This Year’s Child

This is sort of my 2013 in review poem. I read back over some of my old posts and things that happened this year, and this is what I came up with. Some things are notably absent, please don’t judge me on that score!


This year

I have taken approximately 3000 pills

This year

Seamus Heaney died, as did a piece of Beowulf. So.

This year

I have lived a generic existence. Unlabelled, flat, unrippled

No quakes, no storms. No roll of thunder

This year

Nobody has died

This year

I have taken someone’s small bruised world

And studied it like an orient pearl

This year I learned what it was like to be a pretty girl

And I feel bad for them

This year I was tongue tied

I raged at the inadequacy of paper

This year I understood the agony of movement

I laid in bed for days at a time

This year I was frenetic, fragmented, fractious, fictitious, fractured

This year I bought a dictionary (I have read up to ‘F’)

This year I trembled, I teetered

I was hebenon, iocane

I thought about the median lethal dose of caffeine and cigarettes

I was soothed by amorphous jellyfish

This year I met someone I liked

And she meandered away

Into the waning December


I am not ready for heroin

This piece was a sort of revelation for me on a couple of levels. Firstly, it has an actual title, a title that I quite like. Secondly, it really just came out without any effort. I know that  writers hate it when people say things like that, but I sort of casually wrote it while watching a movie about Kerouac.

No, I do not think I am ready for heroin yet
I do not think I am ready to read Swann’s Way
To own a television or a couch
To travel across America in a broken-down sedan
To take a week-long train ride from coast to coast

I do not think I have suffered enough
To sing the blues
To return to those things I carelessly discarded
Those people I broke like guitar strings
I do not think I have played enough minor chords

I do not think I am ready to open the music box
To hear that tinkling of angelic notes, prophesying nothing
I do not think I am ready to pretend
Or to fuck somewhere we might get caught

I do not think I am ready to rhyme
To read poetry in front of a crowd
Wave my words like a loaded sestina
To finalize the divorce
I do not have room for a coffee maker

I do not think I am ready to lose control
To drink until higher functions all shut down
Until I can no longer hold a pen
Until I am a penumbra of infirmity

I do not think I am ready to leave Oregon
To breast the mountains like a board on the waves
To throw away those old CD singles
To give up on my dreams of the stage

I do not think I am ready
To appreciate abstract art
To kiss you and not mean it
To scream as long and loud as the highway
To pick up the good times like litter when the bad times are falling ashes

I cannot cry at nothing any more
I cannot watch you grow up
I cannot stop wishing I was a girl
I am not willing to buy a new toothbrush

And I do not think I will write you a love song
I am not ready to throw a plate in anger
Or carry a loaded gun
To kick those old, white habits

I do not think I am ready
To abandon hope of you
To use the word ‘broken’
To throw out those t-shirts that no longer fit
To finish

New Year’s Day

new year’s day
the mites patrol the halls
the beetles shudder in the rafters
all things silent
as our footsteps over old snow
it is the season of barbiturates
of totality archived
be it silence or noise
and never looked up again
the snow tears at my skin
like streamers
this pale etymology of power
flows off the edges of me
the way that only winter can believe
a broken hammer lies on the kitchen table
an expired ticket
a fierce disease
this seasonal decline, unresolved
slips in as easily as a needle
we on that long walk
from nowhere to nowhere
collapsing with each footstep
we cannot take

Is it possible for me?

To write about depression. I once wrote somewhere… and I’m paraphrasing myself… ‘The problem with writing a book about depression is that when you’re depressed, something like writing seems impossible’. This is as true for me now as it was then. Not that I’m writing a book any more. Remember that? Once upon a time I was able to work on my book. That seems far out of sight now. For me personally, I find that when I’m super depressed, I just lie there in bed looking at the ceiling, virtually unable to move. So I figured I’d write about the things that are preventing me from writing, possibly before that leaden depression closes in again and I’m unable to write anything.

1. Drugs – no not the fun ‘blue monkeys coming out of your nostrils’ kind. This is the psychiatric kind. I am now up to taking six pills a day. They are all white, which I find sort of pleasing on an aesthetic level. They are also different shapes, which is interesting. I’m not sure if they help me or not. I wish I could travel into a parallel world where I’m not on medication to find out if I’m more or less depressed. I may stop taking my meds in a month or so (after I get back from the UK). I do keep saying that and putting it off. i have been on at least some form of medication now for over a year. In fact it’s getting close to a year and a half. And I cannot face the idea of being someone who has to be medicated for their whole life. I would rather be dead. Much rather. Anyway, one of the side effects of the drugs is a sort of… general plateauing of mood. And this means that I can’t feel the emotions that I usually use to write. It really takes a lot to make me laugh or cry.

2. Depression – despite what I said earlier, I have had some of my most productive times when I was depressed. No it’s not a contradiction! Let me exasperate… extrapolate… explicate? Just non-depressed enough to write, but just sad enough to appreciate the dreadful poetry of the world. But recently my depression has been the even lower kind. The kind where you’re ‘too depressed to kill yourself’ as a friend of mine put it.

3. Inspiration – living in a new city is full of challenges. For me, meeting people has been the biggest challenge. I’ve now been here just over seven months, and haven’t made a single friend. I used to write a lot about observations of the world and situations that arose in my life. But my life right now is lacking experience. If my life were a colour, right now it would be a kind of grey. If my life were a food, it would be spam. If my life were a bird, it would be a grey grey pigeon. You get the idea.

So what has been depressing you so much, I hear you fail to ask? Well let me tell you. I hate my job. I don’t care if anyone I work with gets to read this. I hate it. It doesn’t challenge me, and yet there’s so much information to remember and my depressed brain keeps forgetting things, which makes me feel like I’m useless.

So why don’t you get a new job, you ask? Well I have been looking for a job on and off for two years, but I have yet to get a single job offer. Yes my qualifications are that impressive. I am overqualified to start at the bottom, and underqualified to start anywhere else. For the most part, I haven’t even got call backs. Nope, nobody even thinks highly enough to bother rejecting me!

To make matters worse, I recently got passed over for a promotion at work. This prompted the worst episode of depression I’ve had since the last time I went to the hospital, which was January 2012. They wanted to admit me to the psych ward this time, but there were no beds in the city available (thank god for health cuts). I have been sorely tempted to try and drink my troubles away, but so far I am resisting. I would make the worst alcoholic ever. I have two bottles of wine in my fridge. They call to me, so they do.

Day 18 – Betrayal

You are

Dark trickster

Hidden in the hollow of the hand

The pill

That opens the eyes

The coin

That flashes across the palm

These feelings

Are not my own

The locus of everything is this little white pill

And you said

That the pill would become a calendar

Would become a star

Would become the world

And now I am trapped

In the sphere

Of this little white pill

Day 4 – sin

Can it be sin to know

can it be death

she gasps as she hits the floor

dulcet, flexing

into the moment

this shuddering rush

comes up through the blood

in wriggling little pulses

like the fall of an empire

strums on the back of the eyes

simultaneously relaxing and tensing

every single muscle

you have that savant smile

the room begins to move out of focus

why is this night not like all other nights

tonight is for

the great slowness of aching


that is only possible

when the mind moves at such speeds

tonight is a night

we will remember