Come the Morning

Nervousness of new
And newer
Makes me sick to my stomach

We’ve got this
I say -not believe

We’ll make it through
Is more truthful
And I tell it to myself

I balance you on a memory
Have you recite all the words
The weeds with their gossamer heads
Explode into view
Memory begets memory begets memory begets you
Here with me now

Safe and sleeping as if the dragon’s den did not await us

Safe and sleeping as if your journey will not be long and solo

Safe and asleep as I long to be
Come the morning I will miss you

Sing On

Oh, shall the waves roll slowly by when all is tied and still

Abide the fawn and darting quail til fathoms shall run dry

Beneath my feet as I wait on a word or two from thee

Enticed by sunset moon sunrise and all the heavenly throng

Sing on
Sing on
My dancing fae
Sing on and nimbly sway
For on the morrow shall we meet
Rejoined at the noon day

Not a Burden

Intentions turn the wipers on

A shimmering of anxiety

Touches my dancing soul

Chaos found me pretty

Willing to upend a life spent shivering in anxiety

But you thick and barnacled, wise and rusted

Found I needed a chain to shake about

Like a tambourine round the old camper

Found me beautiful in any state

Found me light as a feather

As a spark from the lighter

As the first day you lifted me far above your head asking

Tell me all you see and once you fly higher

Shout it down

I’ll make it out as best I can

Until I learn the language of your tongue

Waves

echoes don’t answer in a place like this
where Waves of silence oppress the space
but i will hope even here
though life offer me despair
dark shapes shake me to the core
yet i will not turn away as before

Faith and Mental Illness

I struggle with mental health. This is going to be a bit of a rocky post, but bear with me as I go from mental health ally to mental health advocate.

Important note: Not a medical doctor, just a fellow sufferer with experience in social anxiety, major depressive disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and bipolar type 2. Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

These are three things I do before I go down into the rabbit hole of depression-

I ask, Am I doing the things I can to be more in touch with Heavenly Father? Remember, for those of faith, being depressed can make you feel as if the spirit isn’t with you. If you know you’re doing what you can to be in touch with God, rest assured He is with you. For me these acts of faith include prayer, scripture study, reading or listening to sermons and attending church.

I consider my physical body. As with heart disease- I try to do what helps my condition. Diet, exercise, rest, meditation and medication can be life-changers for a chronic condition. Remember, you do what’s right for you. Not everyone with heart disease needs medication, but some do. Diet and exercise alone may not be what’s right for you.

I consider my allies- But when these things don’t seem to be working- when life seems irrevocably dark despite my best efforts- I remember this is my illness. And I hang on for the ride. I may have no energy for mental health beyond uttering a prayer. During these times, understanding is needed from my allies- friends, family and my therapist. Depression is a battle. Sometimes we need a shieldbearer. Sometimes we just need a hand there for us when we reach out.

As a final thought, I quote Jeffrey R. Holland, “we are infinitely more than our limitations or our afflictions!” The rest of his talk, Like a Broken Vessel, is hopeful. On bad days, I play it over again. I’ve linked it below.

We are more than our depression or anxiety. We are more than our burdens. Yet we do struggle, we do stumble. And that’s okay.

https://youtu.be/kNAx2Rgq-uI

God will not always take the burden from me, but He can lighten the load.

Heart of a Monster: A Short Story

When I run, I become very aware of my heartbeat. Trapped. It seeks to push out beyond my body; hits my fingertips, my heels and then throbs into the scalp. When I practice tai chi, my heartbeat becomes a tightening andrelaxing of the spirit. A strengthening and stretching of the awareness, and of the forgetting, of life.

Alone, I become the heartbeat of the room – the contraction and subsequent pulse of life in the center
of a sleeping soul. And yet, I am nothing. The room continues to be a room.

I drive home in the nothingness. Afloat in the centered sensation of being. Nothing. The road sustains my calm – soft pulls of the wheel keep the gray steadily streaming beneath me. The last curve is a sharp, hard left and demands a lowered speed and double-handed spin. In the apex of this arc, a drop of blood. I stutter the grip on the wheel to avoid it. Slide close to the guard rail. In the rearview, a car behind me swerves away. Feathers ruffle. I pump my brakes; another car pulls from the apex –from a cardinal unperturbed on the yellow line.

It’s nothing. Drive. Nothing. I pull sharply into the grass, palm my keys and, out in the road, I run. There is no complaint of muscle, no remembrance of the earlier hours. Another car passes. I cross into the road, scoop up the bundle and move quickly to the bald patch of earth where tire marks have dug into the skirt of the curve. Now, I feel the pound of that short run, the knowledge of the blind spot. And the
relief of life – still breathing. He tucks his head under my hands and does not fight. I feel the flutter of
his eyes, the rhythmic scissor of beak against my stomach. I tell him not to worry. He’s okay. I’ll keep you safe, I tell him.

I’ve never held a bird and not felt the strength of its heartbeat threatening to burst with the will to escape. I murmur a prayer.

His head locked, cocked in lack of terror, legs crumpled too far to one side, eyes half-open. He gasps. Again. Again. I sing for him. It seems the right thing to do. I hold him against my chest and hope my heartbeat is steady with comfort; that my voice becomes familiar when heard through it. His wings loosen once, then easily smooth to the back. No injury apparent, a magnificent
crimson head gives way to a body of soft magenta-tipped gray. He is beautiful. Perfect.

I love him, says my daughter. I talk with my husband as he prepares for work, then peek at the bird. His half-closed eyes seem to understand Human, and he startles. His gaze is too far over to one side for the recognition, but the cramped neck stretches, reaches to panic. His mouth gasps wild silent notes. I lower the lid and wonder what I’ve done.

Surely, this is a good sign. The sign of fear in the wild. A sign of wings in the heart, I say to my husband.

My forehead pounds. I trace the power of it past my ear and into my neck. The heartbeat of lifting weights. Of running. I run my hands down my arms. I can feel the heartbeat even there.

“I don’t understand how I just let things go,” a mere breath of thought. I look at the walls. At my hands. I feel as if my hangnails are the start of some sort of stripping of the soul. If the stretch of skin continues to redden and peel, I’ll lose a hand, an arm until I’m a hazy shadow keeping the form of the skin now sloughed to the floor. And the day pushes my feet into the carpet, drills me down into the soil. My heart mocks a rhythm heard once at some country fair, and though I can’t quite find the steps, I
begin to follow its pace. I will myself to stop breathing. To keep the memory. It pushes into my scalp.

A drop. I will my heart beat slower. Slower. The long clotted lines come. I wrap up the heat of them
and hold my breath until the burn implodes in a gasp. My head hurts with the effort of it.

There’s nothing to do.

“I don’t understand.” I look. I hold them up closely. I say, it’s okay, it’s okay. Exhale until my lungs fight the effort and stutter. I’m so careless with the pieces. There’s so much of nothing.
No face to consider. No hair to smooth. No trying on of names.

I whisper the word to a friend. How far? They wonder. As if a promise would be invalid if new.

“I feel like-“

My body ripped my baby’s body apart. And I disposed of piece after piece after piece. The trash. The toilet.

“She’s trapped. I trapped him. Always nothing. Always nothing.”

A drop of blood. A drop of blood. A drop of blood.

Drip. Drip. Drop.

Each strand of life, a heartbeat undone. Each pump of blood, a loss. I constrict. It’s over, I tell
myself. It’s over. Over.

From the window, a mockingbird trills. A low breath of dove. I listen for the song of the cardinal, but I don’t know its voice. I rise, feeling the weight of an unfinished prayer, and peek at the bird.

I find the outline of his head tucked beneath the towel. I blow softly. I trace the curve of a wing.

I work my fingers under his body.
He is loose. Unhinged. The neck flops like an infant’s. I allow the squeeze of pain, the escape of tears. I take deep breaths of injury, last breaths of mourning. I lift his beak until his chin settles properly
onto his shoulders. It takes some time.

He settles in the hollow of my hand and I rock him. It seems the
only thing to do. I smooth my hand over him and stroke his head and back. A bright red calm in my
hand. My palm cups to him.
He settles back into his cotton nest. Eyes half-closed. It seems too soon to bury him. I wait. Feeling the new peace of unheartbeat.

My children hold the bird again. He doesn’t seem real anymore, they say. Wrapped carefully –loosely in paper towels, he seems somehow heavier. I place him in his grave. My son prays – his eyes tightly shut and his arms folded around his neck. I close my eyes and listen. During the prayer, I hear birdsong.

About Pen Names

Hello, strangers and friends alike!

Do you write under a pseudonym?

My pen name is taken from The Kittiwake, a poem by Wilford Wilson Gibson.

With the struggles I’ve experienced in life, his poem holds special meaning. I find the Kittiwake represents hope, and this poem a struggle for achievement of any kind.

The pen name has intimate meaning to me, but I’m still grateful for my real name. I published a book of poems under my real name years ago as a challenge to myself. Nothing happened. It was a miracle. I thought the whole world would cave in and bad reviews be thrown at me night and day. Turns out, nobody cares! Which means I can happily keep doing what I love under a gauze of anonymity. It may seem backward– who doesn’t want their poem to touch a heart? I know it would make my day.

But the moment of publishing let me know my struggles were sand. just so much sand. And I could make of it what I would. It was an enormous relief. Like walking in the library and going-look at all those people who made their dream come true. Always a booster of le morale. Anyways, I don’t talk with you much, and just wanted to say I am so thrilled to be part of a community of writers and poets and creative people. and i want to ask you– what’s your pen name and why did you choose it? what does it mean to you?

The Kittiwake

by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

With blistered heels and bones that ache,
Marching through pitchy ways and blind,
The miry track is hard to make;
Yet, ever hovering in my mind,
Above red crags a kittiwake
Hangs motionless against the wind—

Grey-winged, white-breasted and black-eyed,
Against red crags of porphyry
That pillar from a sapphire tide
A sapphire sky. . . . Indifferently
The raw lad limping at my side
Blasphemes his boots, the world, and me. . . .

Still keen, unwavering and alert,
Within my aching empty mind
The bright bird hovers—and the dirt
Of bottomless black ways and blind,
And all the hundred things that hurt
Past healing, seem to drop behind