Categories
Depression Prose

The Day Bruce Springsteen Saved My Life by Francesca Moroney

On a Tuesday morning in the middle of January, I sob loudly inside my car, parked in the school lot. Frost covers the windows. Behind me, the baby sleeps in her car seat, head slung low on her chest. I am four months postpartum with my fourth child, and my body feels like lead, struggling even to turn the key in the ignition. Around me, busy parents enter their cars, alone, and I envy them—all of their children safe in the care of others. Cars exit the lot, turn signals blinking in the brittle light, but I can’t move. It’s not the crying that keeps me inert, but this pressure below my sternum, a lump that feels like a large, hungry animal flung against my chest, plus a feeling that everything I’ve ever loved is waving goodbye from behind a thick, soundproof pane of glass. There is nothing in my life that does not exhaust me. I do not know how I will get home. I fear I will petrify and my other children will find their sister at the end of the day covered in tears and urine, or that I have forgotten how to drive, how to yield at intersections and pull over for emergency vehicles. I know I must not stop atop the railroad tracks, but I worry I might ignore that knowledge when the time comes. I am still crying and the baby still sleeps when I hear Bruce Springsteen sing, You’ve been hurt and you’re all cried out. Suddenly, I feel somehow less original—relieved by the presence of someone else’s pain and depression inside my head. If the achy, angsty voice from within my speakers can make his own unbearableness sublime, surely it can make mine bearable. The lyric escapes my lips quietly, like a secret, or a prayer—after all, I am not so far gone as to have forgotten how vital it is to not wake a sleeping baby. My hands are cold on my hot cheeks when I wipe away my tears, and I hope I will remember to warm them before lifting my daughter from her seat and carrying her inside. I put the car into gear and check my blind spots before pulling away, trusting in Bruce when he promises a thin white line of love, alive at the edge of the dim highway, a beacon I might follow, a way to survive, at least, the drive home.

Francesca Moroney is a mother, writer, teacher, and reader, living and working with her five teenagers and three large dogs in southwestern Illinois. She has been published in the Journal of Light and DarkAesthetica Magazine, and fws journal of literature and art. Her prose poem, “The Jane Collective,” was a semi-finalist in the 2019 Stories That Need to Be Told Contest of Tulip Tree Publishing. 

Categories
Depression Poetry

While I’m Battling Depression, I Read of a Man Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy by Timi Sanni

I do not sleep tonight, my eyes choose the certainty of light / stare up at the ceiling and write poems in the air as the night brews and boils outside, then again as the night calms in the anticipation of dawn. The world stops revolving & I’m stuck in this cocoon, so I constrict my lungs with the need to breathe / again / to rejuvenate the wilting flowers in the heart of my being. The internet carries my mind into the horror of a man who now wears a necklace of thorns. I do not want to imagine these thorns as skeletal hands squeezing the breath out of a man, bathing him in his life blood, because can one know what it means to die / to be dead & still look it in the face, unflinching? I know so much about sins because their claws have made a map of scars around my head, but death is an alien bringing extraterrestrial fears into this alliance of bodies. My depression is a mirror & blasphemy is a mountain. But repentance is thunder breaking rocks into powder. I imagine myself in the body of the judge / in the mind of the convicted / in the breath of a bystander and find peace in the remembrance of God and the hereafter’s promise of justice because life is built along the road of death / & death is a crossroad to glory or another death.

Timi Sanni is a Nigerian writer and literary enthusiast studying Biochemistry at Lagos State University, Nigeria. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Radical Art Review, Writers Space Africa, Ethel Zine, Cypress: A Literary Journal, Rather Quiet and elsewhere. He recently won the SprinNG Poetry Contest 2020 and is the recipient of the Fitrah Review Prize for Fiction 2020. When not writing or studying, he is either painting or exploring new places. He is an editor for Kalopsia lit. Find him on twitter: @timisanni

Categories
Poetry Trauma

Two Poems by Isabel Wallace

“there was tickweed where I fell”

five exits down, on the shoulder of the highway
golden yellow scratches against epicardium
and loss finally rings bright against loss,
bladelike, (thin as coreopsis, her favorite flower,)
sharp as the intent that smithed it with bleeding hands.
and there’s a vow in the sound it makes:
it says, “I’ve been here before and will come again;”
it says, “I’ll climb;”
it says, “these roads I line came after me;
I was the first guide;”
it says, “I am a life held between trembling fingertips,
and a weapon both;”
it says, “in either shape, I am a stage of grief.’
knees buckle in roadside soil, the door alarm clicks and
it says to me, “you ran very far, but I grow
everywhere you can go.”

“you shaped me for sacrifice”

I exist in three places. In the first, I’m nine and digging a little grave for the first rattlesnake I killed. I bury it in two parts: body and shovel-separated head. I hate myself, but the dog doesn’t die. In the second, I’m four and being dragged past the rabbit hutch. There’s one less. I can’t count them but I know, I know, I know that there will be rabbit blood on blue sheets. In the third, I’m twenty-four, sitting on a park bench, and thinking about being nine and being four. I’m thinking about how I was taught to buy protection with pieces of me. If I lied about the abuse, he wouldn’t kill a rabbit. If I swallowed any feeling for the rattlesnake, I could protect the dog. They said the rattlesnake cost less, but it wasn’t the rattlesnake’s fault (wasn’t mine—). Saving the rabbits cost all of me, but I never shook the conditioning (“you’re saving them, a little hero”). I was a price. I was a price and I paid my price. I paid it without understanding the worth, the lie.

Grass and gravel crunch beneath my shoes. I’m twenty-four and saying, “No surprise I’m fucking broke.”

Isabel J Wallace is a queer writer and registered nurse working in North Florida. The swamp has left her predisposed towards ghost stories and the certainty that something is always lurking just out of sight. She’s been published in Malaise: a Horror Anthology, as well as in Smitten: this is what love looks like. Wallace has upcoming publications with Stone of Madness Press and Passengers Journal.

Categories
Mania Poetry

When I Wash the Dishes by Lindsey Heatherly

I realize the tides in my brain are shifting
once I’m singing along to my phone
and running the sponge in sudsy circles
inside and around the lip
of the next to the last dirty bowl
that rests atop the kitchen counter

I recognize a calm heart and peaceful breaths
and wonder if my mania is muted
less severe
than the patients seeking care
at the place I am employed

For when I find myself cleaning the kitchen
washing the messes
righting the wrongs
wringing the sadness

for a moment
I find myself happy

Lindsey is a writer born and raised in Upstate South Carolina. She has words in Emerge Literary Journal, X-R-A-Y, Emrys Journal, Red Fez, Schuylkill Valley Journal and more. She spends her time at home raising a strong, confident daughter. Find her on her website at https://r3dwillow.wixsite.com/rydanmardsey or on Twitter: @rydanmardsey.

Categories
Poetry Trauma

smile baby, smile by Shelby Bevins-Sullivan

[TRIGGER WARNING, SEXUAL ASSAULT]

forgive me--
     i don't mean to disturb you,
the thunder in my head rattles every night,


your eyes, a somber shade of lapis,
whimper, isn't my love enough?
       and it is, it is, it's always enough--


i just forget that when a hand
       lands firmly on my shoulder,
it's your pink, plump, sugared lips


awaiting our wake-up kiss,
               not the thin grin of a breathing gargoyle,
               the one that clawed my breasts,
               tore my labia til they bled. 


being still helps me get through the hours,
                 you say, they all say:
                 smile, baby, smile,
                 smilebabysmile,
                 ssss mmmm iiii llll eeee


but smiling is what got me 
hurt in the first place. 

Shelby Bevins-Sullivan is an attorney. She has published work in And So Yeah MagazineThe Harpoon ReviewThe Blue Hour, and other places. Her poems are largely confessional, focusing on sexual trauma, the denial of justice, religious hypocrisy, and their interconnectedness. 

Categories
OCD Poetry

Everything Becomes Blinding by Coleman Bomar

A string
Between three falling
Anchors
Is the day unmedicated.

Hours tick deeper
Ticking into night’s submergence of stars
Becoming a plastic bag
Around my child head
An utter terror of
Tomorrow’s triggered
Sky fall: cement
The busy blood
The clock of walking people
Walking too fast.

I flip the light switch
Eleven times before bed
Every night or else.

Coleman Bomar is a writer  who currently resides in Middle Tennessee. His works have been featured by and/or are forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys, Plum Tree Tavern, Prometheus Dreaming, SOFTBLOW, Eunoia Review, Beyond Words, Bewildering Stories, Isacoustic, Moonpark Review, Maudlin House, Star 82 Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Cathexis Northwest, Nine Muses Poetry and more. 

Categories
Anxiety Poetry

everything is fragile except this anxiety by Samantha Duncan

that opens me from the top
by the language’s body, where

the blood eclipse we don’t talk about
is calendar-event beautiful
(woman hood or hooded woman),

preceding the labor of being read
as bodily and I am everyone’s garden,

using the heart reaction
for a petrifying romance
between feet and ground and hum.

love me because you don’t have to
and extract the patterns, I’ll make

capsules to ingest twice weekly.
take my crescent cycles
to the supermarket with the coupons.

discount my flying spells or
wait until I’ve boiled and cooled

and crafted the earth to stretch
for us and us-plus and really just me
being able to breathe.

you can love me, you don’t have to,
you can close me from the end.

Samantha Duncan is the author of four poetry chapbooks, including Playing One on TV (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2018) and The Birth Creatures (Agape Editions, 2016), and her work has recently appeared in BOAAT, SWWIM, Kissing Dynamite, Meridian, and The Pinch. She is an Assistant Editor for Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and lives in Houston.  

Categories
Autism Prose

Joyful Noise by Basil Wright

Boredom is standing in a line outside of an event hall. You and your sibling have planned this outing weeks in advance. The actual event itself will be memorable, even though you know every sound after it will feel like pins and needles on your brain, even though when you exit the building, the sun will be too bright for your sensitive eyes, and even though you’ll need to construct a blanket cocoon and nestle yourself into the heart of its warmth, you know it will have been worth it. “No one’s getting in here.” You will mutter happily to yourself, reciting a cartoon as well-worn and loved as the blankets that surround you.

All of those events are tasks set before your future self. Right now, you are bored. And when you are bored, you cluck. You cluck once, low and soft, testing the mood of the crowd around you. No complaints. You cluck again, louder and with more confidence. As you cluck, your brain sets off joyous sparks of light and color, pushing back the boredom and allowing you to focus better on your surroundings. Your sibling looks at you and you smile encouragingly at them. They’re not as much of a fan of making chicken noises as you are, but when you start to clap they join in, keeping you on time to the music you’ve constructed in your mind. Your sibling shimmies as you jerk your limbs into odd contortions, your soul glowing orange as you clap and cluck.

Others in line stare at your strange behavior, but your focus is captured by the notes whirling within your mind, crafting your bird call piece by piece. Life is simply too short to concern yourself with whether or not being a dancing chicken is appropriate behavior while standing in line.

Farther ahead, a woman turns around to see what the noise is about and your eyes meet. You mimic your sibling’s shimmy and continue clapping. You can see the bright glow fill her eyes as she begins clapping as well, bopping her head along to the beat.

To your delight, a few others join you in your clucking: a cacophonous choir of chickens, cheeping and chirping to the same shared song. You take turns clucking back and forth with the man ahead of you, before he succumbs to a fit of giggles. “This is so weird.” He admits, but continues with his bird song.

When at last the doors to the event hall open, an employee pokes their head out to look at the crowd. “Was it just me, or did I hear a bunch of clapping…and clucking?”

Your sibling looks at you with a good-natured smile and gives one last shimmy.

You throw back your head and belt forth a rooster’s cry of affirmation.

Basil Wright is a Black and Indigenous autistic queer writer that lives in Florida with their sibling. Their work has appeared in Perhappened Mag, The Daily Drunk Mag, and Disability Madison’s Black and Disabled Virtual Showcase.

Categories
ADHD Poetry

Attention Deficit by Gianni Gaudino


The amount of money saved. Scrawling everywhere. Green red, red green. A loose evening, becomes looser, restlessly restless. In the dream, you’re running. No, in the dream, you’re sitting. The river on your lap. A tortoise is hunted by a rabbit. How many ways can you look without looking? How often can you count, then backwards? Hypochondriac or cursed curious? You’ve sewn a moon into a blanket. It’s never finished. You give it cheeks, a clown nose. You, class clown, sit in the principal’s office. He tells you to stop touching his paper clips, the leather chair. You ask Do you need your bicycle tuned up? Principal slams his desk, stands to look out his window. In the sky, a cloud shaped like a rabbit drops to the ground. The principal asks When you grow up, what do you want to be? Outside, the cloud’s breath steams the window. Put down my stapler, my rubber bands. Are they yours to touch? Can’t you just sit there? Can you do that, huh? Sit there and just listen?

Gianni Gaudino teaches 8th grade English and Language Arts in the School District of Philadelphia. When he was 6, Gianni was diagnosed with ADHD and a minor form of Tourette’s Syndrome. He has poems in ProLit MagazineYes, PoetryMuzzle Magazine, and a few others. He lives in Philadelphia.  

Categories
Insomnia Poetry

Daydreaming by the Window at Dusk by Dawn Watts

The better part of the day spent
feeling the weight of an unknown
gloom & doom shadow looming
Around my sleepless body.

It is an illusion, at best;
at worst, just another taste
of the abyss I sink into,
from time to time, just for

the rush of indifference.
There are better ways
to watch the sun chase
the moon across the sky;

however, I have not the inclination
nor the drive to spread the path
with my footsteps mislaid
on a chaotic destination.

My memory is lapsing.
This is not for the hunger
of a new dawn to come
beckoning my undoing.

Dawn Watts is a former barista from Chester Pa. She writes poetry which will be in several online publications.