And Your Face, in the Mirror?

This is a poem structure of Louise Gluck’s, I copied the italics and answered the questions my way, and in this new draft, I am contrasting my old perspective when I wrote this with my perspective now. It has changed drastically-since the first draft of this poem two years ago. You can read the first, old draft here, from when I was in that dark space. Now for the new one:


“Are you healed or do you only think you’re healed?”

I told myself it is

terrible and beautiful

to survive.

Believing it might make me so,

with whatever limitations I

guided myself by.



“But can you love anyone yet?”

I slipped across mirrors,

always mirrors.

I was only yet learning

my reflection, a face

I didn’t know.



“But will you touch anyone?”


I told myself

if I have nothing,

that’s what comes back.

I touched my body

in the mirror,

examined its rounds

and edges, the skin

an …other. Read More


This body’s breath
caught sharp and held

I hold it and like water
it escapes my fingers and spills
over my toes
when I am thirsty
asking too much from my body
when I am not enough

I give it tea and fruit and poisons
I exhale the fumes of the vices
herbal or smoky and fine
licking at these wet fingers
that let a pen scratch
let a word be plucked
from a curl of steam

this body’s breath
will learn it can’t hold what is borrowed

and maybe then stop
cupping and drinking
hold and take nothing
it’s enough just to breathe

let the vices unthread from the seams
of the spine into origami wings
taking flight in paper vees
and leave me in the water




Real Toad’s Saturday prompt on “Remains”

A Sculpture of Me

Me and Mike on the right



My best friend and artist/sculptor Mike made this of me–a portrait of my madness.   He says it’s not

quite finished yet, a few more fixes and then firing it and glazing… He was inspired to make it after I explained to him what it was really like to be psychotic, and he made it for me.  When I saw it I cried pretty good.  No one knows me in the way that he does.  I’ve written about him before in poems and essays (check out my essay on him: Matters of Time and my poem: Mike)–the artist with severe rheumatoid arthritis (has had many major joints replaced: knees, hips, shoulders…) and he’ll be putting

up a blog soon to show his art and his struggles.  Here’s the sculpture of me!!

The Center’s Keep

The Center’s Keep

There are slights–these subtle moments,
in between–that I forget I’m looking for.
There’s no perfume or intention to stumble me
but, if my head’s quiet enough, I see that
inside the folds of my many faces there’s an
opening. I know it’s legit if the “we” turns to “I”
and the disaster of compulsions falls to a floor
and I’m left without all my chemistry clogging
the way
And for a brief moment
my head ends
and I begin
and for the sweetest moment
I am my center.
It’s enough to get me by
as I try try to hold the gravity
yet once I seek what keeps me
I lose.

(taken from


Lesson #1 Since Recovery: Journal: Story: Shutting Self off so I Can Reach It

Photo at Etsy

Listen While You Read: One and Only, Adele:

or Otis Redding Cigarettes and Coffee:

or Black Coffee (Peggy Lee):

I see I’ll be sitting under a menagerie of oaks, the canopy of green over the park. Emma will be older, playing, resilient, maybe even better. Because maybe I will be. But something will be missing. SOmthing I can finally put a finger on and label and recongize the associated emotion and feel it. It’s overwhelming, the emotions. I will be at my peak of my game yes, healthy, living, working, and God, laughing again. Picking flowers and planting them, making friends, writing, singing, traveling when I can afford it. And when I am alone on a more balanced plank of moods I love and need to be myself, I will feel in my chest what I feel now, what I felt when he said he was leaving, when he last kissed me and shut the door, when he knew to understate my emotions and hold me alittle longer but not too much or I start making fun of one of us. I wanted to tell him so much. It had been almost nine years, our daughter, seven. He was my only friend there too. My best friend. No one so opposite from what I am could get me more–understanding what I do before I do it, and opening his arms to consequence. He never treated me like I was “special” when I got really sick, hell I’d been sick the previous ten years with chronic, complex PTSD. He never knew me healthy. Huh, me either. I’m truly starting over here, alone, and I’m terrified. I could never…NEVER…tell him how much I loved him. I couldn’t feel him when he touched me due to my own past traumas. I could never see passed myself, I could never see this gentle, kind-hearted man who took on quite a case–me. And I exhausted the inexhaustable out. And here I sit alone, crying. Christ. This is not a pity therapy bullshit journal, it is a “piece” of shit to help me figure out who I am, what my emotions are. You want to know who I really am? Put my fingers on the damn keyboard cuz’ I don’t fucking know. Sorry anyway, hang on kinda jump back into that flowing void of my thought-strings that’s playing Adele and Cat Stevens. Man they are the tears. Anyway. I told him I loved him, and that I felt he deserved to be with someone who was emotionally capable of showing him that love every day, because I couldn’t. No matter how bad I always did. No matter how many times I’d turn the corner and cry, wipe it away, and change the subject. I believed it was weak to cry in front of him; no; I believed if he saw me emotional then I was…real. Vulnerable. I had to be stone, even after so many years with him. He couldn’t melt me down. I had to. But what he did do was by his very own shining character I was able to see what he was missing from me, what he deserved. What I was incapalble of. I tried. I tried to kiss, to say the I Love Yous, to say sweet things, to hold hands. We had nothing in common. We had everything in common except stuff. He has never known me well, all this time, except for this last half a year, and I can still barely say “I love you, take me back, I’ll be better” because I know he can’t do it. He can’t do it anymore and I don’t blame him. The thing is it IS DIFFERENT this time. I’m a new person. I’ve never been this person. I’m taking babysteps. I’m whole, not fractured. I have an identity, which, let me tell you, is a fucking handy thing to have. I can’t stress that one enough. Had I had one ten plus years ago, I would be married…right? Does everything happen for a reason? When I’m not with him there are parts of me, old parts of me, that wakes up–my music, my singing, my art, my charcoals, my drawings and portraits, my photography, my CURIOUSITY, my oldest, closest friends, traveling, and I’m becoming quite political. I’m waking up to a world OUTSIDE OF MYSELF AND IT’S LIKE THANK GOD WHERE THE HELL WAS I AND WHY DID I GO???!!! But the thing is he is not why I slept through myself, I was too sick to live inside myself, and it all accumulated and came busting through in one horrible year of ptsd, psychosis, bipolar, and dissociative states that wore us to the grind. He had all the financial burdens plus learning how to help me. He still doesn’t talk about those days. I feel three things. Guilt. Selfish. Alone. I don’t know why and no I’m not gonna explore it there’s too much to say here and I have to figure how to get it out.

His family has never known the healthy side of me either, and I’m afraid to show it to them. Well I was, but he’s gone now, it’s over, it’s time to grow up and move on and only return to each other if we don’t find what we’re looking for out there. His family is close and loud and they’re ALWAYS laughing and doing things together but what I mostly loved about them was how they cared for eachother–there were no strings attached to each other, they simply love each other and are there. They’re not forced to feel bad about themselves and others, guilty, judging, it could go on and on…as it was in, well, my family. I wanted my mother to love me the way Justin’s (that’s his names) mom loved him every time he walked into the room. So here I’d just like to say, that even though I do think his mom is not too crazy about me (i also used to be helplessly paranoid and it’s hard to shake on certain attitudes), I think she’s lovely, with a huge heart. And maybe I don’t blame her for possible negativity towards me, I’ve put her son (well, my illnesses and my perpetrators did) through the mill and he does so much for me and I can barely utter a meaningful thank you. I wish I could tell her all the times I cried just because I loved him so much and couldn’t tell him. Given the chance again, could I do it? I DON’T KNOW. How am I buildt? Is Chronic, Complex PTSD forever? I know scars are. I know bipolar is. I wish I could just hug that lady and tell her “thank you” for raising such a wonderful, amazing, stand-up, real man, a real friend, a kind, very thoughtful, compassionate, peaceful person who’d give the shirt off his back but spot a scam a mile away somehow. Anyways. I think I’m rambling. His dad, now, his dad is the dad I used to dream I’d have as my dad. He’s fricking hilarious, he pretty much lives at his cabin by the Pike Chain Lakes, fishing IS HIS LIFE. We used to have some pretty good parties at the cabin, earlier on. After Emma was born, I see that I slowly, gradually slunk inwards into myself, away from everybody. Instead of growing closer to his family, I got farther, and I know that bothered him as much as it bothered me. But they were alll so healthy and sane and I just wanted them to approve of me, to say “Hey, you can have a good family too”. Ahh well. His siblings aren’t that fond of me and I totally don’t blame them. How could they have ever known what a wreck I was beneath it all? And I played off my illness to Justin as if it were a joke. I wanted him to see me as smart and cynical, instead of flooding with emotions–more like drowning in them. I was humiliated by my mental illness “stigmas”. One of his sister’s husbands pretty much said i was too damn lazy to work and I was beating Justin down to a pulp because I didn’t want to work or some shit like that. Yeah Doug you. Ass. But a part of me felt like he was right–only for the last year I COULDN’T work because I was afraid of everything, the flashbacks were starting, psychosis, blah blah blah. But in the part I felt he was right about–I was “something” to go back to work. And as I got better little by little I realized I was afraid to work: I was afraid of change, I was afraid of people making fun of my weight, but mainly it meant it was time to begin. Time to begin to start building this life, from the ground work up, all over, all new materials, all new. And that’s scary.

So coinciding with this change is his change as well. He left yesterday for North Dakota. Probably for two years I’m guessing. We sat down one day (after we had originally split when I was still pretty sick but too much for him by then) and discussed how we weren’t living our lives, we weren’t living them together, neither of us were doing anything remotely close to what we wanted to do with our lives. He wanted to make money and get a headstart so he could come back to Ashland and start his family life with Emma in our hometown. My plan was to move three hours away to my sisters and niece. I always felt better there, alive, wanting to do stuff, meet people. But now that Spring’s here (I was going to move in June), one of my sisters might not be there, and I’d have no help with Emma, all her family and cousins would be back home. I don’t know. I’m probably not going to move. Yet. Which is a downer. But I start my classes not soon enough.

Back to the bench from the beginning. I’ll be sitting there, watching Emma play with her cousin. I’ll be alive, inside a real, whole, healthy body, respected body, a fighting body. I won’t be seeking anyone. I believe we find who we’re “meant to be” with through our journies–our choices and our rhythms lead us to them, it’s only natural. Maybe there’ll be no one. I wonder if I’ll be off most my meds by then… It’s quite fine if I’m alone, because I don’t feel alone anymore. I was alone my entire life, until I broke, and someone loved me enough to try to help me pack myself back together, to stop the flooding. We were a good team. I know that, twenty years from now, should it return, I could (though I wouldn’t) call him and tell him the signal “It’s coming” and he’d show up ready to be there. This time, his leaving, meant a little bit of everything. He’s urging me to move to be happy. He says he’ll never leave here. I love him but somewhere hidden inside I’ve somehow let him go. And it hurts. Hurts like a bitch. Life has to happen, and lots of it, before we could ever be whatever it is that we could be. The strange thing is, if I hadn’t been sick and abused my entire life, I wonder, where would I be? What would I look like? Would I have friends? Would I be singing? Would I be doing what I love most–writing? No. I don’t think so. What the fuck would I have experienced and learned in order to write about it? I wouldn’t take it all back for a “normal” life. We crazy-asses have sunshine, too, and let me tell you our good days are a hell of a lot better than yours! I’m not sure who I”m directing that too. White space. I’m trying to tell myself to stop being afraid. Everything I ever had to be afraid of already happened. So fn’ relax. That’s true. But I’m impulsive and maybe the smallest percent neurotic so my minds imagines big fears, big ones. Stupid. But big. I’ll write more later. Summary: I have a well-deserved heart-ache due to the loss of a dearly lloved one though who deserves it–is not so much me as the situation. What you gonna do?

AlisonTyne on Etsy
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Ali Farka Toure’s
“Ai Du“: