Liz climbed onto examination table
for ultrasound one June morning –
grainy images of growing fetus,
its big head and tiny legs,
swoosh of heartbeat unusually relaxed.
To carry pregnancy to term meant
hitting jackpot, could let herself believe
she was finally to be mom.
She was due week before Christmas.
Her husband kept eyes glued to screen
as technician slid wand across belly.
She held breath, waited
for familiar to fill room.
Technician stopped suddenly,
set down wand. Doctor said, I’m so sorry. There’s no heartbeat.
For next weeks, couldn’t stop crying.
[NOTE: Found/blackout poem crafted from a TIME article titled “Someone I Loved Was Never Born” as written by Sarah Elizabeth Richards about the shame and secrecy that shrouds miscarriages.]
Toward the end of this senior year,
Daniel began to slip into a world
of paranoia, evil spirits, and voices in his head.
The worst part, says mother, watch him suffer and refuse treatment, little choice but to care for him as he deteriorated, as an imminent danger to himself, others.
Daniel was hospitalized at least nine times
over the course of four years,
almost always released after days. He’d dump his medication at the door, and the process would start all again.
The last time, having declined
into a floridly psychotic condition,
Daniel wandered into a leafy neighborhood,
encountered a 67-year-old retiree,
and beat him to death with a flowerpot.
He has become a tragic touchstone,
yet another in a string of young men with mental illness killed dozens.
And every time one version of the same ensues –
ailed Americans blame the mental-health system
for failing deinstitutionalization.
Disagreements catalyze a civil war in the community –
a distraction – no more likely to be better predictor
of who will pull trigger next.
[NOTE: Found/blackout poem crafted from a TIME article titled “Dangerous Cases” as written by Haley Sweetland Edwards about laws designed to compel those with serious mental illness into treatment.]
Yesterday, my poetry hit a huge huge huge milestone. Some of my words were selected to be published on RATTLE (an amazing, major publication) as one of the two June winners of its monthly Ekphrastic Challenge! (My poem was picked out of 141 total submissions, in case you’re curious about playing the odds game yourself.)
After trying to make this poetry thing a thing for a while now, getting this sort of major affirmation was so gratifying, and I’m immensely grateful. And since getting published only begets more publishing, and I’m pumped to see what other and more doors this may open for my writing. Thank you for reading with me as my writing continues to grow and spread.
Click the link below to read the poem itself and the accompanying, super flattering comment on why the photographer, Alisa Golden, chose my poem.
I want to cry
soul open like steel
you can watch
the shadows always reveal
the sweetest light
heaving from tiny eyes.
Your frantic embrace
could blaze this ocean
lick the spring dry
but the water will find me
linger at my lowest
and never ask why.