Reasons to go on: Poems, part 5

Reason to go on: Survival

Reaching out
Reaching out into the darkness
I catch at emptiness.
Feelings cannot penetrate
the armour plating of my thoughts.

Shh! Don’t breathe a word –
not a syllable to a soul,
share my secret,
take my burden as your own.
Shh! Listen to me –
not a word to pass your lips,
share my secret,
have my troubles as your own.

No-one to share my burden, share my troubles,
help shoulder the crushing weight
off-loaded onto my narrow back.

Shh! Shut down my brain –
just a breath will pass my lips,
extinguished in a silent scream.

Note: people have told me I’m a ‘good listener’ and over the years I’ve been asked for advice. I don’t mind but I do find that this can leave me quite depleted in my reserves to care for myself.

“Just let go,” the joker cried, “I’ll catch you.”
or maybe not, I thought
my mind in conflict;
remembering unsaved falls
deceived acquaintances
who heard the smooth words
and believed.

“I’ll give it back,” the small boy whined, “Just one go.”
but one is never only one
when pleasure leads to broken promise
and one becomes many
without an end
except to friendship
of those who believed.

“Voice inner conflicts,“ the therapist crooned, “I’m here for you.”
and all the others
who picked their way through confessional states
and lonely tracks
into the darkness
who whitewash truths and memories
who try to believe amidst the doubts
but can’t let go

except for me
who countless times have disbelieved
and feared
except for now
the last roll of the die.
I dare to take the proffered trust
and believe again.

Alone, not lonely
Wishing you near
I consider my thoughts
in pictures drawn, poems written.

They clear my mind:
supplanting emotions
I need to explore.

Wishing you near
I muse on our successes
of secrets shared, evils revealed.

We have been one:
reciprocal factors on
the balance of my fractured mind.


‘You got yourself through it.’ No faint praise,
when surviving each moment fills my days.
When each simple stumble costs so much
in terms of my losing that caring touch.
A stroke, not a scratch, across thin skin.
A caress, not a cut. Surely that’s no sin.
More often than not, evil will strike,
with a kiss from a blade when I’ve no more fight.
I watch as the stream of crimson pearls
Bursts up through flesh severed, and out unfurls.
My mind slowly clears as each fresh drop
merges and thickens, until I can stop.
I cannot ignore, and go unscathed,
the criss-cross of scars shows the path I’ve trailed.
I won’t always get through it, but I’ll fight all the way
to become a survivor of each new day.

Note: There was a great night nurse, Jean. On a day that I had decided to overdose while off the ward she happened to be working days; she told me later that as soon as she unlocked the door for me she could see from the look in my eyes what I’d done. I was taken by ambulance to the closest A&E.
This poem begins with the exact words she said to me after the event when I was back on the road to wellness.