mental illness

Urban Air



The urban air weighs heavy on my chest

like my hand when I try to press my anxieties back

into my sternum. Outside the blue jays call to each other

in a pitch that leaves my fingers pressing to my temples

as I try to stop the throbbing that pulses with every beat of my heart.

This used to come easy;

my fingers relishing in the tactile press of the keyboard

would lull me like a baby gently rocked in its father’s arms.

My father held me more than my mother —

or at least that’s what I remember.

Bipolar is genetic. Did you know that?

I am different than she is. A different type.

     More subdued.

          Second string.

If you stare through the screen your eyes will focus

on the squares caging you from the vines creeping up the window


          but it won’t save you

from the smell of the neighbors smoker

that makes you hunger for the food beyond the fence.

There the songbirds serenade each other

like the waves do to the sand. My ankles

ache for the steady rhythm of the water to soothe my heartbeat,

the salt air to expand my lungs,

the vastness of the Atlantic

to steal away the panic burrowed between my ribs.



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The Off Grid Life

the off-grid life.

untied from the shackles of strife,

2017, the modern existence,

getting on the property ladder, how does anyone have a chance?
20, 25 or 30, forced to work to pay every bill,

going to work all hours, struggling to find a way, a life against our will,

needing the money from any form of work, mostly unprogressive, unhappy 
life passing by, frustrating, anger, decreasing self-worth, causing individuals to be snappy

unfulfilled, potentials are not met, working a job all day, unable to progress,

money is the key factor, for bills to be met, let me digress.

often they still aren't causing pain and suffering, stress and depression,

homelessness is rife through the country, a feeling of regression,

a feeling of being stuck, how to retrain and improve your careers?
speak to friends or family and the same conversation, doubts, and fears
if only another option was available,

one that was accepted and not just for the vulnerable,

the homeless, the people with nothing,

but how is this existence different? it is truly crushing,

once you can see that your life is consumed with working for money,

the soul has passed, your energy too, it can get so hard it's not even funny,

but who understands? in the face of consumerism, higher purchase, loans, and debt,

who is living a life, truly satisfied, and their dreams are met?

Not all people living off-grid are rich in cash!
but they aim for other needs; security in food & energy, it's worth a bash,


a growing transition for many people too,

it's not just for the hippies, the spiritual, it's for people like me and you,

think about it for a moment or two...

who would you be without your car, house and your possessions?
is that person you portray the real you? or do you blend in so people don't ask questions?
are you honest with your family and friends?

or do you sit behind a desk wishing it would end?
there is a wealth of knowledge of old traditions,

from a time when they lived without these conditions,

the conditions of social media, advertising, marketing ads or vlogs

when screen time didn't consume every waking hour, and children were fascinated with tadpoles transforming into frogs.

hours spent outside, climbing trees, playing at the park,

not allowed home unless it was tea time or had gotten dark.


a shift is happening, ecotherapy, wild schooling, bushcraft, and hikes,

forest schooling, homeschooling, people walking and out on their bikes,

scientists are noticing the effects on children's behaviors, reduced health issues,

ADHD,  also a boost in self-awareness, positivity, confidence and mental health issues

is it easier to sit a child down to hours in front of the tv, or ipad?

than it is to spend a few hours playing down the park with dad?

or baking a cake with mum, the importance of these skills are being misplaced,

in this consumerism world, with employees a number, in a life so fast-paced.


Off-grid living, the communities hidden away,

all they want is a parcel of land to look after their needs, but hey,

that's not possible, 'cause where will the local council get their tax,

with the community, living off the land, growing food and chopping wood with an axe,

the need and usage of government-owned services would become minute,

living simply and within your skills of the land, renewables used, an abundance of fruit,

food preserved in many forms, jams and chutneys, frozen meat,

enough food to last year-round to survive through winter, or in the heat,

the food produced off the land, tending the garden, and grown for nutrition,

the most important for life and health also said to aid in remission.

off grid homesteaders, don't need to take the flack,

with health as the focus, working outdoors to provide, lowering the need for prozac,
comments from shallow minded people need not be said,

the power of community, working together, I want to spread,

to include children in the transition, of conserving nature and our wildlife,


the tranquil setting amongst the seasons, watching the stars, that's my type of nightlife.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

This is my first time sharing my poetry, (after a few friends encouraged me that I should) please be kind and send your thoughts.

Also all words are opinions of myself in the modern world that we live in. 

This is not meant to cause offense, harm, upset to anyone, and if it does please understand that is not my intention.


Many thanks,

Scalding/Freezing (day 176)

I can only live in extremes.


I am the waterfall

and then

I am the memory of bursting lungs and upside-down thoughts.

I am the knives

and then

I am the softest heart you’ve ever held.

I am your dreams and nightmares

from minute to minute.

I am dead weight

and then

I am flying,

so high so high even the clouds can’t be my ceiling

I am the silence

and then

I am the bombs scratching souls

until they have no concept of healing.


I can only touch you in extremes.


I am scalding

and you drink me in like coffee,

you can smell me on the mornings your bones wake up exhausted enough to need it.

I am scalding

and you drink me in like coffee,

not caring for your blistered throat

I can soothe anything but heartbreak

with a beautiful fist like this.


Two steps and I am so cold

I could be a glacier song blaring from a snow-capped radio,

drums that beat like icicles

to mark your bare chest,

now that your hands have known me

you feel like you need scars to be complete.


I told you.

I live in extremes.

I live on the two poles of the world

and nowhere in between.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

Written 1/19/17

Dead weight

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And so I learned sunsets can't fix everything (day 166)

Cool metal on my fingers

but through my eyes this door handle is the swords of an army

and as I enter my blood goes from icy winter to a perfect clean cold,

my boots thunder or tiptoe on the pristine tile.


This is a hospital.

I have to keep reminding myself

this is a hospital,

and I don’t want to believe this is where you live

but it is where you exist.


I want so badly to go in

to keep walking

God knows you’ve faced this better than I ever will

but I am choking on your absence

and I don’t know if we will ever stop carrying this weight

if we will ever be the same once you’re home.


And no, nothing broke your bones

but that would make it easier to sleep at night

knowing without question you are healing.


And no, no one took a blade to your throat but

you might as well have

I can’t speak,

I want to write you a letter

but I don’t write in prose

and if I try I know all it will say is

this is just a broken link in your chain

zoom out and you’re the silver necklace someone has always wanted to wear

you are blind but we all have to watch as

you try to burn yourself down.


You have always been the perfect elixir when every piece of me is exhausted

but here

you are washing me out

like the walls

like the floor

what do they think, you’ll drag colors down your arm like a blade?


And just because the sunset is perfectly orange on the way home

does not mean my head is less tangled or

my heart has stopped boiling into steam-

I could tuck myself into a corner and not know the difference

because when you’re here you fill up the air all the way to the ceiling,

all I know is that you are only a seventh of the beating hearts in this house

but now that you’re gone I can hear the shadow of its sharp stab to your chest

like the silence could kill me.


People break so easily.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

Written 1/9/17

Broken links

This has been a struggle lately.

Mental Illness' Devastation

I spill


     bottomless glass of luminous

thoughts as fervid stars spread in

boundless psychic wisdom soaring through cosmic

clouds woven thick with prophecies.

Tie remote worlds to golden core where

universal minds speak with daunting visions.

Centrifugal forces such spirals and spin like water circling the bathtub drain,rapid spin swallows as I




plummet through the hole and tumble

deeper into the dark and down the empty hole,

black empty hole black cold.

Anxiety Alive

Racing thoughts taking over my brain,

My head and heart in so much pain,

Thoughts of impending doom fill my head.

Feelings of wishing I were dead,


“Just make it stop!” I scream inside myself.

Feeling as though nothing will ever help.

Knowing that the thoughts will stay in my head.

No matter what anyone has said.


I just want to have some normal thoughts,

And not always feel so out of sorts.

Feeling no one can ever fully understand,

Always seem to have my head in my hands.


The tears flow steady as I write these words,

Wishing I could fly real high like the birds.

Just get away from the racing going on,

Just get away, just be gone.


This is something beyond my control,

Why am I alive, what is my role?

How did I get like this, when did it begin?

Feeling as if I will never win.


So each day continues the same as before,

The racing feeling beginning to soar.

I wonder how will I get through another day,


Trying to keep these feelings at bay.


my friend (in my head)

tells me im a good person 

but when i look in the mirror

i dont see a person at all


but who cares

theyre not even real


im sitting in the dark

all the lights turned out

someone turns the lights on (was it me?)

oh well i dont care all i know is

i threw up


im better im better

i tell myself 

or was that me (who cares)


i think about who i used to be

they were bad but

am i really any better





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Until the scars and bloody legs

They always say: oh wow! So like her father!

So much potential. You know... Big things are coming 

The better life, the opportunities. 

So push and push and push! 


But push for what? Till when? 

Until the scars and blood legs? 

Until the lungs are black with tar 

And heart is sick with pain? 


Well, we all adjust. It's nothing you can't hide

Emotion's weak. You keep it all inside. 

Depressed? You're such a pussy. Only the strong succeed. 

Failing is not an option. So stupid, awkward, weird. 


Push! Push! They sent you for a better life

You're better, smarter than those other ones 

They're happy? But you're not them, 

Potential comes first. 


Just like my father? What if I'm not

The possibilities and roads left unexplored 

Too late. Too old. 

Must race, must beat the crowd 

No setbacks to the ordinary 


Happiness? That's not for you. Who said? I said

You struggle for the next. You struggle for the more. 

What's more? Where is the end? 

The end is with the scars and bloody legs. 

Jack T. Tate


Jonathan Trevor Tate felt a fever erupting in his gut. Unnatural warmth had broken inside of his stomach and spread, like motor oil spilling down into the shadowed recesses of a car's engine. He was hot to the touch, and felt as though fire were catching just beneath his flesh – broiling him from the inside-out and leaving him a charred husk of a man.



He spoke to friends about the sensation assailing his body. It was suggested to be a product of nerves, or the result of rotten or undercooked food. Jonathan, or “Jack” as he preferred, thought otherwise. In spite of how he felt, Jack thought it best to persevere through work and play, never electing to stay in bed on a weekday morning or to deny a drink with co-workers once the sun began to set. On one such night, he decided to overindulge – happy to douse his burning insides with alcohol.



Jack was an advocate of gin, and with each emptied martini glass, he felt the clear liquid seeping further into the glowing embers piled in his abdomen. Alone in the back of a cab that night, the world somersaulting by him at a manic clip; he imagined himself belching purplish flames and smoke, like some sort of white collar dragon. The thought brought a chuckle from his lips, causing the driver to glare at him through the rear-view mirror. One of his bushy eyebrows was cocked in a quizzical way. Jack grinned and turned his gaze towards the window, growing dizzier as the scenery raced past him.



Before falling into a thin, perturbed slumber, Jack had been ill. His belly empty, he laid face up on the tiled floor of his washroom, head propped against the tub, staring at the neat and colorless line where the walls and ceiling met. Vomiting had left him stranded in the murky and turbulent realm just between sobriety and drunkenness. His head pounded, and sweat stood out on his forehead and cheeks. The wallpaper over the latrine seemed to bulge and shrink and shift as Jack watched – its decorative patterns rearranging themselves like a nest of confused serpents under glass.



He wasn't sure how much time had passed before the spins tapered off. Hoisting himself shakily to his feet, Jack dared to peer into the toilet bowl at the former contents of his stomach. He steeled himself, half-expecting to see the water clouded with blood, and felt more conscious of the burning in his midsection than he had since arriving at the bar. His newly-reclaimed lucidity was suddenly overwrought by fear and dread.



The water was almost perfectly clear, save for the partially-digested remains of the green olives he ate after polishing off each martini. Jack stared into the porcelain bowl with an absent glaze over his eyes. The warmth in his belly was more intense than ever – he felt it radiating from his thighs all the way up to his collarbone. His breath grew heavy and labored. Each exhalation produced a cloud of vapor that distorted the air, making the room shimmer and wave like a desert mirage. He shook his head roughly, nearly throwing himself off balance and back on to the cold tiled floor.



Jack woke the next day in a puddle of sweat and urine. The sheets he had slept on were completely soaked through. His right foot dangled over the side of the bed, wrapped in the blanket that he had kicked away when his fever spiked. His heart thundered in his chest. He heard the sound of it ringing in his ears as his drowsiness gave way to growing panic.



His breath came out in heavy rasps, visible against the punishing light of morning. Clouds of translucent gas ballooned from his mouth and rose, distorting his surroundings. Jack could see the picture frames on the furthest wall dancing and wriggling – warped as they were through the vaporous prism of his diseased exhalations. Looking up, Jack saw that the ceiling over his bed was heavily discolored and full of watery stains. The plaster there had begun to peel; small, white flakes fluttered idly towards the floor and where Jack lay on his bed.



He stirred, fearful of making his condition worse but too alarmed and full of adrenaline to remain on his back. Each movement sent waves of intense heat over the length of his body. Lava swam from his core and into each limb, making every surface feel scalding under his fingertips. Jack felt as if he had slept through late afternoon in the Nevada desert, perspiring to an intense degree and feeling a thirst the likes of which he had never known. He stumbled from his bedside to the door before shambling down the hallway. Reaching his kitchen, he fell against the counter and draped himself over it as he pawed desperately for his cell phone. He unplugged it from its charger, dialed '911' with shaking fingers, and rambled incoherently to the dispatcher answering from the other end of the call. Her outpouring of questions only agitated Jack, and he distantly heard himself shouting into the receiver in a desperate bid to make the dumb girl aware of how dire his straits were becoming. The dispatcher patiently attempted to keep Jack on the phone, despite his slurring and panting. She had sent for an ambulance less than one minute after the call had been made.



Jack was dimly aware that he was on his back again. The stucco ceiling overhead rolled and undulated as otherworldly vapors bellowed from his throat. His consciousness grew thin and teetered. Succumbing to his state, Jack became aware of an unusual brightness filling the room. It swelled and faded, swelled and faded, as if following the ebb and flow of his breath. He let his mouth hang open when nausea swept through him, and the light intensified.



The heat was overwhelming. No part of him was without the scolding, burning, seething sensation radiating from his gut. His fever-addled brain began to present confusing images to him: a comic book superhero made of living flame, a zeppelin set ablaze and falling from the sky, a man set alight and sitting cross-legged burning to a crisp before collapsing onto his side. Jack began to smell smoke and tasted hot metal. He felt his tongue peeling apart in his mouth. His teeth were fusing together, while his gums bubbled and ran in a stream of bloodied pink from the corners of his mouth.



Jack began to flail. The fumes issuing from his gullet billowed and clouded together, forming a thick, obscuring haze. At some point he had clambered back to his feet, and lashed at nothing; blind to his surroundings and deaf to the cries of anguish rising from his own throat. Hit wits had been blotted out by hysteria, and he thrashed about his kitchen before straying into the front hall of his apartment. Photographs were swept down from the wall to the floor as he went, the glass in their frames exploding upon impact. His swinging foot struck the leg of a cheap end table in his foyer, toppling it and sending the vase it displayed down to shatter against the linoleum. Through his frenzy, Jack remained conscious of the pulsating light which seemed to follow him wherever he went. It was anchored to him somehow, though he was far beyond attempting to find its source.



Jack collided with a hard, flat surface and rebounded, gurgling and reaching out sightlessly. Choked sobs bled through the volcanic ruin above his jawline. His knuckles rapped against drywall and continued searching for something distinguishable. His fingertips ran across a divot, followed by a smooth ridge, followed by another stretch of blank canvasing. His sense of smell had been obliterated, but with each muffled shout, an outpouring of stiflingly hot gas rose from inside of him and clawed at his flesh. He felt it light on his scalp, where most of his hair had already fallen away. He was an unwitting, unwilling host to poisons the likes of which humanity had never seen, and yet he carried on with his futile attempts to escape and find aid.



Coldness licked at his palm. In his frantic state, Jack was unable to take hold of it. The growing light was all that was still visible to him through the murky darkness beneath his eyelids.


He pawed and raked and felt along, searching like a wild beast for scraps in the underbrush. His fingertips brushed against something smooth and cool to the touch; a protrusion stuck out from whatever wall he had pinned himself against. It slipped easily into his grasp and he clutched at it, momentarily lost as to what it was, before realization dawned. A doorknob.



Unbeknownst to Jonathan Trevor Tate, an additional half-dozen phone calls had been made to the police in tandem with his own call to 911. Outside of his first floor apartment and at the end of the concrete path leading from his front door to the sidewalk, there sat a squad of police officers lying in wait alongside a team of emergency medical personnel. Behind them, a small fleet of police cruisers sat idling, forming a sloppy perimeter around the waiting ambulance. The clamor made by Jack's struggle indoors had alarmed his neighbors, and the sudden frequency of complaints coupled with his frantic, garbled conversation with the 911 dispatcher lead the authorities to fear the worst. They were prepared to quell a domestic disturbance, or a robbery, or an assault. The medics on-scene were tense and poised to rush forward, sure as they were that there would be blood to contain and wounds to bind and clean. There was no conversation amongst them as they waited; only the occasional static of a handheld radio.



The knob turned. A sharp click preceded the door sliding open, inch by inch. It swung on its hinges and swept across the stoop, brushing away loose leaves and twigs. They scuttled across the raised concrete, bursting into flames before their ashes were cast off by the wind.


The police tensed themselves and readied their equipment. The handful of men at the front line widened their stances, ready to rush in at first sign of trouble. They stood just off the lip of the curb, and were the first to see an intense glow pouring out from inside.



Jack emerged and stood on his front porch; obscured by a shroud of blinding golden light. The men waiting for him outside turned and shielded their eyes. Glancing over spread palms and raised forearms, they were unable to discern the light's source, and could not look upon it for long without tears forming in their eyes. It was as if the sun itself had tumbled from the sky and crash landed in the doorway of this small, suburban dwelling.



Underneath the quivering plume of light stood poor Jack T. Tate. Fissures had opened on his skin, and from them flames belched and flickered in the morning air. His mouth and jawline had been burnt away, leaving a gaping hole from which smoke and flaming gases poured and danced. The ruin of his nose and eyes could not be seen under the brightness emanating from his insides. He was no longer conscious, yet his body continued struggling forward in a desperate bid for survival. The light bore through his flesh at multiple points, allowing it to escape in greater and greater volume, until the shape of Jack's ruined body was no longer even partially visible beneath his luminescence. The squad assembled in front of his home was in an uproar: while some fled and retreated to their vehicles, others attempted to approach Jack, despite the hellish temperature he was creating. Orders were barked over the commotion, but few actions were taken as the men watched Jack fighting to reach them. They had no idea what was happening to this man, nor did they know how to help him.



Jack collapsed in front of them almost soundlessly. His crumpled form writhed and twitched, before becoming still. The light began to recede. As it did, the police and medical personnel were able to see the remains of Jack's torso and limbs. He had been reduced to a toppled ashen sculpture, left face down on the ground to break apart and decay. The concrete beneath him was lathered with deep scorch marks. Flames continued to rise from the blackened recesses of his corpse, before disappearing in heavy puffs of smoke. The wind raked at his back and carried off with piles of burnt and disintegrated flesh.



There was silence amongst the authorities gathered. They stared at the pile of dry dust that made up Jack's corpse, fixated and unable to step forward. The light was gone; its host no longer viable. A few men turned to the gutter and vomited. After minutes of hesitation, one man stepped forward. He crouched and tensed his arms, creeping tentatively towards where the body lay for fear that it would reignite. Standing at the corpse's side, the man sunk to his haunches and peered into the vacant pits where Jack's eyes had once been. Thin streams of acrid smoke continued to rise from the sockets. He could barely tolerate the stench permeating the remains, and rose to his feet before cupping his mouth with his hand.



Turning away, the man gave an order to his squad in a shaken voice. He walked towards the street as EMTs scurried past him, refusing to glance over his shoulder at the body one last time, despite feeling an urge to do so. He tried to maintain an air of detachment, but soon found himself puking his guts into the storm drain near his cruiser. Wiping his mouth, he reached into the driver-side window and took hold of his two-way radio without waiting for a diagnosis.


He announced the cause of death as a house fire.




Author's Notes/Comments: 

Been a while since I've posted on here. I've (hopefully temporarily) lost my passion for poetry (having gone back to read old works and realizing that many of them were just... Just awful). Maybe I can keep up with these short stories for a while.

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