Poem: the Sense of an Ending

 The world spun increasingly slow
Days felt like months
Hours felt like days
Minutes felt like hours
Volcanoes spurted their larvae
All together
They wanted me to feel their inner heat
I didn't want to miss it
I felt hot, very very hot
I smoldered, I cringed,
I felt as if I were turning to ash
Instead I turned into glass
Thick glass
I refracted the glow of the molten larvae
The larvae felt like tears
Tears that would have otherwise remained retroflected,
Flowed in hot fury
I am thankful for the heat that changed me
I have turned into a solid, transparent, reflective, smooth, supportive material
This is a gift
As the end drew near
The volcanoes emptied out
Heat turned to warmth
It is now summer
The sense of an ending
There is sadness
It is not grief because there is no loss
Only gain
As the last milliseconds crept by
I felt the here-and-now like never before
How long does the here-and-now last anyway?
3 seconds? 3 milliseconds?
At the very end
As we say our goodbyes for the last time at the door
as we turn to look each other for the last time eye to eye
The here-and-now is eternity.

Nicole Chew-Helbig, Vienna, 26.6.2019


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Sabrina Benaim Poetry: Explaining My Depression to My Mother

Explaining My Depression to My Mother: A Conversation

Mom, my depression is a shape shifter.
One day it is as small as a firefly in the palm of a bear,
The next, it’s the bear.
On those days I play dead until the bear leaves me alone.
I call the bad days: “the Dark Days.”
Mom says, “Try lighting candles.”
When I see a candle, I see the flesh of a church, the flicker of a flame,
Sparks of a memory younger than noon.
I am standing beside her open casket.
It is the moment I learn every person I ever come to know will someday die.
Besides Mom, I’m not afraid of the dark.
Perhaps, that’s part of the problem.
Mom says, “I thought the problem was that you can’t get out of bed.”
I can’t.
Anxiety holds me a hostage inside of my house, inside of my head.
Mom says, “Where did anxiety come from?”
Anxiety is the cousin visiting from out-of-town depression felt obligated to bring to the party.
Mom, I am the party.
Only I am a party I don’t want to be at.
Mom says, “Why don’t you try going to actual parties, see your friends?”
Sure, I make plans. I make plans but I don’t want to go.
I make plans because I know I should want to go. I know sometimes I would have wanted to go.
It’s just not that fun having fun when you don’t want to have fun, Mom.
You see, Mom, each night insomnia sweeps me up in his arms dips me in the kitchen in the small glow of the stove-light.
Insomnia has this romantic way of making the moon feel like perfect company.
Mom says, “Try counting sheep.”
But my mind can only count reasons to stay awake;
So I go for walks; but my stuttering kneecaps clank like silver spoons held in strong arms with loose wrists.
They ring in my ears like clumsy church bells reminding me I am sleepwalking on an ocean of happiness I cannot baptize myself in.
Mom says, “Happy is a decision.”
But my happy is as hollow as a pin pricked egg.
My happy is a high fever that will break.
Mom says I am so good at making something out of nothing and then flat-out asks me if I am afraid of dying.
No.
I am afraid of living.
Mom, I am lonely.
I think I learned that when Dad left how to turn the anger into lonely —
The lonely into busy;
So when I tell you, “I’ve been super busy lately,” I mean I’ve been falling asleep watching Sports Center on the couch
To avoid confronting the empty side of my bed.
But my depression always drags me back to my bed
Until my bones are the forgotten fossils of a skeleton sunken city,
My mouth a bone yard of teeth broken from biting down on themselves.
The hollow auditorium of my chest swoons with echoes of a heartbeat,
But I am a careless tourist here.
I will never truly know everywhere I have been.
Mom still doesn’t understand.
Mom! Can’t you see that neither can I?

Hilborn & Schimnkey: Poem on What is Not Told about Sexual Abuse

My school was fairly progressive
They even taught contraception in our sex-ed class

When I was 14, my dad handed me a box of condoms and said,“You know how to use these right?”

We were taught which preventive methods were the most effective

I was in Texas, so Dad’s with shotguns

And where to go if something broke, what to take, how to fix this mess you’ve gotten yourself in

We were taught about herpes and gonorrhea and Syphilis and how to keep all your fluids to yourself

My friends taught me which clinics wouldn’t tell my parents

Which ones handed out free condoms

But I was never taught that there were worse things that could happen than a baby or a disease

Yeah, we learnt about roofies

We learnt how to respect when a woman says ‘No’

We learnt about protecting your drink, carrying a pepper spray

We learnt what to do when a woman is assaulted

But not that this could happen to me.

I was a virgin when I was raped for the first time

When it happened to me it was 10 A.M. and my parents were home

My textbook hadn’t described the way I wouldn’t even try to fight

There was no paragraph on how to stop him/her without making a scene

There was no worksheet for how to stop him without waking up my sleeping parents

There was no correct answer to her threats of suicides when I wasn’t in the mood

There was no manual for the polite victim

You know, it wasn’t like they said it would be

I was sober, he was sober

We were seventeen/fifteen

They didn’t teach me that I wouldn’t know how to protect myself

That my lungs would close up and we would make pretend husband and wife

Make pretend love

The thing about pretend, is that it flattens everything to one colour

It makes it too simple

It makes it one syllable and that syllable is always captioned as a ‘Yes’

They didn’t teach me that I could wanna be with someone but not always want them, that being curious about sex doesn’t mean I was asking for it.

What I learned was I was supposed to want it

I was supposed to feel stolen, supposed to feel like less of a human being

I learnt that if you don’t scream, no one will listen to you

They don’t write about the ones that got away

I learnt that foundation comes in fourteen different shades

No one wants to hear your skin is changing colours

They only ask how you’re doing to hear you say ‘Fine’

I learnt that I was supposed to feel fine, We were lovers after all

And with a love like that, you hardly have to ask right?

I don’t want to blame my school

I don’t want to blame her

I don’t want to blame my church, or my mother or even the boy

We were just children

But this is preventable, so someone must be responsible for preventing it

We can teach this better

Some paintings are built from a thousand points of colour

If you stand too close, the sunset becomes just a series of red dots

We teach that rape is always a man in an alley

Always a clenched jaw and a closed fist

Always a stained white shirt

But I never used my pepper spray

I never had to worry about an uncle or a locker room

Do not confuse one story for all stories

Do not stare at a red dot and say, “The Whole painting is just one colour.”

Hilborn on Self-Isolation and Death: This is Not the End of the World

Neil Hilborn, “This is Not the End of the World”.  I thank the angel who introduced me to this poet.  This is a poem of self-isolation, or the need to withdraw from the world. Hilborn not only articulates the world of depression and loneliness, but also offers us a way of understanding the self in this place.

I’ve been hearing that the world is ending.
I’ve heard it SO much these days I can either completely ignore it or never leave my house again,
that is if I actually left my house for things that don’t directly enable me to keep my house,
see
I’ve been thinking about… driving nowhere.
I’ve been thinking about becoming a box inside a locked room inside a dark house at the dark end of the street.
I want to go away until I’m gone
it takes so much less energy to not exist than it does to exist and get burned.

I’ve been burned so much i’m not me anymore,

I’m a stupid puppet version of me
I’ve got strings that lead to nowhere,
nothing is pulling on me
I wish someone would drag my hand out of hiding and sign my name on a dotted line
There are days that I cannot find the sun even though its right outside my goddamn window.
when getting out of bed feels like the key in the doomsday machine,

so on those days… this is what I tell myself:
Whatever you’re feeling right now there is a mathematical certainty that someone else is feeling that exact thing.

This is not to say you’re not special
this is to say thank god you aren’t special

I have kissed no one good night
I have launched myself from tall places and hoped no one would catch me.
I have ended relationships because suddenly I was also exposed, but

Isolation is not safety, it is death.
If no one knows you’re alive, you aren’t.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around to hear it, it does make a sound but then that sound is gone.
I’m not saying you will find the meaning of life in other people,
Im saying other people are the life to which you provide the meaning,

see… we’re wrong when we say
I think therefore I am.
The more we say it the more it sounds like
I think therefore I will be.

You cannot think yourself into a full table
You cannot think and make walls and a roof appear around you
I have thought
and thought myself into corners made of words and nightmares
and what has it gotten me,
but more thoughts…
a currency that only buys more currency,
so please…

if you want to continue existing… do something
learn to make clouds using only your breath
build a house even if every wall leans to the left
love it anyway
just like a season
just like a child
love how you hate yourself sometimes because least there’s still something to hate
I know how easy it is to think and keep thinking until you’re the last person left on earth
until the entire world becomes no larger than the space between your bed and the light switch
but…
I hear the world is ending soon.
when we go, and we’re all going to go
I will be… part of it.