The Hornets Nest

The hornets nest hovers
stings poised to strike
needles stable, calculated
veins athirst.
Don’t kick the hornets nest,
don’t kick me where
it will hurt.

Rather hitch me upon
a star,
a far distanced entity
that brings the broken
to the fabric to which
the earnest cling,
for nothingness is a plight
empty and without grasp.

To know is to be free,
yet knowledge begs the
presence of pain;
sensation breeds it.

Hitch me to unadulterated
kick the hornets nest and
let me feel
nerves nudged,
for nothingness is a plight
empty and without grasp.


Coffee beans ground finely, roasted into a toasty but stringent espresso.  Over the darkness two poles are poured, milk and cream, the pauper and the prince.  The elements combine to form the color of life, discernible and livable, clouds and shadows swirling on the gentle landscape.

I had called the psychiatric emergency crisis line two nights in a row.  The therapist on the other end could feel the tickling tentacles of my demons reaching through the airwaves and requested I come into the emergency department to be evaluated.  The air in the ED was thick, heavy, and populous, yet there was not enough to sustain a single breath.  The tentacles were misbehaving, spreading to great reaches and tapping shoulders of others.  I had not eaten in close to twelve hours, my receptacle empty and my reserves slim.

The evaluating therapist tamed the tentacles long enough for me to get my story out.  The illustrations were old comic book style, bold colors and patterns, but little shading.  Little bits and pieces of our conversation stick on the post-it note covered wall of my brain.  Central nervous system suppression.  Trauma.  Maladaptive coping mechanisms and behaviors.  Apparently my story was publishable, earning a coveted spot with the exclusive board of directors at the hospital, the individuals who were the news and who told the news.

Being on the board of directors was quite interesting.  My tenure was short-lived, only six days.  Sometimes the overseers allowed respite from rigidity of the duties of formulating and planning, and the board members could dance in unadulterated bliss to the beats of Uptown Funk and shake booty to popular rap songs.

The tentacles were retreating and retracting, and the smog in my brain lifting.  Puppet strings pulled the corners of my mouth upward, an action foreign to the nerves firing to my facial muscles.  I left the board of directors well respected and soared with a proper farewell.

The darkness of the depths of the brain, where depression and the evils reside, becomes mitigated by the paupers and princes of life, the poor and rich experiences that serve to draw color to the darkness.  Through acceptance of the dialectic existence of the poor and the rich, darkness lightens.  Last week I experienced my thirteenth hospitalization.  Acceptance has the capacity to color my espresso differently and to alter the fabric of existence upon which I reside.  


Two years ago.

It’s cold.  So cold, cold enough to cause tissue necrosis on the very tip of my nose where the cold bites, and I say okay.  My toes move little, my mouth less.  I am slow, my tongue drawling, words dripping like molasses.  I pull on my woolen socks, then a second pair.  Long underwear.  Snow pants.  Boots.  Mittens, a hat, and three scarves.  Readying myself for a day which I will never be ready for.

One year ago.

It’s still cold, roads plowed and salted.  I can taste the salt on my tongue, strange as it may be.  Taste is foreign; I cannot remember the last time the world tickled the little bumps on my tongue.  The cold still bites, and, wrinkling my nose in burgeoning annoyance, I mutter okay.  Just one pair of wool socks today.  I toss the other pair across the carpet.  Long underwear.  The snow pants dance a jig as I retire them for the first time in over ten years.  Jeans today.  Mittens, a scarf.  Maybe no hat.  I can take the bite; I can take it.  

Six months ago.

The ice covering tears captured by frost has melted.  They flow.  An escape.  I do not call the warden.  Let them flow.  I wipe the smudged tears from my face and notice a wetness on my body, a collection of small droplets within my creases, my underarms.  Sweat.  I had not noticed the change in weather.  The sun’s stealth and deception amuse me.  I chuckle.  I pull on a light pair of khakis and a cashmere sweater, deeming myself presentable for the day.

One month ago.

The sun is shining.  My lips reach out to kiss it.  Chuckles raise to symphonic laughter.  The sun is shining, and I cannot believe it.  I pull on some shorts and a cotton shirt and skip my way down the mossy path.  

One day ago.

A cloudless sky.  The sun tints my nose, and I say yes.  My clothes lay in a heap on the bedroom floor.  

The Defective Domino

The knots which had been steadily looping and tightening within me suddenly pulled mercilessly.  The knives stabbed my chest, my heart, I knew.  My innards wished to be decorative feathered boas draped across my clammy torso.  The bugs crawled across my skin, but I could not catch them.  I could not squash them.  I looked across the room.  The windows of the fifteenth floor apartment were open.  Jump, I heard whispered.  In fear, I sought refuge on the street.  The train was approaching.  Jump, I heard whispered.  The scissors snipped, and I floated away.

My mind and mood cycle rapidly.  Up to down, down to up, up and down together, defying the laws of gravity and any semblance of common sense.  I was slowly stacking dominoes.  A bachelors degree from college.  Enrollment in a certificate program for paralegal studies.  A wonderful, fulfilling, healthy relationship.  Then, the first domino tipped.  I am unsure what force with requisite pressure caused the first fall in a chain reaction.  Paranoia, depression, obsessive-compulsiveness, and anxiety began to take nest.  As the dominoes fell harder and faster, I feared this was the end, that I would finally come to know intimately the last domino in my chain.  Interventions were utilized.  The Klonopin we abruptly stopped, we started again.  We added Cymbalta, and added some more.  Medications were failing to drain the tub in which I was slowly drowning.

This morning, I awoke.  To awaken was not inherently unusual, but rather the circumstances under which I awoke were of peculiarity.  There was a strange dissipation anxiety and depression.  The air in the room hung uneasily, as if a being of large mass had just exited and there existed a void where he had stood.  I recognized with certainty the miracle of the defective domino.  Something in my life, in my mind, triggered a domino to default, to miss.  The train of dominoes ceased to fall, stopped in their tracks as if frozen.

I have never reached the last domino.  Perhaps there is a protective device operating within me, or externally of me, that renders a domino defective.  God, the love of my partner and my family, the wonders of therapy and pharmaceutical intervention.  I continue to fight because I know, without a doubt, that there is always a faulty domino in the pack.

Going Home

This poem is a product of an assignment for a class.  I took the Miranda rights and replaced each noun with the seventh or ninth word below it in the dictionary.  The jumbled result read to me like what an individual experiencing psychosis may hear when recited.  This was my inspiration for the poem.

Going Home

It’s hot, my sweaty skin sticking
sweat pooling between folds.
The sun keeps talking
so I keep listening,
direct radio uninterrupted,
commercial free.
Be free.
I strip to my skivvies in
the city park and dance where
the ground spits upon
my dirt caked body.

Lights flash and I wonder
if I am going home.
Home is where they light
my brain with matchbooks and
encapsulate me
in numbers.
Numbers spin like dots
on dice,
and I wonder if I am
going home.

Lights flash and the men come.
I am going home.
I hear
You have the right hand to remain silicate
     when questioned
and all I can think about
are apples dancing in swimming
holes and bananas fighting
the corsets holding back
the fruits of their

Lights flash and I approach
the light,
my hands constricted by
the steel jaws of the
shark I met last week.
I hear
If you cannot afford an attribute, oneness
     will be appointed to you before
     any quibble, if you wish
and all I can think about
is whether Mary will know I am

Lights flash and I am on
the subway express to home.
I hear
Knowing and understanding your right hand as I have
     explained themself to you, are you willing
     to answer my queue-jumping without an
     attribute present?
My lips are sealed.
I am going home.

Praying for the Pendulum

Equilibrium.  My breath flows gently, evenly, soft as the lunar pulling of the tides, scented sweetly with rose and tulip fragrance. I am unlabored.  My limbs, my kinesiology, function at optimum level, joints bending, muscles pulling and releasing.  Pathology is a topic taboo, unspoken, for why should it exist?  Clouds shed ample water to nurture and cultivate crops for a plentiful harvest.  Hush, the fertile ground whispers to the girl, fear not, as pain and suffering are banished to the periphery, antiquated tales told solely to draw remembrance to what has passed and what could come to be.  Words and phrases escape my lips in dances of restraint, tight waltzes danced by lovers who do not misstep.  My mind turns with clockwork efficiency, correctly chiming hours, half hours, quarter hours.  My lips curve into smiles soft as rolling hills, relaxed and unstrained, manifesting and subsiding with consideration and precision.  I do not swing but stand with determination, yet permanency and consistency are not components of my vernacular.

The pendulum begins to sway.  My ship is crushing against tempestuous waters, waves of salty tears spilling across wooden decks.  I attempt to steer the mast, yet my efforts are of little avail.  My breath reeks, betraying the sweet utterances I spew forth, exposing the lies frolicking in glee.  I am adept at hiding, at foolery, but the putrid sewer water seeping through the gaping pores in my diminishing and cowering epidermis offer no refuge.  I am exposed, burnt to blisters by the harsh Saharan sun, and I can no longer withhold the fluid from my weeping sores.

The swinging pendulum peaks to the left.  The putrid sewer water has inundated my lungs and my alveoli can no longer sequester oxygen from the once sweet inhale.  Rather the poison pumps through my vascular system, slowly failing organ by organ, each destined to the same fate.  I open my mouth to speak, yet all that escapes chapped, bleeding lips are gurgles and coos, my linguistic powers reduced to that of an infant.  Regression draws me to the land where the happenings of the physical world are insignificant and no longer relevant.  I am relegated with joy to death row, accompanied by the sickest and most depraved of criminals.  Yet I know with undying conviction my own sickness, the crimes of which I am guilty, punishable to the fullest extent of the law.  My stomach begins empty.  What nutrition and sustenance shall I need in death?  The initiation of slow starvation prepares my mind and body for the realm of the dead.  Why fight what is soon to pass?

The pendulum swings to the right.  My body miraculously reverts from a stage of deprivation to a stage of plenty.  Where words were once defiled or absent now pour forth with the gushing and arcing of arterial spray, lifeblood coursing through expanding vessels and illuminating the world in a splashing splay of vitality and increasing wellness.  The taste is palpable, metallic yet pleasing to the tongue.  Stagnant neurons in my brain receive incessant telegrams, synapses once dead springing to work and shooting newfound energy through thirsty cells and across unlocked barriers.  The signs flash “Open for Business,” and the clockwork turns.  However the dance quickens, gains in speed and momentum.  The dancers begin to misstep, trip, fall.  The music quickens to a deadening roar.  Moles dig their way into my brain and nibble and snack on my neurons, jumbling the thoughts and connections.  What was once pleasurable has metamorphosed into decimation.  The gray matter of my brain rebels, wielding sledgehammers to escape what has now become a camp for prisoners of war.  The question lies, will there be veterans?

The pendulum swings once again to the left, and then to the right, rapidly diminishing in the distance to which it travels.  Finally, in an answer of prayer, the pendulum reaches equilibrium.  The pendulum will sway once again and threaten to decimate my existence, yet I pray, let there be an eventual equilibrium, for the pendulum can only swing so many times.

Memory and Blank Spaces

This term I am taking a wonderful women’s studies class entitled Women, Writing, and Memoir.  The first two classes of the term involved the completion of free writes on the prompts “I remember…” and “I don’t remember…” My responses were highly reflective and raised my intrigue for these exercises.  I have decided, for this blog post, to combine the exercises and complete a free write just to see, out of pure curiosity, where it goes.

I remember the way I existed in a constant zombie, absent state as I progressed from class to class in that fiery October when I was mysteriously, unprecedentedly called to the high school administrative office for my mother to pick me up.  To the hospital, she said we were going, and all I can remember is the relief that I can finally sleep, sleep, sleep.  Sleep away the demons rooting residence within the fabric of my brain, quickly signing their renewal leases, tenants disruptive and unforgiving, destined to never leave.  I remember the discovery that no, I was to be imprisoned in a psychiatric ward where sleep was a commodity, a rarity, a luxury to be bartered for.  It was Halloween, the mountains of Southern California were ablaze, and they painted my face, me a child, the color strokes not indicative of the fourteen years of age I carried. Visitors presented, yet I was absent, my ties to the world severed, floating in catatonia.  I bowed my head, unaware of the forces struggling to break the barrier and draw me from the depths of hell in which I resided.  I remember smuggling broken tiles from occupational therapy, feeling deftly for the sharpest edges and drawing the points across my forearm until they drew blood.  There was a girl there.  I did not know her well, nor did I express the choice or will to, but I remember the ways she tried to touch me and the protests of discomfort and intense dislike I offered.  I remember the day I was allowed to leave, realizing the broken way in which these two worlds attempted to collide.

I don’t remember the white hot flashes that surged through my mind and danced their bruises across my mother’s arms, her hiding them at work to avoid the questions she knew would be asked.  I don’t remember the rages that possessed me and elicited horrific acts, only that they occurred and that I collapsed in confusion and unknowing.  While I remember the breaking of the glass, I cannot recall how it felt to pull the shard across flesh, nor the specific hue of red that emerged and trickled like a slow-flowing creek carrying away garbage cast afloat by a desperate teenager seeking cleansing and catharsis.  I do not remember the first time I prostrated to pray, but only how I ardently seek to replicate the feeling of connection I felt to God in that moment – the worlds beyond being opened to me and offering solace and forgiveness to and an understanding of the monster residing within me. I don’t remember the first time I contemplated suicide, only that the urge has never left.  I have little recognition of childhood, of a semblance of normalcy, a state in which my mind was quiet and not disruptive, sadistic, or cruel.  Most of all I do not remember familial happiness, a time in which the devils did not dance, the connecting ropes strained by illness and marriage, a time when sisters partnered rather than eschewed.  I do not remember every tear shed from red eyes, but I remember in vividness the ones which I caused.