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This collection embodies raw emotion and struggles with Mental Illness and Identity. They are my most personal poems and demonstrate the journey I have had with my own mental health, as it has fluctuated over the years and responded to the environments and situations I have been in. They demonstrate the lowest moments of my life and the fragility I have felt within myself.

It is important for me to express how I feel through poetry because I find it hard to talk to others. For me, it has opened up a conversation that I was scared to have and allows me to reflect on how far I have come in my Mental Health journey - I hope to inspire others to do the same.

Slowly (2018)

 

If self-deprivation was a hobby,

she would be an artist

and the paint strokes

would be her tears.

Waterworks, watercolours

make the painting complete

and viewers, near and far

appreciating sombre,

as if they were approaching

fear.

 

(But without the cataclysms of broken

nights and melancholy laughter,

only spectators to madness).

 

If self-harm was a game

she would be a player

in the gambling fields of Las Vegas.

Rolling, throwing and spinning dice

with the Devil on her shoulder.

And the angel,

having lost its morals,

takes the back-seat, grinning from ear-to-ear.

Basking in the formality of exchange between

deep-set whispers cemented in her mind.

And yet, most peculiar, the shadow

who lies fondly behind her

sits up, walks and perches over.

Then, a sharp cut creates a fondness

for the girl who glances after.

 

But the pain is as sweet

as a cyanide-kiss.

As warm as hands around your neck;

impressions of fingertips.

As delicate as death is to a dying bird

whose neck is broken.

Sorrow no further apart

than sea is to sand.

Slowly breaking, day-by-day;

and as the sun dies

it is born again into a solemn world

with rain, and thunder, and hail

and an unbreakable darkness

with light shining only dimly,

cascading deep shadows and shapes

and reflections.

But if self-love was a person

it'd be a stranger.

Passed in the street, in the park,

on the cross-bridge between

road and water.

In a face of an old woman,

who weary and tired,

drapes her hands heavy by her side,

thick with the handles of plastic bags

filled with food; food for one, only one.

In a man, whose hoodie

shielded you from the sight of his sadness,

and blinded you to avoid him,

fearful of the stereotypes

that you made mockery of.

 

But the only friend you know is

in the mirror, the shattered splinters;

the icy glare; the warped reflection.

The fear in your lungs, coating your breath

with thick blood and water.

The wild-kiss of loneliness stiff in your joints,

frost in your muscles, winter in your bones

and you lay stuck on that bed, never to move,

only to drown-alone.

With only your scarred hand to hold.

 

And the Devil on your shoulder.

Sleeping With Noise (2018)

 

When sleep comes it comes with promises;

fulfilment for a mind tired,

broken

and too alive.

Sleep tight dear heart.

Awake with morning,

rise with the sun.

Yet,

all I do is sleep.

Tired mind, no rest for the weak.

But all I do is sleep.

Moments change when my head upon my pillow,

rested, falls asleep.

My mind alive with pictures, falling deeper.

Consciousness forgotten.

Dreaming-

Dreaming.

 

Wait, am I dreaming or dying?

My body filled with nightmares,

sweating,

paralysed,

eyes open,

dark shadows,

panicking.

 

Falling again. No rest for the wicked.

I do not wake. I am never awake.

What is living?

If I cannot escape to the moving pictures,

I am not living.

So I choose to sleep, where the worlds are only mine.

Better than life.

Filled with better people,

better feelings,

better thoughts.

 

But still filled with noise.

A Call for Light (2018)

 

The cold, harsh winter.

The piercing touch of rain

but the glimmer of the sunshine

escaping through the window pane

barely touches me.

 

Hardly there at all,

but there all the same:

Invisibility

not a mask, nor a superpower

nor a way to escape the dreaded sting of time,

staring eyes, staring right through me.

 

Anonymity cannot save me from the daytime,

cannot spare me in the night

where the moonlight never reaches me.

 

Translucency cannot keep me in the picture,

not even in the dark-wood of the frame

or the nail, struck hard, grasping the wall.

I cannot even be the dents in the plaster

where paintings, defeated in battle, give way

and fall, crash onto the floor.

 

Not even the glass splinters, that scattered

dare to slash, gash, cut and prick.

Invisibility does not allow my scars to remain

on those that endeavour to pick me up.

 

Does not allow me to make my mark,

scratch out my name onto their skin;

their hands; their hearts.

 

It is not my virtue, not my weight

nor my choice, but certainly my fate;

it is my mockery and my oppressor,

 

yet it thrives in my blood,

occupies my face, breathes my lungs,

Beats in vain for it is my name.

 

I beg you light

unwrap my crystalline.

Thaw my transparency.

Burn my cellophane;

bless me bright, aglow, even hazy.

Gift me luminosity, brilliance, cloudiness,

radiance-but I fear-do not turn me into shade.

A Death Through Poetry (2017)

Unlocking the door and there you see a figure not meant for your

innocent eyes,

                drowned in blood disguised,

arms cut so deeply by scars.

I'm sorry that this is the way you were greeted with goodbye;

                 pale broken lips and stone-cold eyes.

I'm sorry that when you lifted up that lifeless hand braided in scars,

                you saw the bracelet only bought six weeks before. Birthday gift.

That painted silver-red token of your love now only paraded in the deep, dark grief on the arm you once touched,

warm

Unsevered

Unburned

Unhurt.

I'm sorry that if it had been another way it would have been body parts,

                   scattered,

                                   concrete ground. Head half-bashed in and hardly recognisable.

Or body lying on a bed, not half asleep,

                                                               resting.

Pile of sick near the mouth you once kissed.

While the pills do their bidding. Unleashing poison into veins.

Sure enough to grasp her before you reach the hospital.

I'm sorry that I reached for the knife rather than the phone to call you,

                 and when matchsticks burned I'd rather consider their flame than your words.

I'm sorry that in life

I was no more living than in death.

That I chose to shake hands with darkness rather than enveloping in your hug.

And in my distress chose to remain silent.

Giving you no more than a whisper when you asked how I was,

               or shook my head,

                                            glanced away,

                                                                  and disappeared.

No knowledge of the demons lurking in my breath.

And how I breathed sharply in sleep,

face salty,

wet,

from shards of my despair crying

'I cannot take this anymore'

and never letting you hear.

I'm sorry that girl you'd grown to love

died long before

her longest friend.

                 Left someone cast in shadows; ghosts, monsters

                 under the bed she never left.

And that my alibi:

I'm tired,

I'm sick,

I'm busy

was all you knew.

Sorry through your words, sorry through your lies to try and aid me

'You'll be alright."

I had only come to know:

                                          emptiness.

                                                            Sorrow.

                                                                         Pain.

Forgetting you could feel it too.

But I felt it in suffocation, drowning, burning.

Inches too deep,

thick, lungs,

heartache, pain.

Panic-

Restrain. Break. Restrain. Break

Panic again.

 

Sorry I could not save me.

Sorry that you tried.

Sorry you will never know exactly

when I died.

 

But I am not sorry

That I am living now. 

Paper Bird (2017)

It's like you're broken glass

and the shards, they last.

You're going to die one day,

might as well make it fast.

Just reach for the knife,

turn off the light,

and take one breath

as you take your life.

No point in living

another day.

Might as well stay away

from the happy memories

that flood your way.

Come on, bring it on

you just don't belong.

You better end it now

before they steal your song.

Little songbird cry,

let's hear your sound.

Better sing real high

before they knock you down.

Oh too late, you're like a

paperweight

holding everything

so you don't fly away.

Oh wait, you're underground.

Push the soil out.

But it's in your lungs.

Don't breathe-don't breathe.

Stuck. 

Like a magnet to the earth

except you don't work

with the physics of existing. Oh,

you better runaway

before they steal you away.

Oh too late, your body's hurt.

Now, little songbird

make your music. But they turn it off.

Oh too late, they've already broken your record.

Smashed in, like you're paper thin

crumbled paper, in the bin

set alight, burn you up.

Open up, you're fire dust

in the ground, my little paper bird

you're soil now, can't grow back. 

Submerged (2016)

 

I know where you’ve been,

Know where you’ve been hiding.

Somewhere beneath the stars.

Catching your breath at last

And you know that everyone

Has been lost somewhere down the road before.

And you only seem to see the sun

Reflected above the water’s floor.

Then it’s all gone.

Sundown has come

And you’re resting your head on the hard ground

Thinking about times so far now,

Wondering why oceans lie

Their waves upon the shore, crashing down.

 

Heavens nowhere to be seen

And you’re walking down the road that leads

To nothing.

Come clean, you’re alone again.

Slipping beneath the stars

Only one more breath to last

Come clean, you’re lost it seems.

‘But don’t give up now’ you say;

The road to nowhere

Leads to something,

The road to somewhere

Comes from nothing

And your footsteps won’t be forgotten.

 

Come clean, your feet are moving.

 

First step, the birds are talking.

Next step, the sky is calling.

Third step, you’re nearly there now.

Fourth step, the waves are crashing down.

Last step and you’re above the clouds

 

Alone, beyond waters green.

Dead Funny (2016)

 

You killed me in so many ways.

Stood by my grave and laughed,

just laughed.

And they passed false tears down their face,

tore the white flowers from their vase while

you pretended to be sickened by this grief.

This death of such sweet innocence,

that they forgot in life,

oh how you danced around my coffin and laughed.

Just laughed.

Fed the mourners with your forged pity,

while the white bells rung in their heads;

oh the sound of death,

how sweet it must sound to you.

Sickly sweet, but how you forgot.

A ghost can haunt, and that I'll do.

So just remember, before you laugh at me.

Just laugh.

The dead can laugh too.

Closer than Strangers (2016)

 

In the window, the passers by

Look ahead to avert their glance,

Away the whispers become a sound,

a sound no more bearable than a heavy hand.

 

Through the plain and painted glass

The strangers pretend the dark is light,

And shine their lamps in the burning sun

While you tremble in the forgotten shade.

 

Mirrored through the transparent pane

You scream, shout, wail and cry

But the strangers, unaware begin to dance,

So you weep, louder and louder again.

 

But still the strangers don't hear your echoes,

Their feet still embracing the cobbled ground

So in doubt, you begin to copy their feet

Then the strangers turn and behind the window,

There your friends wave and smile.

© 2018 JASMINE ERICE-HARLING.

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Poetry - Fictional Writing - Prose

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