Each day is spent
At a well with a silvery cedar bucket
On a scraggly strand of rope.
As you cast down your line,
You lean into the well,
Hoping to hear the splash
Of wood on water.

You hear nothing.

The arid wind swims through your hair,
Cracks your tender lips,
And howls dryly. You fish
For a penny in your pocket
And clench the coin
With a single wish for moisture;
Just a drop to wet your tongue.
Tossing your coin, you hear
The kerplunk of liquid too deep to reach.

You poke your head
Into the clammy darkness
And nearly fall. But strangely
You chuckle. Your throaty laughter
Echoes into the well, returning
In a raspy bass voice
Your ears have grown too accustomed to.


Around the Coals

Around the coals decayed
To black, a circle
Of rocks savors
What warmth remains,
What light tests the dark.
The once roaring fire
That charred their rocky sides,
Now a shivering tongue
Coiled in ash.

A faint glow kindles
Off the wind’s whispers.
For a breath
The stony guards smile orange
And their shadows stretch far, far away.

Then crack. Then sizzle.
Then nothing more.
All nights demand
The dark.

The Cognitive Correction

As I continue to suffer and weep in the cold hands of a relentless depression, I have took it upon myself to read a self-help book on cognitive psychology. The book, Feeling Good by David Burns is an excessively long look at the causes and solutions for depression. Although I have completed only about 300 pages of the roughly 700 pages, I can confidently summarize the book here for you. 

From the standpoint of cognitive psychology, emotion and behavior derive from thought. Thus, the cause and solution for depression is thought. Sounds simple. It really is.

See, the problem is that depressed individuals don’t think straight. For example, they think:
1. No one loves me
2. Nothing is going to get better
3. I am totally useless
4. Even that stranger on the street dislikes me

Looking at these examples, let’s see what’s wrong:
1. That’s an exaggeration. Someone must love you
2. That’s an exaggeration and you can’t predict the future. Something will probably get better.
3. That’s an overgeneralization. You have at least some use
4. Unless you can read minds, you don’t know that. And it’s most probable that that stranger didn’t even have an opinion of you.

Make sense? The solution to this distorted thinking is to write down any negative thought and write out how it’s distorted. If you’re simply feeling negatively, then think why you’re feeling that way. According to cognitive psychology, you’re feeling bad because of a thought. So once you realize what that thought is, you can analyze the cognitive distortions.

Keep writing all this analysis out until your mind naturally filters out the bad thoughts and sets you back on the right track. Time-consuming? Perhaps. Tiring? Yeah. But what excuse do you have not to try? Wait! That excuse is a cognitive distortion. You have no excuse!

As for my experiences with this, I’m sure you want me to say I’m cured. Psh, I’d like to say that too. It’s only been a few days, though. Still I feel so weighed down by my emotions that I can barely speak to my own friends, let alone think of something to say to them. Even so, I don’t have any other options. It’s cognitive correction or nothing at all.

Broken Man

If you look in the mirror
Look just look just once
In the mirror look
Again look
There at the man
Blood on his hands
Face fractured
Snapped and
Broken face
In the mirror
Broken face
How sad

He didn’t mean it
Never meant it
Would never mean
Not mean
No not mean
Not a mean man
But his knuckles taste
Like burned glass and iron
And his eyes are
His eyes look

Broken broken man
Still broken
Fix it
Fix it
Please fix it
Too many cracks
Hideous hideous cracks
They stink of festering sin

In the mirror see
See the man
Cracked broken man
Cry broken man
I can’t
I can’t see
Tears shattered against
His eyes
And blood in his nails
Red black blood
Hard blood
Chipping flaking blood
Cracking breaking
Broken man

Bars Between the Trees

Through the wind-wrought forest,
Between slouched birches, peeling,
I found you
With the sun in your teeth,
Eyes cloudless
And silver from the circling
Gates in your gaze.

“Why the bars?” I called,
Still from afar,
Where the dying moss shriveled
Into brown bricks
Mortared to the face
Of the mountainside.

“Not a prison,” I knew,
For her eyes glittered
And laughed with need
Of nothing more.
“A home.”

Home. Mine was in the dirt,
In the mud with the grubs
Nestled against my knees.
Mine was in the velvet dark
In the hollow of a leaf-stripped oak.

Home. “For me?”

A door against the gates,
Locked twice, tight,
And I with no key.
Yet, for me, your dimpled cheeks
Sang more of home
Than all of mother’s
Soft, moonlit songs.

I wrenched oaken limb
From body and oaken body
From root, shaving skin down
To bone while snapping
Piece into piece for a ladder’s wooden form.

And as I laid
My ladder against
The line of silver bars,
It shocked me to see
You on your own above
The gates with a starry glint
In your eye.

I climbed to the top,
Fingers shaking,
Chest throbbing.
You greeted me,
Not with a smile
Or a whispered hello,
But with a kiss.
And another,
Your lips like silk
Sewn into my own

Then ripped into
Tatters. Your dainty, doughy hands lingered
In the air
Like an echoed image
Of your push against
My ladder. So, broken,

I lay down
In the rocky earth.
My cold, lonely home
Welcomed me once again.

The Danger of a Stable Friend Group

You have your four best friends in the world, and together, the five of you are one functional family. No, better than a family. Your friends don’t ever ask you when they’ll get grandchildren. Everything is great. There are no problems, no drama. Everyone is happy. Right?

Maybe. But there’s a lurking danger. When everything is going well, people tend to put their blinders on. Thus, everything is going well and that’s how it’s going to stay. Ignore all potential issues. They’re not there. You guys are better than family. Remember?

Don’t get too comfortable. Every relationship, especially a relationship among five people, requires communication and transparency to stay alive.

Imagine your group as a web. You’re connected to Billy, who’s connected to Janet, who’s connected to Jeb, who’s connected to Boris, who’s connected to Billy, who’s connected to Jeb, who’s connected to you…and so on. You get the point. Everyone is connected to everyone, but each pressure against each connection causes a tremble across the whole web.

Let’s say you’re closer to Boris than anyone else. What happens when you bring two points of a web closer together? You stretch out the connection with other points, causing tension, tension that very well might lead to a snap in the web if the imbalance becomes too severe.

Equality. You need equality. Communicate equally throughout the group. Boris is a great guy, but he is only as valuable as everyone else within the group. See an inequality in the group? Point it out. No one wants to compete for attention or feel left out. You guys are family. You don’t pick favorites in your family.

Actually, just communicate everything. You five are close, but not close enough to read minds. Even if you’re all perceptive people, some knowledge will always hide in the thick fog of privacy. Don’t let potential issues fester. If you see one, if you feel one, tell the group. Know what happens when you ignore a festering wound?