Poems of depression, despair and a little bit of hope

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


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.


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.


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
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.


I watch my mirror
sideways on.
A slant of something 
moves with me.

Trinkets for hair
hang on the
wooden frame,

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?


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.