Poetry: quiescent ontogeny (shedding September skin)

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go back some steps and paint the rest the colors they were meant to be.

parasites preventing psychology-
absent sounds without answers, potential apart metamorphosis.
the mistakes were easy,
splitting monochrome apart of the omniscient wind.

and they never learned anything.

I couldn’t escape the quiescence of ontogeny
descending east or west in our
oblivion as nothing-
these spider webs bury dead
under my intuition
ashamed of my own decisions
refusing to light,
but the flicker always subtle in the night,
aggressive how I wanted to make it shine.

we’re butterflies with broken mirrors,
scintillatingly self-reflecting that our deepest fears will never resonate with
the man under the bridge or the
child in Idaho or the
part of my father i never want to see in myself,
but always will.
hand-crafted maps fade because we’re told to abandon
caterpillars
as if this growth was a virus and not a blessing disguised as
thousands of glass shards unlocking doors.
I wanted to know more.

I couldn’t think where my mind begins
it shifts back hollow where I started
blonde curls lost frivolously among the pile of careful maple leaves
you should’ve tried to understand while you
blurred the sharpness of this image,
shades of fuschia indecisions
evading a dream,
incomplete sets of glass menagerie fog when I fall asleep.
shuffling the shutter, parallel to the stress it put me under.
a life repeating its first day,
continuing cabarets
confusing caves in sheep
crystallize
an endless disease.

flowers don’t communicate in binary;
your daisies were fireworks,
mute mutilations of my morbidity,
simultaneously transforming
sheep from tangible reality.
as I felt every strand of indifference-

IT ALL COULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT.

but
our faces yield yellow hues in
both pines needles and piles of
orange maples.

ashamed of where I hadn’t  been
because of the person I have yet to become
knowing what I will never be.
It was strange to see me as a human being
amorphous
feathers drifting incomplete
as crows without grief
circling aware
predicting what I could not escape
luminescent highways miles from fate
time spent
in the essence of these transgressions
pardon me gray.

what can i call colors i see,
branches of the trees from Polaroid memories,
or dreams of what the world should be?
where can i find these answers on this endless canvas,
this bruised, mountainous landscape,
constantly hammering away against our wars with self-abandonment?
what’s the spectrum where
trees and
everyone you’ve ever known that’s felt loss
can sing in harmony?

trapped in my mind,
hope is destiny when it’s not in our plans

running out of time,
the colors will fade as limbs grow thicker

footsteps erase.

mirrors adapt.

This piece is a collaboration between Zachary Johnson and Danny Kochanowski.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

-DK

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A Selection of Poems and Art After Losing My Daughter: Peter Bruun of The New Day Campaign

Below are a selection of poems I’ve written since my daughter, Elisif Janis Bruun, died at age 24 of a heroin overdose on February 11, 2014. The drawings I include to accompany each poem I made recently, and to my mind invoke something of the spirit of the poetry.

Ravaged

Her body
has changed
from wire to round to wire
ravaged
from wild cat life
one unmeasured impulse
and the next
spinning spinning spinning
night through day through night
madness and madness and madness again
her body
has changed
from itself to something else and back again
only now
a softly subtle wilting
to eyes
that love her
wanting her well.

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Boys and Girls

The boy
In the beater
Gold-rimmed mouth
Nacho-chip-orange fingers
Lost eyes
Like a flick of a Bic
Ready to ignite
For another cig.

The girl
Pink thong strap
Above the fringe
Of black spandex pants
So easily pulled down
For a buck
And a fix
Teddy bear on the headboard.

In fluorescent corners
Boys and girls
Change hands
Prey and predator
One and the same
Nobody wins
This dance
Without music
Without chairs.

The Walmart goldfish
Still alive
By the framed photo
Of her son
On Santa’s lap
Wanting something else
Anything else.

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Mercy*

Pleasure
is not what holds me
in your room
life smeared across the floor.

You are
rage and raw
pure love and hot pain
a tender contradiction
neck-high in crap
redemption
against my loss and shame.

I am
no less mess than you
wondering what it is to be a man
worth the ground my little feet displace.

You and me
holding pawed hands
as best we can
mercy with every breath.

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*This is an excerpt from a longer poem


 

Peter Bruun is an artist, curator, and founder of the New Day Campaign, an initiative using art programming and public engagement to challenge stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness and addiction, making the world a more healing place. Learn more by visiting his website at http://www.bruunstudios.com/.

I had the pleasure of meeting Peter at Mental Health America’s 2016 conference this past June. He is not only an extremely talented and compassionate individual, but one of the friendliest people I have ever met. Please check out his amazing artwork and his nonprofit work with The New Day Campaign. It’s good to know how much good there is in the world.

Leave Peter a comment below and always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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A Lens Into Our World dear hope

Poetry: Making it Real by Nicholas Woods

Everyone sees an asshole
A jerk, a loudmouth show off with too many opinions and too many flaws to love
But my mirror shows a scared little boy
Asking where the time went
Asking why did he make the decisions he did
Crying but ashamed of it
Depressed but unable to tell anyone
Anxious but riddled with guilt for having “made up” problems
Lonely when surrounded by people
Overwhelmed with thoughts when alone
My mirror shows a scared child in pain
That doesn’t want to ask for help
Because asking for help means there’s a problem that’s real

Everyone sees a frightened little boy trying to be a man
But my mirror shows a guy, an asshole,
A loudmouth jerk who uses his problems as excuses
An insecure man who writes down his problems
Because the child inside him won’t allow him to bottle it up
And suffocate himself anymore

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This poem comes from Nicholas Woods .You can find more of his poetry on his website, Tumblr, and Instagram page.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Poetry: Giving My Illness a Name

I flirted with death
long before my sadness was given a name
there’s something about being so sad
for so long
that makes it seem like death is the only option

I flirted with death
long before anybody knew about my sadness
there’s something about giving depression a name
that takes it’s power away

some say
giving something a name gives it more power
but I don’t think that is true
because giving depression a name
told me that it wasn’t just me
sent me a message that my sadness wasn’t forever

I flirted with death
long before my sadness was given a name
my depression
it is my depression because I own the illness
it does not own me

R.E


 

Find more poetry from this author on their Tumblr page.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Poetry: An Aspiring Nihilist by Hannah Buckley

An Aspiring Nihilist

An American field ant can withstand pressures up to 5,000 times its body weight
But the step of one shod foot and its killed in an instant
Strength seems irrelevant if you’re dead

A Cross-River Gorilla has opposable thumbs and has a muscled frame that stands over 5 feet
The entire species straddles extinction due to the greed of another cutting down their home
Phalanges perfect for peeling fruit seems useless if your shelter has been stolen

A seemingly healthy 17-year old can drop dead in the middle of the ice during hockey practice
An athletic build and healthy lifestyle do little to alleviate an unknown heart condition
The full scholarship to a Division One school seems less impressive when you’re in a casket underground

Look at yourself from the perspective of the moon and you are nothing

Struggle silently
Or don’t
No one really cares

Repeat the mantra and soak in the hopelessness
Convert the dread to power, use it as fuel
Hedonistically approach each day

It doesn’t matter you failed that test
It doesn’t matter you gained some weight
It doesn’t matter you lost your friend

It doesn’t matter
It doesn’t matter
It doesn’t matter

But it still hurts

 


This poem comes from the talented Hannah Buckley. Follow her on her Instagram here.

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Graduation

Dear Hope started as an assignment, and is now so much more: a community of coping, recovery, addiction, healing, pain, love, loss, transparency, authenticity, doubt, and resilience. Today, I graduate alongside Paul, Amanda, Zach, and so many more souls that have made this community possible. This morning, I reflected on the last four years. The most important lesson I have learned is that there will be people you love that will either water your self-growth to flourish, or stomp on it out of personal pain and insecurity. We all deserve the former, and for when the latter is an unfortunate reality, we are all here for you. This is not a journey to ever be taken alone. Thank you all for growing with us.

i remember how those jeans looked when you put them on one pant leg at a time, and then when both flickered glimmers of future false hope and came together, met with a zipper. you always told me that the mirror was a lot less friendly than reality, but now I’m not so sure that the reflection was an inaccurate piece of diction regarding the color you drain from the world, first in wavelengths smaller than your pinky toe, and then all at once, like a vacuum.

the skies have smiled and cried and wiped up old tears and crusted snot since you left. it seems like i’ve brought every single goddamn cloud to this piece of paper, rain or shine. it’s trite, it’s boring, but it’s the only sick and sad way of coping with losing every drop of precipitation that changed the dry cracks in the ground into sunflowers. i never cared if they were yellow or pink or black and white. they were real.

it’s time to accept that cracked concrete is still concrete and can still grow flowers, even if they are black dahlias or dandelions that the people in my life that have told me that i’ll never be good enough deem to just be common weeds. you can’t drain my life anymore by draining the color from it. your presence is everywhere, but your presence is gone. absence can define, but such a shattered self-perception can’t be cleaned up with only a single pairs of bruised and bleeding hands. i’ve had enough of enclosing the zipper from the hazel-stained, green dream scene on my lips to mute myself.

we survive by love, and today, there is so much love for every memory i’ve ever made. your departure is not my self worth. my departure with those who cared enough to stitch up my infected knees is my self worth. sitting in your Grand Prix before Elm talking about potential and wiping the blood off of blades. listening to Parachutes and smoking enough to forget everyone who ever hurt us. sunshine and werewolves. elevators and Aderall. Canada and Virginia. stone walls, long-distance calls, salvia that looked like fudge, dehydration in Williamsburg, the screen porch at Meadow, and choosing not to print out my suicide notes.

today we evolve because you do not define my evolution anymore. today we evolve because i have a voice that deserves to be heard. we all have stories that deserve to be heard. today we evolve because love will always be the stitches that any of our knees will require, infection or not. we will blossom, in darkness and in light, in color and in absence, in faith and in fear.

no matter how deep the planet decides to cave in, our hands will always be there to help pull you out.

and i’ll never need you for me to be absolutely certain of that
ever again
.

Remember, you are never alone,

and you will always be loved.

DK

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