in her laughter at the station.
It’s in the myriad shapes
of the breaking waves at dawn.
It’s in the lilies and the lawnmowers.

It’s in the way we always
fall apart after the miracle
of coming together.

It’s in the defeated posture of
a torn curbside recliner.

It’s nowhere
but everywhere.

I never tire of finding it.
I’m always looking.

Lost and found and
lost again.

Like me.

Corporate Melancholy

Oh, but to button up your salmon shade shirt
as first light suffuses the sky
to grab your leather case
to head out into the utilitarian
concrete venues
the slow murder of the freeway
the stone faces behind desks
the clerks the admins the accountants
the space between eyes like
air between walls
the cubicles lashed together
under fluorescent strips of lights.

The unsettling labyrinth of hidden voices
hitting their sales targets.

It can skew your sanity
itch at your primordial mind
that this isn’t and never
was intended to be
the way for us so long
hidden under rocks and leaves
our soul.

This isn’t really you
beneath this artificial skin
thin as paper on a desk
but the children require cellphones
and your wife a new look.

As slowly your face
moulds into that shit-eating grin while
thanking your next client
your blood wants blood
your past cannot forgive you.

You measure yourself
with false advertisements

and spend all night
locked in dreams
mocking your life.

Keep It Together

It’s a daunting task
trying to keep all the
nuts, screws and bolts
inside of your head
fastened tightly together.

Holding everything
in the right place.

All of the time.

Keeping the questionable things
inside
from spilling out
all over your friends,
your lovers,
your coffee table,
your shaggy seventies carpet.

So that you don’t end up
growing your hair long
planting a bomb
or even worse:

becoming an artist.

Monster Under The Bed

My mind goes to some shady, slippery places
while I’m brushing my teeth or
grooming the cat or
removing evidence with bleach and a paint grinder.

These thoughts
come scurrying out of the
subconscious darkness
like cockroaches on cocaine.

I become immersed and
disconnected
-an astronaut untethered.

Maybe I should switch to light mayonnaise.
Avoid traffic.
Unplug the television.
Just start over.

Maybe I should check for ghosts in the attic
skeletons in the closet
monsters under the bed.

Maybe I am the monster.

Antihero

Are you cynical?
I’m not.
Die.

Are you trying to be the hero?
I’m definitely not.
You can’t see me.

I’m just trying not to
antagonize the rabid dog at my fence or
sew my fingers together or
pop the child’s favorite balloon
with a rusty razor blade or
bring any notice whatsoever
to the protagonist
of an incredibly unimaginative story that’s
more like a prolonged senseless beating
than a beer commercial.

I look out the window and shudder.
It’s just not for me.

I blend in with the drapes.

I am the drapes.

Are You My Angel?

It was late.
It was just me and this dark-haired girl
on the platform at the subway station
and she was crying.

She kept looking over,
and I kind of felt bad
despite everything.

“Hey….hi! Are you okay? Listen, it can’t be that bad.”
She laughed without humour. “This coming from you.”
“What?” I asked, taken aback.
“I’m not crying for me.” She lifted her head up. “I’m crying for you.”
“Wait…” I said, “what do you mean?”
She handed me a slip of paper. I, almost unconsciously, slipped it into my pocket.

“Hold up,” I said. “I don’t get this. What’s…”
The train came roaring into the station. I backed away confused and instinctively moved through its doors as they opened. I didn’t understand what was going on and I didn’t like that at all. The small-statured beauty was still crying on the platform as the train left. I should have felt nothing because that’s what I was used to. But I did.

How strange life was.

At home, I pulled the gun out of the bag and placed it gently on the coffee table, threw the Ziploc bag stuffed with sleeping pills I got from Eddie beside it, then did a fat rail of cocaine that he also got me with the rest of my money.

I sat down on the torn couch and looked around my shitty apartment. I broke tonight down into three stages. Let’s start with stage two: Dose myself with the sleeping pills. All of them. Down it with vodka seven. This way it was a guaranteed back up to stage three: blow my fucking brains out. And if I chickened out then stage two was there to take care of me anyway. It all sounded like a great plan but maybe it wasn’t. I mean, I wasn’t a trained professional in these matters but really…who was?

Let’s back up to stage one, the fun stage: get fucked on blow and enjoy the last hours a worthless piece of shit like me had on this earth. Yes, I was going to go all the way up before I came all the way down, permanently. This wasn’t sad. It wasn’t. Life was sad.

I was once a wealthy businessman. I had a wife and three kids (once). A house with a nice garden that the afternoon sun struck with a luminous intensity that reminded me of my childhood. Life seemed to just give and all I did was gain. And that is what it was for a time. But in the end, we all know that it eventually becomes a process of losing –regardless of how slow or how fast– everything that we had once accomplished, everything that we once held dear.

It may be good for you now. Yes, it just might be. In fact, it may be all golden roses on a silver platter –but you just give it time because that’s all you need. That’s all. See, we all fall. We all fail. We’re all fucked. And that’s when you start to miss things that aren’t there anymore. You miss them so much that you become a ghost yourself.

I am a ghost. That coke hit me faster than usual.

I would like to say that my habits were built from heartbreak but that was only partly true. Now they were all that I had left. I was a loser junkie with a bad heart and nothing was going to get better for me. Nothing. I guess I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was or maybe it was just age. Didn’t matter. It was time to get off the train.

But the girl…why? Why care? I didn’t get it, and it rapidly started to gnaw at me. I took the slip of paper out and looked at the several digits and dashes. A phone number. What the shit? Okay…

I was so unnerved by the situation at the time –knocked out of my determination for my own death and the timetable that I had constructed around it– that it completely took me off guard. I was always like that though to some extent: lost, wandering in thought and not really paying any attention to what was going on around me, like every time I went the grocery store.

“Fuck,” I said and took the gun and the pills and tossed them under the sink. Took my phone out and called the number half-expecting a hotline. But it was the girl, tears in her voice.

“Hello?”
“You don’t have to cry anymore,” I said.
The girl laughed in a really sad, relieved way. “I’m Mary.”
“Alex.” I returned, wondering who the, what the, how the fuck.

I guess some things were worth finding out. Really, what the Hell was I doing anyway? I guess that life can surprise you, even when you think that it was already over.

“Are you my angel?” I asked as I eyed the bag of coke.

How strange life was.

Billy’s Laura

Raining hard at the
mouth of the trail
where Shane was
waiting for his ex-wife
umbrella in hand.

“Nice day out. Isn’t it, Laura?”

Laura smiled, “Yes it is, Hon.”

She was already drunk
as usual.

Shane held out his umbrella
and walked holding it over her
letting himself get wet
until they reached Billy’s house.

No lights.
Billy wasn’t up yet.

“I’m sure Billy will be up soon.” He said.

Sometimes it was hours
before Billy got up
and Shane would hold his umbrella
over her as she lay her head in
his lap and slept.

“You still love me, Shane.”
She would say,
“You wouldn’t do this
if you didn’t love me.”

And when it was cold
Shane would put his warm jacket
over her
with nothing for himself
as they both waited until…

“Light’s on, Laura, Billy’s up.”

Billy would open the front door
without looking out and just
leave it open but
only when he had a fix ready for her.

Once Laura was inside
Shane would then go on
down the road to
Tim’s house to
drink himself to sleep.

Tim would see Shane
all wet and cold
and will give him shit
for the same old shit.

They used to be the
toughest around
in town back when it mattered
until there came along
fights that couldn’t be won
like plants shutting down
unpaid debts
miscarriages
divorce
and then there came the bottle
and other things that were worse.

“She’s Billy’s Laura now, Shane, Billy’s Laura!”

“You don’t understand, Tim.”

“I understand that you can’t let go.
That you’re killing yourself
just like she is and
I just can’t
watch it anymore.”

“Come on now, Tim.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Shane. It really wasn’t…”
Tim’s eyes were red, wet and he
slammed the door.

Shane grabbed his coat and
umbrella and headed back.

Maybe Tim finally had the
last of this
but for Shane it was
just another day to get through.

Just another day.

Little Wonder

I was diagnosed with
an illness that
they didn’t catch in time.

Doctor told me that I could be
in pain for months
perhaps years
and could face
permanent hearing loss
in my left ear.

It was at times
debilitating.

The vertigo and tinnitus
were Hell.
Days became Hell.
Life became Hell.

Even after
several months
I wasn’t getting better
and nobody was sure
if I ever would.

It wore me down
eventually.

I was just reaching
middle age and
had never felt
so vulnerable.

I sat downtown on a bench
feeling sorry for myself
when I heard,

“GET OUT OF MY COUNTRY!
TAKE YOUR VIRUS BACK TO CHINA!”

Three teenaged boys
harassing
an Asian woman and
her daughter.

They were right in their face.
The woman and child
were scared.
Nobody was helping them.

Before I knew it
I was across the square.

I grabbed the biggest one and
social-distanced him
right into the
central square fountain.

The other two turned
on me but I
shoved them down
hard
and they scattered.

I was sick
but I wasn’t weak.

“They’re Korean,
you Shitheads!”
I called after them.

All the excitement
made me dizzy.
I was unwell.
I shouldn’t be doing
things like that
and so I staggered
back to my bench
rubbed my temples and
closed my eyes.

I felt a sudden
warmth on the side
of my head
a flash of heat
and the pain
the dizziness
-the nausea that I had
suffered for months
were all suddenly gone.

I opened my eyes
to find the
young Asian girl
staring back at me
as she took her hand away
from my ear.

Her large beautiful
almond eyes
were filled with compassion
and such sadness
that I have never before
seen in a child.

I knew in that moment
that my sickness was gone
for good and that
she had taken it away.

The girl smiled.

She put a finger to her lips.
“Shhhh!” She said then
turned and
ran back to her mother.

I watched them
turn the corner and
disappear.

Afterwards,
I put my head
in my hands and I wept
because I didn’t
know what else to do.

Then I got up and I started to
walk straight
for the first time
in months…

then I started to run
and laugh.

“Don’t Worry, Albert.”

Took care of my wife
for ten years
as cancer slowly
took her away
from me.

“Don’t worry, Albert.
It always rains
on a sunny day,
doesn’t it?”

She’d always say.

Two years alone
after she passed
I moved far away
to start again.

It was either that
or put a gun
to my head.

But everywhere I looked
I still saw
a reminder of her
in every woman
in every child.

I worked
then I wandered the streets.
Trying to live.
Trying to cry.
Trying to die.

And one day
I saw her
leaving a laundromat,
laughing.

It was her
but it wasn’t
because it
couldn’t be

but there she was.

I walked up to her
and stared
like an idiot.

Asked if I could
walk with her.

She looked at me
strange.
I didn’t blame her
but she acquiesced.

That was when
on a blue sky
it opened up
with rain singing across
all the streets
in the sunlight.

She laughed and she
looked at me with that
gorgeous smile
that always
broke through me
like I was air
then she took my hand.

“Don’t worry, Albert.”
she said.

“It always rains
on a sunny day
doesn’t it?”