Poetry and Rants by DC McKenzie

Posts tagged “mental illness

Rehabilitation Ward II

4 September 2k11

“Poetry surrounds us everywhere, but putting it on paper is, alas, not so easy as looking at it.” ~Vincent van Gogh

“Every where I go, I find a Poet has been there before me.” ~Sigmund Freud

This Journal, though I don’t post often, has been a labor of love; one that constantly calls me back to it…as a lighthouse beckons safe anchorage, or a Siren song amidst the waves, lures a ship to founder on the rocks.
My desire has been to create a haven of hope and empathy in the darkness of digital void.
And to that high-reaching aim I occasionally fail utterly; however, sometimes the right poem will find the right person. It changes how they perceive themselves, and the very world around them, both subtly and profoundly. When that happens it is among the most satisfying experiences for any poet—one that leaves us feeling deeply grateful for the opportunity to peer beyond the Veil of Life and share what we have found.

As a Poet, speaking to the soul of another human being is far more than a calling: it is an honor, a privilege, and I truly feel it is also a responsibility to emblazon our existence rather than cast shadows upon it. This is what we poets live for: not fame, nor glory, nor riches. But to touch the hearts of others, and perhaps help them find a path through this life.
This poem is dedicated here to Teeka Ballas, a friend who has been a brilliant inspiration to me. She is a person who gives all of herself to help others find their creative voice. Friend, confidant, editor, and a gentle yet firm goad to keep working, keep digging for my truth. In so many ways she has helped bring out the best in me, as I deal with physical disability, and mental illness, all the while forging ahead as a Poet. For that, I will be grateful to the end of my days. Here then is a poem she loves. I would also like to thank Bruce Farnsworth; an old friend who is both a gifted poet, and insightful editor. A true Wordsmith, Bruce cleaved this poem with one inspired strike into a work of beauty that I can be both humble and proud to set before you.
It is also a poem based upon true events in my life. Parts of it may be disturbing to you, Dear Reader…but then, so is life. Among our mandates as artists is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.
I wrote it in the glare of unflinching honesty, composed while still in hospital. I finished it with the dream that those who also suffer from the terrible isolation and pain that comes with disability may find some solace, and freedom from despair.

~*~

Rehabilitation Ward II: Jose

Nurse Practitioner of the Dayshift,
Jose told the story of He versus Car.
His trauma was a debilitating hit and run:

They put cables and long screws in his head.
They put needles in his arms,
wires on his chest, and a tube in his penis.
Matter of factly, Jose said that he could hardly move.

Sunlight inundated room 718
of Jackson Memorial Hospital—
illuminated every flinching detail
lit every swarming corner
where things that eat pain lurk in the daytime.

Jose stood, stripping the bed of its foulness.
Washed in morning light, his golden-caramel face
was solemnly composed. He spoke
as he worked, glancing across to me
occasionally, where I fidgeted
uneasy in my wheelchair.

My hands—
(when I stop paying attention to them)
constantly seek the scar where beneath tight,
fragile stitches, rough against my fingers,
they burned out a tiny piece of my brain;
the brainskin where they grafted a piece of someone
who, having died, donated to me a priceless gift.

Turning again—
his too shrewd eyes lighting upon me,
measuring with care, Jose picked up the thread
of his story. He spoke of how he hated
the Asian Man washing his ass and jewels

after an enema. He spoke of walking at last:
with the long screws still in his head;
of shuddering down a cold hall, the cables snaking
away beside him; the tube trailing from his penis
and the iv pole straggling next to him,
small wheels squeaking.

He spoke—
of walking alone to the bathroom one night
of how he fell to the floor,
bouncing hard, bouncing halo
of screws and shocking pain.

Jose said, “The key to running
is to have the will to keep walking.”

He spoke then of lying on the floor
with iv pole askew, its precious cargo scattered.
Jose’s hands, everworking, paused.

His eyes—hard, black marbles
glazed over with distant memory.

He spoke of the hated Asian Man
lifting him gentle from the floor.
How he wept.

 

 

 

DC McKenzie

 

 

 

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Poem from the Asylum~no.two

14 May 2k9

4 West pt ii. ~Invisible

Just a few sentences from crazy
She says,
that’s all any of us are

Working in a modern madhouse
she would know
about creeping crazy

about how the bogeyman gets inside,
about people
tied down at night

become shadows unknown
to themselves
hidden away from our sight

where they are vulnerable to any bully
who wants
to take a piece of them

You could be insane and not know
She says,
so many of us are

Crazy is as crazy does as crazy is
she shudders slackly,
they say it’s not contagious

but hang around long enough
to get some good
old-fashioned closet-therapy

some mental manacles tight,
chemical restraints
to ease your plight

and then you’ll see the truth
She says,
there is no safe place

to scream, or to whisper even
in the darkness,
a few unguarded words

~D.C. McKenzie

Migrainous Rex

~*~

—end transmission—


Poem from the Asylum~no.one

12 May 2k9

4 West pt. i

We are the Hallway People—
Shuffling aimless…discordant, dissonant
Flinching at the slightest touch of any stranger.
In vain, we try to decide whether
Our rooms are a sanctuary or cell:

A less than empty space
Too quiet not to be lonely
Inhabited by souls too burdened
Not to be somewhat mad…

We are the Hallway People—
Saying little, yet broadcasting much
Into air thick already with fear
And a smog of illness, but tinged with twilight hope.

When confronted, our gaze retreats,
Or lashes in sudden, defensive vehemence.
We are manimals, trapped in a fetid braincage,
Haunted by the knowledge that we squirm
In the cage by the working of our own minds:

Castles in the darkness we build
Of despair, a fortress high
Of joyous mania, spires twinkling bright…

We are the Hallway People—
Who sing a lament of the fractured mind.
Arias to love lost, and relentless, tock-ticking time;
The broken life…once so safe, so secure,
Become now a webwork of cracks and missing pieces:

A wisp of spider silk tangled in a branch
A child’s toy tossed aside…

We are the Hallway People—
Who have grown into riddles of ourselves.
We are puzzles without defined borders;
With no more than sharp edges to cling to,
Nor similitudes to find solace within.

~D.C. McKenzie

Cognitive Dissonance

~*~

—end transmission—