Ward Stories: Poetry from the Mental Health community
Ward StoriesOrganized by Dan Frey, Editor in ChiefSix poets are featured in this Winter 2017 edition of Ward Stories: Carolyn Sanzenbacher, Relda Hill, Debra Faes-Dudden, Carl Blumenthal, Susin Postovoit, and Matty Guerrero. Some poems are seasonally-themed, some upbeat, some clever, some positive, some raw, but all have something to offer as you sip your hot spiced wine by the roaring fire with our publication in hand (or on screen). Be well and have a safe and satisfying autumn and winter.
Autumn PilgrimageBy Carolyn SanzenbacherIt was not from disrespect that we smelled of musty earth when the pawpaw trees felled fruits that oozed into engraver's cuts, rendering the headstones nameless and mute.Here is grandmother, we would say to one another,and there is aunt Vivian who died blind before sixteen, and there is Connard who didn't die from the fever like Vivian did. Others too, stared up from the stones weuncovered each autumn.The unrotted fruits were sweet like mangobut bitter near the peel. Seeking the edge between the two would twist our mouths in joy and throw us back on feather-veined leaves burying the stones we came to revive.Of those amber colored seasons when the acrid was so freely tasted and the dead so simply resurrected, little remains now but for the stones we used as pillows.Long silenced by passages of untasted fallings,iced by slow coming winters, then dried to burnt sienna before the next autumns came.
Living with Mental IllnessBy Debra Faes-DuddenHow pretty a picture I would like to paintOh, to taste the meringue atop a lemon pieOr the chocolate chip cookie just so warm from the ovenMental illness is none of theseNot pretty, not melt-in-your-mouth, sweet and warmIt’s an isolated desert where many of us are lostOur pockets are empty, our shoes weighted with sandOur eyes tear out of grief and frustrationPanic makes our legs weak and some of us fallConfusion is a constant itch when the pace oflife gyrates too fast or too slowAnd when we awake in the morning,sometimes we don’t know where we areCriticism is a cruel response from peopleThey see our struggle then turn a blind eyeOur voice ripples against seemingly deaf earsThey fear what they do not understandThis awareness does not decrease painful rejections we feelMental illness is chronic physical illnessDepression, anxiety, schizophrenia stand besidediabetes, fibromyalgia, asthma, and heart diseaseAll require patience, understanding, and ongoing treatmentWe are all God’s childrenPlease treat us with respect
Here’s What Mood Swings Feel Like…By Carl BlumenthalLittle Red Riding Hood devouring the Wolf.Hansel and Gretel stuffing the Witch with bread crumbs.The Three Bears ordering Goldilocks to bed without porridge.Tom Thumb bulking up for the Olympics.The Hare’s Adderall pooping out before the finish line.Rumpelstiltskin forgetting his name due to Alzheimer’s.The Giant grinding Jack’s bones for bread flour.Snow White awakening by her Stepmother’s kiss.The Wolf’s asthma saving The Three Little Pigs’ homes.Pinocchio sticking his nose in one too many lives.The Fisherman catching the Fish with his wife as bait.Beauty turning into a Beast after the marriage.The Boy Who Cried Wolf becoming a zookeeper.Cinderella growing too fat for the glass slipper.The naked Emperor being mistaken for a porn star.Rapunzel losing her hair during chemotherapy.The Goose Who Laid the Golden Egg getting constipated.Humpty Dumpty rebounding from the fall of the king.
WinterBy Relda HillThere’s a cold stark beauty To the grey sky in winter. The trees stand with dignityUnadorned, with their limbs curved In ecstasy like the limbs of a graceful dancer.The trees embrace the firmamentWhile their roots penetrate the earthSoaking up the hidden water in the soil.Their limbs stretch as a fierce loveEnfolds their being. They know that they will survive this winter And it brings them peace simply to standTall and face whatever happensBecause when you walk in between The worlds as they doThey fear nothing and no one.They simply exist and even if their Fate is to stand there and be purifiedThey endure the chastening rodOf the Great Mother who gives themLight in the spring, beautiful flowers,And succulent fruit to adorn their branches How could they not trust the earth that groundsThem and the sky that covers them in rain?They are full of gratitude and an everlasting loveThat enfolds them like the wings of a white dove.
Flights of FancyBy Susin PostovoitOh yes! Life's a mess,I must now confess,Instant highs caress --They’re escapes, a mess.Lies bound with tresses,In plaits, then pressed.Naughty! I should stress.Knotty! to digress.Lies naughty, useless.Lies press and harass,Lies that I suppress --Ah! Not a success.I'm flying, oh yes?Still, nevertheless,I dress for success --A liar’s useless.I'm a liar, I'd guess …States the choir: Oh yes!
I'm ReadyBy Matty GuerreroI walked in,Everyone expects me to be nervous,But it looks like I've been doing this my whole life...I have the talk,And I have the walk.Of course,I'm scared to death in my head,Not knowing what's going to happen.But, oddly, that's not the right word for it...I'm not scared.I'm ready...To face everything you throw my way.I'm going to fight,Until it comes out right.So thank you,For challenging me.