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The Pill

The bottle stares back at her, filled

with pills–so small, to change so much

and she hesitates. what if–

what if it doesn’t work

if nothing changes

if she is still


what if she can’t escape

the prison of her own brain

the nervous system that tells her run

as she stands frozen


inside her own body


by all the choices


and she hesitates. what if–

what if this is it

the final tipping point

in the battle between her and it

‘it’ she says. her illness.

hers only in the sense

that a captor is yours

her anxiety. her abuser. her nightmare.

a thing separate from her

and yet so very close

sliding under her skin

wrapped around her heart

breathing with her lungs

and what if this pill

that is supposed to help

what if this is the thing

that finally gives it the upper hand

“side effects include depression

and suicidal thoughts,” it says

what if she will never escape

what if this is the thing that will turn her cage

into a coffin

what if the only way this ends

is in death

what if it squeezes her heart like a python

rips out from under her skin

drowns her lungs in vacant tears

how can you tell when it gets worse

what if you can’t

what if–

and she hesitates. what if–

what if the anxiety is what has made her special

what if the words she has are actually a gift from it

what if the medicine works

and the final ‘screw you’ from

her anxiety, her nightmare, her dementor, her little death

is her words leaving

leaving her alone

what will be left when the fear is gone?

what is she apart from her companion

her little death wrapped around her heart

the lies that have lived along her nerves for so long

what if there is nothing there?

who is she without it?

they talk about normal

but she can’t remember a time

when her life was not colored

like an unsmiling photograph found in a box

by the ancient unending unrelenting fear

what if normal is someone else?

and she hesitates.

but in the end she takes it

the tiny pill

that might change so much

because the anxiety is laughing at her

and she cannot bear it.

My Brain

Slip into my brain, feel

the fire along each nerve.

Learn to fear the world

and question all that’s real.

Make of skin a canvas, writ

with curses, can’ts, and tears.

Embrace unnumbered fears

to make an aria of it.

Hear secrets in a question

then learn doubt–and doubt again.

pretend to truth–remember when

You could enjoy the sun.

Slip into my brain–maybe

You can assemble sense.

Give me a respite from defense.

Teach me to be free.