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, 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.
By Carolyn Sanzenbacher
It 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 Illness
By Debra Faes-Dudden
How pretty a picture I would like to paint
Oh, to taste the meringue atop a lemon pie
Or the chocolate chip cookie just so warm from the oven
Mental illness is none of these
Not pretty, not melt-in-your-mouth, sweet and warm
It’s an isolated desert where many of us are lost
Our pockets are empty, our shoes weighted with sand
Our eyes tear out of grief and frustration
Panic makes our legs weak and some of us fall
Confusion is a constant itch when the pace of life gyrates too fast or too slow
And when we awake in the morning,
sometimes we don’t know where we are
Criticism is a cruel response from people
They see our struggle then turn a blind eye
Our voice ripples against seemingly deaf ears
They fear what they do not understand
This awareness does not decrease painful rejections we feel
Mental illness is chronic physical illnessDepression, anxiety, schizophrenia stand besidediabetes, fibromyalgia, asthma, and heart disease
All require patience, understanding, and ongoing treatment
We are all God’s childrenPlease treat us with respect
Here’s What Mood Swings Feel Like…
By Carl Blumenthal
Little 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.
Flights of Fancy
By Susin Postovoit
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?
I dress for success --
A liar’s useless.
I'm a liar, I'd guess…
States the choir: Oh yes!
By Matty Guerrero
I walked in,
Everyone expects me to be nervous,
But it looks like I've been doing this my whole life...