nurse practitioner serving
a generally docile population.
I walk in again
with old needs and new knowledge
understand the implications of the screening questionnaires
lie to avoid repetitive warnings
boring invocations to get help
when you’ve tried and can’t.
I respect her advice,
but I think I understand
the metabolism of the drugs I take
and by god do I understand their side effects
better than she does.
I love her but I need more,
treatments she can’t prescribe
referrals she can’t make.
Before I got my Step 1 score
You may have heard you can be
last in your class, still called “doctor.”
Not mentioned, the tension
that comes before, the names
they’ll call you, “lazy, inadequate,”
the warnings they’ll give of their power
to force dangerous exposures,
the stigma against you always brought up,
ascribed to someone else.
What I say is
don’t do it,
don’t go through it:
if you’re not a normie
maybe you can’t, but even if,
it’s not worth it,
stress and regulations overween.
("Wolfie" is a 4th year medical student at Stony Brook University with a severe case of Bipolar Disorder Type 1 (in remission), who is hoping to go into psychiatry.)
Rip me out.
Take me to my hiding place.
Break my body,
wake it up.
Empty me inside out.
Stuff me in a bin bag.
Wheel me, push hard.
Trundling across cement.
Bleeding on your shoes.
I am cracked.
My china skin breaks.
A raw egg.
Yoke spews from my gut.
I am sour.
Eat me alive.
Your gob around my face.
Take my eyes; burn it all.
Decontaminate me; set me free.
Open me up.
Place me in the palm of your hand.
Stroke my skin away.
The Rose Bush
Growing out of my centre were the little buds,
that he nurtured with the water of his words
and the sunlight of his smile.
The seeds were a sprinkling of his kisses and his tears.
The plant pot the roses grew from
weighed down the way I'd wished for beauty
and to be worshipped and adored.
The stalks flourished from their roots.
There were days when he trimmed the flowers
and days he pulled the earth,
but they were stubborn.
They grew in me as his love grew for me.
As a white bulb blossomed
wearing a costume of knives.
As a red bulb bloomed
into delicate folds of flesh.
I made war with his garden
that he kept too well;
that he kept better than gardens before.
When I'd sown the seeds myself.
I snapped the heads off the flowers,
tore into the roots
and slaughtered the rose bush.
His rose bush.
I cried over the hole in the compost,
touched the space in the garden.
As I remembered the thorns
and the petals of our love.
(Keziah Spaine is a 19 year old student, writer and activist from Bristol. Her experiences with the UK mental health system, relationships and love inspire her poetry and writing.)
(One year before Alzheimer’s diagnosis)
Pictures. Flashes of light
Tiny moments of meaning unconnected
but still joined in the impulses of
the slippery brain I have treasured
Spelling errors multiply as they swirl around in the drain where my brain used to survive and thrive.
Is that what I meant to say?
What were we talking about?
Can you see the confusion and barely suppressed terror in my eyes?
Words are my treasures; translations of experiences rolled in meaning and emotion.
I run after my words, begging for them to glance backward, to wait for me...
How can I lose my words without losing myself?
Am I the words? Are the words me?
How can I separate the soul from the body and still remain whole?
Don't run away from me, my beloveds.
Stay with me.
Dance with me.
Laugh with me.
Cry with me.
Lie down beside me and offer the greatest gift.
(Rebecca Carley was a teacher, artist, musician, among many things, prior to her early Azlheimer's Disease diagnosis in July 2014, just a year after this poem was written. She lived in central California with her husband and son. Rebecca passed in June 2020. This poem was submitted by author's husband Michael Carley.)
It’s a Beautiful Drive on Highway 14!
Homeward I go by
A house with a white
I’ve always dreamed of
A winding road
That has taken me
That seems shorter than
Greener than the years,
Like a cool wind
Of hay, cattle, and
And large red barn.
A sign 38 acres for
The Beautiful Space-