#poetry, blog, DailyFix, poemoftheday, musings,, selfreflection, selfawareness

Sometimes Pictures Lie

Unfiltered #throwbackthursday. This photo comes up on my Facebook memories every year and it always takes me back because this day was such a complicated day. I was out with friends and outwardly was having an awesome day but I was so depressed during this time.

And this day internally was one of the lowest days I’d had in a long while. And I was distracted because I was out with people I loved and who loved me but for each year this comes up, I’ve always had such a visceral reaction to this photo because I remember how conflicted I felt on this day and I hated seeing it represented like this.

But it also reminds me that things do change and get better. And God is good. And getting help is great.

When I think about depression, one of the poems that comes to mind is this raw, powerful spoken word poem by Sabrina Benaim titled ‘Explaining My Depression to My Mother”

As a child of immigrant parents, one of the toughest things to bring up has been my struggle with depression and anxiety, both because it’s hard to own anyway and also because saying “I am depressed and need help” in a culture that does not cater to the importance of mental health is one of the hardest things to do.

Have a listen to this poem, I find it so comforting:

Explaining My Depression to My Mother ~ Sabrina Benaim

#poetry, blog, DailyFix, poemoftheday, musings,, Projects

Keeping My Hands to Myself

All I think about is how much I want you to survive.

When you were fourteen, I told you:

You can be anything you want to be, just don’t be a statistic

I told you: “We live on the wrong side of town and I know, they know

Your name not because they want to but because they feel they have to”,

I told you can feel as angry as you like but

Never show it on the streets”

We live 62 miles from London, 78.5 miles from

Birmingham; but when the anger exploded

We made you a prisoner in your own home

Cause it doesn’t matter how far away it might be,

Every siren is an emergency in our house.

When you were nineteen,

You found the right things to say

So I wouldn’t be afraid.

Now, I take it for granted that all your words

Are to be read into –

I listen but look at the margins

to see what you’re omitting.

There are things I will not tell you.

Like what it feels like to stand in Templars

Square and have nothing to say when

The old lady you’ve just spent ten minutes

Talking to turns to the waiter and

Says, ‘this coloured girl’s looking for a job,’

No one knows what to say. So we say nothing.

You’re 21. I’m worried your hair is too long,

You’ve never shaved your beard and the way

Your coat hangs on you says things you shouldn’t

Want to say. I tell you, ‘You should cut your hair.

If you look all wrong, you can get in trouble’

Trouble can mean so many things.

April, 2015: ‘Two men have been charged in connection with an incident of

grievous bodily harm in South Park. They were charged today with one count of possessing

a blade in public and one count of wounding with intent…’

We go for dinner, and talk about how funny they both were.

We talk about what we know, the version of their story that will never make the papers

Because No one else will talk about what they could have been.

This we do for every name we recognise in the paper,

For the ones we don’t

for every knife and gun,

We gather and remember, drive and remember, eat and remember

every name, every story, the ones we’ve heard on the streets

the ones we know personally,

We’re the keepers of tales, we swap them

back and forth so that they rest between us;

We deliberately remember the good,

Because we must.

Because this isn’t London.

This isn’t Birmingham.

The only things visible here are the dreaming spires,

conversations at bus stops about the weather,

history soaking into the skin of our hands

so much so that we dare not touch

the stones lest they crumble;

there’s so much history to preserve here…

I’m 25. Now I only tell you, “Please, try and be home by ten.

Don’t get into trouble.”

*Listen to the poem in full!*

#poetry, DailyFix, poemoftheday, musings,

REMEMBER THE GOOD…

Hello! It has been so long. Over a month in fact. I hope you’re all good. I won’t lie, the last month and a bit has been quite overwhelming between work and home and living. I’m sat in the office finalizing several things for a conference and it’s late. It’s been raining all day and both my mood and anxiety are ticking over towards a kind of doom and gloom that matches the torrential rain and grey skies outside.

For whatever reason, my mind has decided that today is not A Good Day. But that’s okay. I’ve spent most of my day at my desk attempting to breathe easy and although it doesn’t feel so great, I’m reminded of a phrase I wrote a while back in an old poem. It is about goodness, about gratefulness and about those moments like today when you’re fighting to breath easy.

Remember the good. Remember strength.
Remember that hope does not diminish
even when it feels absent.

This is currently my creed. I’m hoping for a better, easier month than the one I’ve had. And in case these words might resonate with you, I offer them up for the moment. Be kind to yourself this month.

#poetry, blog, DailyFix, poemoftheday, musings,

‘Everyday Something Has Tried to Kill Me…’

 

 

black woman 3It’s Black History Month in the UK! A month to celebrate, educate, uphold and cheer on the fact that black lives and black history matters. This whole month, many are celebrating all things about black history and I couldn’t let the chance pass me by to share some of my favourite poems from black men and women! This particular poem by Lucille Clifton felt, to me, like a wonderful place to start.

Won’t you celebrate with me
Lucille Clifton

Won’t you celebrate with me 
what i have shaped
into 
a kind of life?
I had no model.
B
orn in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
I made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding
tight my other hand;
come celebrate 
with me
that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed. 

As a black woman in the UK and a black immigrant, this poem is one of my favourites to reach for again and again. It is a declaration. A celebration. An acknowledgement that despite of everything black men and women face in their lives every day, they are living and thriving and we should absolutely shout to the rooftops for that.

Happy #BlackHistoryMonth, friends.