a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
even suicide is something i fail at (every time, every night, every fear come alive) by Anoushka Swaminathan
[Content warning: suicidal ideation]
and every night i go to sleep
and every night i awaken
and with each quickening breath i call for a God
who i have not believed in for so long
(and i wonder: did He ever believe in me?)
the dim fluorescent lights noisily pulse out a yellow-orange pattern into the violent liquid night, while
i watch your jaundice yellow teeth that grin sharp & wet & sinister
carelessly frame your mouth to fill it with sordid sin:
where else but beneath the chipped skin of your lips
i'm drinking orange juice with a hint of white wine* while skipping class
because i hate everything. i'm crying while reading fairytales
about communism and i'm running
even though it's excruciating.
then (i'm not sure when, but 2020)
it was the first time i was home alone since the pandemic started
and the first time i drank beer of my own accord. i blasted my music and sat on the floor
in the dark. so what's new?
then (i'm four i think)
all i can smell is his cologne and dirty laundry and all i can see is the pile
of stuffed animals and none of this future. he's playing his music and i know the words.
it's the first time i feel real.
now (somewhere around 2022, but that's beyond me)
i don't know what's real and what's a lie. music can't save me anymore and i'm
resorting to people who i don't know and things i don't need. reality is faltering but i
guess i decided this morning that i'm okay with that.
then (the depths of despair)
was i okay with it? we'll never know but i surely didn't accept it yet.
that was a time where i lost track of myself and all that could keep me grounded was the
devil. they say i'm religious, but i'm not sure about that anymore; either because of the
illegality or the fact that false pretenses are my purview, no longer god.
i don't believe in god or magic.
but i believe in fate.
he must be real, right? but i can let it slide if we're the only things
(creatures) that are.
now (the future)
i think i'm real.
but i also think nothing is.
so i keep drinking my orange juice*
and singing my stories
until i can find the true art
of being real.
*or maybe it's white wine with a hint of orange juice
what a carnal act chewing is, to turn my mouth violent around matter;
to expose my ceramic insides and flush with guilt. and God, what hubris
I must have, to revolve the sun around my tongue and not swallow,
The sun seems brighter now,
The air seems warmer.
The birds were louder then,
The wind blew more.
I forget how the salt from the ocean burned my eyes,
Or how it made my skin dry.
The taste so potent it is hard to forget.
The sun colors my hair a brighter blonde.
I remember feeling at peace,
but it seems better now than it was before.
the ocean calls out my name in its hushed song; the waves
breaking and bending over crested shore to return to primordial origin, while i return
again to the look on your face as i grasped for what was left of my skin and bones; rotting,
all rotting away; rotting to begin anew, like fertilizer in overgrown soil; the bone-dry dirt
When they’re not home
The house becomes a chance
To be a world ahead
A chance to hold you
And love you
And live us
[Content warning: eating disorders and self-harm]
i hate having a body.
really, i do.
and not in the way you may think.
i don’t hate the way shoulders look,
or think my feet are shaped odd,
or think my thighs are disproportionate to my hips.
[Content warning: domestic abuse and violence]
I know you better than you do yourself
Happy clean pictures don't do you justice
The polished mirror doesn't show how you look
The true charm is through the blurry screen
Teary eyes knows what it has seen
[Content warning: self hatred, scars, body dysmorphia, intentional starving]
I avoid mirrors now, say some with their scars, but
I crave mirrors, so I can feel pretty when I maybe am (when I don’t anywhere else)
I crave mirrors, so I can look and have someone actually look back
Did I write myself too softly instead of deranged?
There are no qualms between devil and divinity,
for I am either God or a Fool.
And though the soap I wash with
is scented Milk and Honey,
these hands are certainly not holy.
i’m not pretty. my face is too wide, my nose too big, and my hair is far too weak to take
but once upon a time my words were enough. if i picked up the pen and let my hand
go wild it was enough. peeling off the chains on my tongue was enough to make them
smile and nod. when i first opened my mouth, it could fight invisible dragons without a
I came from a land of swirling, colorful paintbrush strokes
From smooth, grass fields like vast, green carpets rolled out over the
Earth From the soft, gentle twang of our flowing music, our beautiful language
From dense, diverse forests, soaring mountains, and roaring rivers
I found a rubbing tine last Valentine's
bouncing under rubbish brush in the Californian
gob of a Sun. It asked: When did you last feel clean bone, hun? When
did you last pass your hand across a piercing point and
remember that Icarus
became his own grave?
as the poet relinquishes
her hold on biblical blamelessness;
grab the scalpel.
carve the line.
hold the gingham-pressed girls
tight beneath little hyacinth blooms-
fluorescent flickers inside.
Each word you spoke, each thorn you flung
Used to pierce my fragile heart
Each string of happiness hanging on
By the force of dreams in the silence
Yearning for more stillness and delusion
Before carving ( yesterday / Monday morning / this moment
but one year later / the curtains
where dust &
shadow stop waltzing ) into
birthday party / the Autumn breeze
from Greek κάθαρσις, the notion of ‘release’ through drama (catharsis (sense 1)) derives from Aristotle's Poetics.
the gods speak of me in whispers
say I am selfish
because I cannot
hold this unfettered
tongue (it is a dangerous thing / child / to be this loud)
There is this one line my dad would always sing
After spending hours under the glistening Florida sun
Sand in my hair, salty air, running into the water just for fun
He told me that the waves knew every thing,
They were full of questions and answers to anything
last week, i sat on the curb between our two houses
i lit a red and thought of
you and summer and my brother’s crashed car and everything
else that once lived right there where i sat.
there is an old man
who drags his lute
up to the mountain, sits
under the temple roof
and plays his heart out:
strained chords, from the
of his fingers and string
as we walk past and wince.
[Content warning: child abuse, violence]
You could have felt safe in your own skin.
Razor blades in your throat and nowhere to go,
dragged out by the collar
squirming and unhappy,
from the cardboard box in which you used to hide
inspired by that SpongeBob episode:
The familiar hand that
wraps around your throat,
pins you flat and pushes
breath from your body.
Even if you are
A God, there is still eternity before daybreak.
There is still no way to tell your flesh from mine, coalescing into a cityscape of
The forgotten; their children cry in your bosom and young girls fuse themselves
They say the fairest thing in life is death
but it’s a lie, isn’t it? Like “I did my
homework” or “I’ll be home by dusk”—
he was seventeen,
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.