Poems of depression, despair and a little bit of hope 1. Autumn 2. Believe me 3. Candle 4. How are you? 5. The letter 6. Creatures within 7. No one 8. Psychiatry – a fairy story 9. Watchful waiting 10. Depression sucks 11. Futility 12. Spots and depression 13. Pharmaceutical Pick ‘n’ Mix 14. Giving up 15. Sad music 16. Mirror 17. The layered river 18. Timetable 19. Unnatural causes Autumn The equinox has felled me again. It always does, more or less I don’t suit the autumn months Bewitched pumpkins taking me nowhere good. I would like to love these days of mist, of swaying light, of flames and cold and darkness, of a silent path to despair. They are full of promise. But what do they promise me? A dark kiss and empty air. Believe me Why do you not believe my morbid thoughts when I share them with you? You answer kindly, carefully, and say - when you are better you will not think like that All your dark rages are a mirage soured by depression. I’m not so sure, I think, words curdling in my hampered mind. But even if you’re right then this is what I’m thinking now and now is forever for now. It’s no good to me to know that when I’m well you won’t have poisoned me if now I have my doubts. I mean of course you didn’t I made quite sure of that so we would not talk of it. I am disbelieved, half a person that no one will listen to. But what if I am right? Or just not wrong? What if, out there and in here, things are not that good? Happiness is likely a delusion I’d say. Candle You are a psychiatrist. You didn’t think I knew, did you? You know lots and you know nothing. I know my mind wavers like a candle sputtering one way or the other. I know when the wind calms my flame stands true and still. I know what I would say to you in your trouble. I am kind, I am kind I would comfort you and tell you this will pass as it always has before. And you would stare at me, puzzled, wonder how I know what I can’t know and say nothing more. I will have failed you. And one day my candle will burn out. Will it falter and gasp, or will it go softly, at night, consumed by dark? You are a psychiatrist. It is the truth and so is this - I have no idea. How are you? How are you, you ask me. Fine, I say. Well, a bit down, really. You nod, gentle eyed. I turn away, and shout. But no-one hears me. So I shout louder. This is not depression! This is rubbish, I tell you! This is cruel and ugly Mostly ugly Sometimes it smells quite a lot It doesn’t wash and its roots grow out and it is selfish Heavingly horribly selfish. It cares nothing for dying children It cares only how they make it feel as it is everything. It cloys and rots, and strolls, clammy handed, into the doctor’s waiting room and whispers they can do nothing for you They wish you would go. They hate you. If I am depression Don’t ask how I am I might tell you. The letter I’ll write a letter He said. I know those letters They grow slowly, word by word sentence by sentence, and line the inside of someone’s computer where they linger, uncertain, for a while waiting for someone to check that anyone wrote them. They don’t go anywhere at all if going means to leave and then be read or not for several weeks. For you the weeks go fast but not for me. For me time lingers and hangs on the sticky web that binds me to each week of many minutes. I do know, you know, that I am not an emergency. But why can you not also know that I am someone trying hard not to be one. Creatures within There are creatures within my flesh and mind that will live through my death. This is the way of things in a world that is. Time urges me through this world that has no thought for me or what dwells within. The hours and minutes pass through time that is. A kind world would be different, would make mistakes that cruelty could not imagine. Here there are no thoughts or dreams There just is. No one No one wants to ask me what I think. They dread what I will say when the page is stained by knowledge, and the ink spreads wide and damp, and drunk and dark. I fear it too but live with it I have no choice. Sometimes, briefly, thoughts drift, light shines, and I forget, a little, until shocked back to the world. You won’t ask because you love me and knowing would be a death blow. You have never asked because you feel I have no right. You will never ask because you think you know me. You do, usually. And you, you cannot ask. I don’t know why. And so I ask myself. And tell myself that this may pass, that things may change. And I always listen to no one. So why stop now? Psychiatry – a fairy story Psychiatry is a tale told by psychiatrists of perfect patients in a studied world. Don’t be a real patient! Twenty mattresses and twenty feather beds cannot save you from the jagged rock that is reality. And it will hurt because you cannot get it right. Ask for help and they will say - Wait a while – to see if you get worse. Then ask again, and they will say - Why didn’t you ask us earlier like we agreed? They shake their heads in sorrow. There is a special time, a sometime, I don’t know when it is, or what it’s for. Take care what you agree to, though That’s all I’ll say. Watchful waiting Waiting is a rite of passage. It’s better when you watch it hard, in fact it’s watchful waiting! And what the hell is that? You don’t get hearful waiting, I don’t think. You might get tasteful (up the road) but then they’ll watch you pay. And just who gets to watch? Not me, I know, so is it you? And if you watch what will you see? It won’t be me as I’m not here I’m watching hard at home. I think we know that what we watch is what we just don’t know We hope that it will go away but then why don’t we say - wait for it - Hopeful waiting? Or unhopeful waiting on a bad day. Would we watch our wait so hard if there was something else to do? Waiting for what you do not know when watched by someone else who can’t know what to watch because they cannot see you is painful. And boring. So I watchfully wait for you watching me from your waiting watchpost and I wonder, sometimes, what is watching you. Depression sucks Something sucks and slithers round my toes My feet are damp and moist Your mouth clasps wetly on my skin, pulling me in. Dying of depression isn’t nice. Unlovely, graceless, not for me. Your breath blasts foully past my face, billowing darkly, dank and chill. What should I do? I am sliding through your jaws, becoming part of you, and that’s when I know I must kill you to be free of you once and for all. Futility What is the point of me? I am too old to live or bother with I have taken up too much time. I have a clock that is bored and travels backwards. Attention-seeking, I’d say, if I actually cared, but I don’t envy it. Backwards just means longer. Behind my flesh I am hopeless and unreal. From outside I look worse. I cannot bear to see what was my face with drooping mouth and little eyes that barely look at all. I have done nothing useful in my life. And I am not beautiful which excuses many things. My lips and eyes are pale and paused and what you see repels. And still I expect you to take care of me. I wish you would let me go And save yourself the trouble. Spots and depression I’d like some spots instead of depression maybe an itch or a pain. None of these things are nice, I know, but I could show them to you Whip off my clothes and say look! Look here! Look what’s happened to me. And you would rub some cream on it, gently, whispering softly in my ear. My spots are of the mind The itch is in my thoughts and can’t be scratched I have nothing to show you but my mouth, my shouting mouth which shouts of all the things it can’t explain, and somewhere is pain. But you can’t see it, to rub it, gently, saying it will be all right. Pharmaceutical Pick ‘n’ Mix Take what you want! Choose carefully, though, as what you want may not be what is good for you and all sweets have their downsides, as you know. I’d recommend these striped ones here below. I look at them, they’re pretty, but I know those sweets of old I slip one in my pocket, though, as stealing makes me bold. He gestures to some others, and I toss my head and whine - I don’t like those at all, you know, however bright they shine They take away all lust and love and any urge to sin And when I had them in the past I threw them in the bin. His brows rise to his hair, and then he looks at me and glares. My dear, this is a sweetshop, not a place to sell your wares. I step back quickly, chastened, as more customers come by, then spot some shiny sweets up on a shelf just by the sky. You’re looking far too high, he says, those ones are not for you. The price is out your league. I raise my eyebrows, Is this true? He shudders, says - I cannot sell them, leastways not to you. Now try these lovely ones right here, their gains will soon accrue. He’s right, of course, I know them well, I know their dark allure. Sorrow still needs sentience, though, not bashing on the head These honeyed friends will take the pain, but leave me stuck in bed. These sweets all make me sick, I moan, do you have nothing else? A sweet less sweet, less sugared and less sour? He looks around surprised while closing blinds and shuts the door. You came into a sweet shop – there are sweets and nothing more. Giving up One thing is certain I won’t give up until I’ve given up. Which might well sound absurd but you have to do something while you’re waiting to take your mind off what you’re waiting for. However tenderly you wait, whatever time brings. I eat my dinner still, gaze blankly at a screen that stares at me. My hair hangs straight and lankly in my eyes, I don’t forget to wash and wear my clothes, the same ones every day. And I speak with a voice that is soft and sweet, and sound like a person who is not something else entirely, which lately I have become. It is not my way to be noticed as one who waits. I know you cannot ask what I am waiting for. But I am tired of waiting and afraid of stopping. Sad music Why do I listen to sad music? Of course - it is to make me sad because sadness is bearable, and you are not bearable you thing without reason. Your very horror lies in your pointlessness. I cannot mourn regret weep for what I have lost for I have lost nothing. So I listen to sad music and hope that I will join with sorrows past and future, with those that will never happen to me. And I hope, too, that someone else’s song that is not sad will bind the pieces of me. Mirror I watch my mirror sideways on. A slant of something moves with me. Trinkets for hair hang on the wooden frame, unchanged. But I am afraid of my mirror. I am afraid to look straight in case I see a corpse look back. Or worse, I don’t. The layered river I dreamt of a river in layers many years ago before I knew there were none or not like this. The river of my nights flowed gently. Each layer was soft, patterned, beautiful, separated by lines. I sat in a boat, watching. I fell from the side into the marbled water and drifted quietly from layer to layer, deeper and deeper, turning slowly in the darkest water. It is not beautiful to drown It is ugly and painful I know that. But I think of smooth stones and slow layers through which to fall and I wonder Would it be so bad? Timetable When should I no longer brush my teeth? When is washing just a waste of time? The timetable to despair comes with few instructions and what there are seem complicated. I will wash and dress and scrape the plaque right up until the end, I think. The effort may be slower and less lovely but not doing so would give myself away A shout of - look at me! I don’t want anyone to look too close Not driver, not ticket collector nor fellow travellers, who may be on another road to me if they are lucky. So I will brush my teeth and hair, just not as often as before, perhaps, but enough that I can go unseen to the platform, where no one will notice that I have no ticket. Unnatural causes I want to die of natural causes An old, old woman in a hospital bed clutching the hand of a young girl who knows it will never happen to her, dreaming of a life she’s barely lived. I don’t care what I die of then, which organ tosses off its function first. Kidneys, liver, heart, brain It’s all the same to me It is proof that I made it. I haven’t got there yet, and still I dream of unnatural causes. Sometimes they disappear for years, fly to southern, warmer lands But they return, always, grasping at my bed post and stare at me.