Categories
Depression Poetry

The Cleansing Method by Agbiri-onwu Chinwendu

Close your eyes
Hold your breath
Count your numbers
And when you feel you can’t any longer
I want you to think about your therapy sessions
Remember the woman in White
Who
Like everyone
figured she understood you
Remember the words she used to describe you:
Broken
Lonely
Unhappy
Dark
Now let go
Catch your breath
Exhale all these meaningless adjectives
Say “I am tired”
But breathe and live
Because No one
I repeat
No one
Can take that from you.

20200426_165728
Agbiri-onwu Chinwendu is a student-physiotherapist and a varsity footballer at a Nigerian University. She spends most of her time updating her playlist, idolizing Celine Dion and wondering if she’ll ever graduate.
Categories
Poetry Self-Harm

Let Me Live by Adibe Nnanyelugo

Find a reason to stay
To live
Tell yourself something
Anything
“I stay because I have not seen snow
I do not want to die in this land of rain and dust”
“I stay because me leaving, would hurt the ones I love”
Or
Be stubborn like a bull
Arrogant
Full of pride
Turn the toxicity of that lowest point of depression
Into a fucking exotic weed and get high
Grab the grim reaper by his cloak,
Stare him in the eye and scream:
“I’ll stay because I can
I’ll stay because I fucking can!
And you will let me live
I
Will let me live”

Serotonin

Adibe Nnanyelugo is a Nigerian poet and freelance editor who is usually inspired during bouts of melancholy. He is many things and yet nothing, a wanderer seeking to find balance in life, and can be found on twitter @adibennanyelugo and instagram @adibe_nnanyelugo

Categories
Mania Prose

BI-TREKKIE by Leah Holbrook Sackett

I’m the roommate that she didn’t get, the girlfriend you never met. I’m the statistic in your Psych 101. The life I was supposed to have is sediment at the bottom of a poorly stored red wine. You are in perpetual motion reaching milestones, making your dreams come true. I’m in suspended animation. Phantoms of the worst me eke out to make a spectacle, but these are just shadows, haunting the girl floating in stasis. I cannot make a real move, a solid contact. I am impeded by the misconstrued silence of my former self. I am trapped. A symphony of screams echo in my head, whether I am manic or suicidal or homicidal. My suspended animation makes my hell my own. To you, I am neutralized. But it is “Kadir beneath Mo Moteh,” – failure to understand. I open my eyes. You meet my gaze. “Picard and Dathon at El-Adrel.”- successful first contact between two alien cultures. Star Trek-TNG is playing softly on the television. I can see it from the kitchen, and I know what they are saying I’ve seen it so many times before.
You came in with Kim. I was making cucumber sandwiches. I had the counter covered with 52 cucumbers. It was in honor of Rosh Shoshanna. I should be at shul, but I could not face the yentas with their well-meaning inquisitions. Where have you been? I have a nice grandson for you. I needed solitude, even on this joyous day. I was trying not to tip the scale.
“What’re you making,” you asked.
“Cucumber sandwiches.”
“For a party?” you asked.
“I’m giving most of them away. I’ll go up and down the hall and leave them outside the doors.”
“Leave them outside?”
“Yes. I don’t really like to get to know people.”
“Okay, I can take a hint.”
“Not you, I’ve, I’ve met you before through Kim.”
“So, what do sanctioned people get, if near-strangers get cucumber sandwiches?
I was my bold self. I gave him a side-long glance. A come fuck me look, despite the fact that Kim had been trying to rein him in for three weeks now. Zach knew Kim was in for a package deal. I just threw signs that meant a good time.
We were young. I was raging sex. It was never enough. You recharged to perform again, again, and again. I’d heard Kim come home, the creak of the front door, drop of the keys in the blue porcelain bowl. That didn’t make me quieter, but louder. I felt so powerful to take away what she had valued. I intended to flaunt you like a new kill. I knew you would stick around. But I was surprised when I wasn’t bored with you. That summer was like a Tornado, I couldn’t place anything in time, but episodes of sex and Star Trek – TNG. Like always, my striking mania crashed. There would not be any sandwiches of any kind. You would be concerned, that’s all you could be but perhaps frightened. What had changed, you wondered? How could you help? You realized you knew nothing about my illness. You sick son of a bitch were drawn deeper into me than before. You seemed all kinds of wrong to me. You were the day, and I was the night. Your surrender was a whirlpool of what you confused to be depth. My horror was in lights at the carnival. I longed to drown in the barrel of bobbing apples. I could not get a bite of knowledge. You held on tight to my hair so I could not drown. I resented you, but I hated me.
I was the roommate that she didn’t get; the girlfriend you started to wish you never met. I was the forgotten statistic in last semester’s Psych 101. The life I was supposed to have was sediment at the bottom of another poorly stored red wine. You were in perpetual motion reaching for unattainable milestones, chasing dreams. I was in suspended animation. Phantoms of the worst me eked out to make a spectacle, but these were just shadows, haunting the girl floating in stasis. I cannot make a real move, a solid contact. I am impeded by the misconstrued silence of my former self. I am trapped. A symphony of screams echo in my head, whether I am manic or suicidal or homicidal. My suspended animation binds me to my own hell. To you, I am neutralized. ” Shaka, when the walls fell,”- failure. I close my eyes. “Darmok on the ocean.”I am isolated, alone.

3

Leah Holbrook Sackett is an adjunct lecturer in the English department at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, where she also earned her M.F.A. Leah’s stories explore journeys toward autonomy and the boundaries placed on the individual by society, family, and self. Learn about her published fiction at LeahHolbrookSackett.com

Categories
Poetry Trauma

2 Poems by Joshua Morley

The Warm Spandex of Wonder

Before picking your words like peanuts between chopsticks because you worry

that you can never clear the fog, crack the shell that has immured your mind,

your words interned within a ribcage of twine. Before you ever needed to hand 

a shrink your peanuts because they were the offspring of your heart’s kiln and 

before there could be a dying fire, vacillating fire, convolving fire, a vortex, no fire,

held in the cells of your seeds and laid bare by suave attentive shoveling. Deft,

snoopy, unnerving. An inculcated effortlessness in your therapist’s facility, their

muscles of facial expression loyal to the truth of their mechanical motility. Call it

operant conditioning, muscle memory. Call them skilled. Call when you need them.

Before burning life into your nerves void of sensitivity. Before breaking your own

heart to feel something. Before the steps of fibrous tissue on your arms weaved a path

that kissed the first gates of heaven, remembered the metallic tango of blade and blood,

remember the transcendence of your mother’s scream into ultrasonic inaudibility

as you watched her and your soul stretched out to her from an elastic leash bound

around your brainstem and produced through your eye socket. Before you blacked out

even. Before your dark-cloud age. And before you started looking in on the outside

Before you learned to lie that you fell and be believed. Before all these, there was a boy

who loved the stars, unbothered, crooned uncalculated songs and delved into the world

with a transparent polythene bag of wonder hugging his eyes like spandex. He was warm.

 

the half-life of a fast-acting love potion

you fell in love with a boy

       who came alive only at night

        too much of your pills

                               & the receptors amass 

disdain for your panacea,

                temporary

                           the only constant thing

that is not to say //       too much

         wouldn’t kill you // would kill you

                         wouldn’t kill you //           you really don’t know

how to love the same

       person // everyday

                 too much // would kill you // wouldn’t kill you

your boy put all of his love in a bottle

          &         only sees you when he drinks

&         his eyes—

he // & you withdraw // to repress

       your tolerance to love

you fell in love with the boy

who only came online at night

IMG_1751

Joshua Morley, 18, is a Nigerian writer, artist, and undergrad student at the University of Ibadan whose works explore mental illness, identity and queerness. When not observing the motions of things with personal abilities of clairvoyance, Morley can be found making music or visual art. Or sleeping.

Categories
Poetry Self-Harm

I’m scared of fading and Dance as Therapy by Johap Agbo

1.

 

When the inevitable happens

When my mortality fades into nothingness

I always wonder if the evidence of my crime will be found

Will I be declared missing?

How long will everyone look for me before they forget

 

How long does it take to forget someone existed

How long would it take to find the body

Does the memory fade away like mortality

Does it stay like the weight in my chest?

 

2.

 

Shake like a bough of willow trees, you do it naturally… – Hozier

 

I’m dancing at 4am to songs you wouldn’t have been able to stand

My body involuntarily moving to beats

I arch my back, throw my hands in the air and I dance.

Here, I am Beyonce.

My body is fluid, moving in ways I didn’t think were possible.

 

This is how we survive

By dancing

 

I once learnt that some plants stretch and stretch till they find light. They would naturally bend towards the direction of light to survive.

That’s what dancing does to me.

 

I’m bending my body towards light

I’m bending my body towards joy

In whatever direction that is, this body will move.

 

So when I throw my hands in the air and let the music guide me, I hope it guides me towards joy. I hope the music leads me towards light and it always does.

It always does.

 

This is how we survive 

By dancing

IMG-20200311-WA0015

Johap Agbo (she/her), 19, is an igbo girl from Nigeria. She’s currently a law student based in Nigeria and writes as a form of self expression. She can be found on Twitter @johapisgrowing_

Categories
Poetry Trauma

The Body Is a House to Scars by Idowu Odeyemi

Salah and I escaped the blast that ate our mother

And turned our father to the offering

God punished Eli’s sons for eating

 

Looking for the safest tattered house to sleep:

A bullet entered through Salah’s forehead,

While we were fleeing from gunshots,

I smiled and took it from the back of his skull

& put it in my pocket

(I cannot carry a dead body with me &

I have to show the world I have a lineage)

 

My eyes have seen the ground inhume blood

of people I love with all of my heart.

Our playground turned to a red sky.

 

Smiling all the time is a sign

the mind is depressed and the body a house to scars.

 

I grew up believing I will become some mothers’ prayer

every morning they wake up to pray for their children.

 

Now all that is preventing me from killing myself

is the thought that the world was beautiful

& the world will be beautiful again.

IMG-20190826-WA0038

Idowu Odeyemi is a Nigerian poet and essayist. His poem Love Only Kills A Poor Boy won the Liverpool based Merak Magazine 2019 annual literary recognition Awards for Best Poem of the Year. He was shortlisted for the 2018 Nigerian Students Poetry Prize and the Christopher Okigbo Poetry prize. His poems have appeared or forthcoming in the anthology 84 Bottles of Wine dedicated to the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Constellate Journal, Kalahari review, Praxis magazine, Lite Lit One, Perhappened Magazine, among others.

Categories
Poetry Trauma

Poem by Lee Alder Ketcham Seguinte

I held your hand in a hot car
while you cried and the radio played
a song about falling.

I held your hand and we leaned back
and looked at the stars through the sun roof.

I held your hand
because there was nothing else for me to do.
Because I couldn’t show you
how to meet the eyes of that pain
crowding like a nightmare-beast in the corner,
hung like thorn roses around your neck.

I held your hand
and offered the heart I hide behind the panels of my ribs
behind the slabs of my chest.
The one gone soft like a bruised peach.

I held your hand silently.
in the car,
in the dark.
Held your hand, and, looking upward,
told the stars what I could not tell you.

“There are ways to wear your bruised heart,
to wear your necklace of pain.
Even ways to wear that beast with night’s eyes.
There are ways to hold your fear so they will not consume you.

Ways to hold their hand.”

Lee Alder
Lee is old enough to know better, but doesn’t. He might be a changeling, but wouldn’t tell you if he were. He lives in Sacramento, California with his husband, five cats with lofty names, a dog named after a Pokemon, and another debatably-Arcadia. His other work can be found at lawofnames.com
Categories
Poetry Self-Harm

getaway car by Michelle Cadiz

I imagine death like a getaway car,
idling quietly at the bottom
of a pile of pills

a runaway bride, a flight risk, a convict.
on dark nights I picture myself
climbing in – the familiar rush of
relief, each swallow another mile
in the rear-view mirror.

these backpocket suicide dreams knock
around with house keys and spare change,
and I drag them around like a child clings
to a soft toy, up late, unable to sleep.

20200526_083318

Michelle Cadiz is a poet from the Philippines. She is currently finishing her undergraduate degree in biology.

Categories
Autism Poetry

Sensory by C.M. Crockford

The clapping hands 

(cannon fire)

thousands of them

battering his skull – 

sharp sickening shocks – 

 

all the boy can do – 

 

scream.

 

Mouth gaping 

fingers clawing 

at temples.

 

Fifteen years pass.

 

He hears music in a great city.

He’s changed.

He watches.

Listens.

 

The instruments 

build into white noise

 

inside – 

fevered cathedrals.

Delicate wombs.

 

He knows it is

a tower of sound

where he would live

in Prayer

 

to beauty.

The violent discord 

of this world.

E235D7BA-A770-48FB-A397-BAA5401FC9F4

C.M. Crockford is a writer with credits in Neologism Poetry Journal, Oddball Magazine, Vastarien, and Toho Journal Online among others. He is on the autistic spectrum. He lives in Philadelphia with his partner Julia.

Categories
Anxiety Poetry

Gut Reno by Mackenzie Moore

I hope you don’t have buyer’s remorse

for a house looking pretty good

when you signed the papers

worst case: some flaky grout

 

Only after months of padding around

learning the sounds of a fixer upper

did you find yourself lingering

on the same creaky board

 

Jump once

jump twice

you hit the dry rot

 

You’re not going to fire sale

but, if the right buyer

could put money down to fix it,

Well.

moore_photo

Mackenzie (she/her) is a writer and illustrator based in Los Angeles who currently writes for podcasting and television. Her first chapbook is forthcoming with Kelsay Books in early 2021— she believes bagels heal most wounds.