Tag Archives: bipolar disorder

Happiness Above Angel Fire

The brand name
of a new psychiatric medication
floats in the commercial air
over a valley on the TV

I think I recognize
from a long ago trip
to the Enchanted Circle
of New Mexico.

Under that in parentheses
a generic name like a second,
awkward bird overflying the green valley 
in the bowl of the mountains.

It’s probably not
the valley I remember
of course. Too long ago
to be certain. Too many

prescriptions of my own
between the enchantment
of that place and these latest 
pills to promise more. 

Last Clear Spot

Waking up
Song in my heart no one cares to hear

stick a gun in my mouth
put a razor on my wrist
pile the pills by the bedside
pick them up
clench your fist

A song like black mold closing upon
the last clear spot on my white wall

stick a gun in my mouth
put a razor on my wrist
pile the pills by the bedside
pick them up
clench your fist

Everyone’s sure I’m insane
I’ll stare at the spot till they stop wondering

stick a gun in my mouth
put a razor on my wrist
pile the pills by the bedside
pick them up
clench your fist

It’s a way of pinpointing hope in darkness
when the rest of the song is drowning it

Be back soon

Just getting through some stuff. Back soon. Sorry about the delay.


Bipolar Nights

To sit up all night
crying because no one asked you 
what you meant by something you said
that was thrown away by the listeners
in the flow of conversation

is to lie down in a field knowing
that you may look like a corpse
but since no one sees you out there
no one comes to see
if you are still alive.

To sit up all night
wondering why no one gets
any of your subtlety
when you metaphorically
gesture at your temple with a finger gun

then laugh it off as a joke
is to live in a ghost town
and one day fall into an old well,
breaking your self against the rock walls,
screaming for anyone other than a ghost to come.

To sit up all night
pretending to love yourself no matter
what you are or have been in the hope
that anyone seeing your effort will offer
to love you without condition

is to rise to the surface sputtering and choking
ten feet from shore, already beginning to sink again
but telling yourself the rising will continue until you
are high above the water in full flight
toward the stars.

Long Term Prognosis

From a study by researchers at the University of Oxford, 2014: “The average reduction in life expectancy in people with bipolar disorder is between nine and 20 years, while it is 10 to 20 years for schizophrenia, between nine and 24 years for drug and alcohol abuse, and around seven to 11 years for recurrent depression.”


Wave I’ve ridden
since I was fifteen

lifts me into
a teary dream
in the dark, in bed.

Wave full of shapes,
threats, teeth;

wave that raised me.

Tears in the dark,
stifled tears increasing
the height of the wave;
within it the shapes, the teeth, 
the cold hunger 
I have pretended to love.


is just another 
shape in cold water,
something frightening
I can’t see, beyond
the trough of this wave,
coming in the next one
or the next, or never coming
at all.

Wave I’ve ridden
from teens to now.
Wave I ride is 
fifty-eight miles long
and counting. 

Doctors once said
it would fade

as I aged. Said the wave
would crest, that I’d make
landfall soon enough.


more shapes under 
the crest of the wave. More teeth
to cut into me.

Wave I’ve ridden since
I was young elevates me into
fearsome visibility under
a moon that will not eclipse
or take pity.

Lunatic, I call myself, lunatic
surfing horror waves
under the sobbing moon,
the laughing moon.

Waves upend me 
in the dark, in night.
Upside down,


You’re not supposed
to be still up there
crying on the crest
of a wave,
say the better surfers.

Fifty-eight years in? I know this.

Fifty-eight years
in this surf, still can’t see

May be
time at last

to smash down,
to fall into those teeth,

to drown.

The Thoughts

Crowded in here,
say the thoughts. We’re not big
but we are legion and 
we jostle. We can’t get out
of each other’s way.

Let us out,
say the thoughts.  Let us
see the light of day and choose
whether to come back in here
or to vanish. Perhaps we are foolish,

perhaps we are destructive or
so wrong that we can’t even
be considered thoughts at all
but we won’t know until you let us out
and let us be seen and see ourselves —

I put my head down 
close my eyes,
cover my mouth and
nose so nothing
gets out.

Phew! It’s getting stuffy in here,
say the thoughts. Man, you’re killing us.
You can’t stay like this forever, you know. 
You’ll lose it eventually. Let us fly
or we’ll die. Yes, you too.