Hello Readers,

Reading is key to writing. You must study the greats to be great. After reading Paul Guest’s poem, User’s Guide to Physical Rehabilitation, a seed rooted in me. This is the poem that emerged. For those that have parental struggles, this is for you. A poem from my collection.

Mental Marasmus

      —after Paul Guest, “User’s Guide to Physical Rehabilitation”


Should the unresolved affliction of being abandoned by your mother

last into adulthood or at least until the chewy mussel gets

easier to swallow or it possible to shuck the sky and toss twilight, 

the mind will contemplate on its own: The why and the wherefores’

and the how come you’re not loveable, which if anyone has declared

war on thought, and thought that this time is the last time

you’d give a shit, but still have those days

where you still incur brooding sessions of mom watching,

or your abandoning caregiver

prophesying an apocalypse of grief inside

what could have been, what should have been

your happy life.

Should you acquire that PTSD malady, a side effect

of mental marasmus, and now your shitpile of trauma

has frozen your childhood memories in short-term memory

like something wild and living unexpectedly trapped in an avalanche

of negativity, and now

you must therapy pick through a glacier

of fucked up memories

you only manage to remember in blaring flashbacks

of feeling: a dust slide of pit-bull voices and snarling mothers,

sewage stench of backed-up shit, glitches the brain processes

like eyes process splashes of color, absorbing the spectrum

all at once, trying to make sense of the blur of shape and color. 

Imagine the triggering, a murmuration

of starlings: sound, place, smell, flapping

in you, and you shrivel into some other self, dissolving,

and memory, a stereopticon of pain piercing images becomes the main show.

Your body embodies the somatic,

frustration’s fist pounds the heavy bag

of your stomach, and acid burns in your throat. You fall to your knees, not in prayer,

sweat geysering, shaking, sobbing, mouth gulping

air, head throbbing, stomach heaving, and control decamps—packs up

sense of time and leaves. My apologies,

for my anxieties when my cognition malfunctions

in my disability to connect to real emotion; some days the psyche slips

off from the soma. Should my disability to function

to your expectations disable you from functioning as your you, dismantle

my brain, and my self will tumble down.

And as for the Ringling Barnum & Bailey circus of therapist—

pill jugglers, antidepressant swappers, mood stabilizing tigers leaping

through rings of fire, monkey shrinks motorcycling in your mental cage,

zooming, circling, wharfing you in the twilight zone of zonked,

assuming higher cognitive functions,

after fifteen years of on and off counseling,

and two years of talk therapy of forthright questions

and evasive answers, with apologies for being assessed like a gemstone

(notating the physical, emotional, and mental patterns of you, determining

your identity and composition) hypnosis a resigned solution,

EMDR,Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

to integrate your separate states of being; a last-ditch effort

to reconnect your emotional with your physical self, to unclog

the clogged drain of negative thoughts blocking your faucet of energy—all the acrobats

of therapy, the trained animals and slapstick clowns

of cognitive behavioral performances are truly, The Greatest Show on Earth.

Should you move on, but ever so often take a few steps

back, let go, reach back to reclaim what you think you’ve lost, scooping

remnants—the what if’s, and maybe’s fodder that keeps you oscillating, and stuck

—paste the paper mache of your psyche to make a globe.

And remember, perception is a bitch that bites. Toss the bone

of reality, and the bitch buries it. What is

becomes what feels like—and in the in-between

is where the self loses itself.

Most importantly,

are metastatic regards of self-healing: cerebral ventures

of spirit traveling to a safe place in the psyche, astral projection (thoughts the pod

of body teleportation), sealing painful images in a mental jar

and setting it on memory’s shelf, and chronic dissociation

when wrestling with what not to say to loved ones

or “normal” people who won’t stop speaking

out of conjecture.

If body movement to music, meditation, and yoga don’t burn

the malignancy of negativity out of you—abnormal growths

multiplying within the cells of self—say, Fuck it.

Make a wish, travel to your Disney World, and make

every goddamn minute of the rest of your life count.


~Marion Thomas




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