When Claudia Castro Luna sent me her poem, In Sommerlicht Schwebend, where “love [is] a champagne fueled badminton birdie,” I was inspired as editor to call for work that addresses the theme of mental illness; I had no idea how compassionate and vulnerable our contributors would allow themselves to be.
Nancy Christopherson wrote of her dying mother “straddling two worlds . . . [as]spanning two white Lippizan stallions in that haute ecole of dressage.” Marjorie Power remembers her mother’s mania in which she shares her love of Puccini. Maria Rouphail gains a long distance perspective of a difficult upbringing through a friend who calls her mother’s actions Purification.
Several poets address depression and grief: Dale Champlin writes in the voice of Barbie, “I lie here like a stunned mullet–/fishy and diluted.” Lorraine Carey says of her sister, “I see your slow sad gait/walking away in my dreams.” And Patricia Knoll shares, “Awake with half my brain/to your sadness, woe/a sea you cannot cross.”
Some write from their experiences (or from their imaginations) of mental illness: Carolyn Adams has us walking on the ceiling. Lisa Ni Bhraonain walks us down the corridors of an asylum in an aural lingual degeneration/evolution. Brigitte Goetze takes us into the cellar and into the realm of fermenting anxiety and panic. Susan Landgraf’s voice is “down/to dimes and nickels. The floor lamp/takes reverse xrays.” A. Marine shares, “maybe the color is leaking from my eyelids/I, too, am lit from within.” R.T Castleberry “pick[s] at the day like a carrion bird.” Jimmy Pappas want to fly.
Gary Lark and Jeff Burt share their personal observations and connection to two homeless men in Danny, and Bubble Man.
Still other poets emphasize the voice of the mentally challenged, with the use of prose poetry: Michael Chang, Calida Osti, and Elizeya Quate.
There are several more remarkable poems that don’t fit into these clusters which are worthy of your attention.
Finally, Carolyn Adams, Lisa Ni Bhraonain, and David Felix provide a visual respite with their artworks. Carolyn’s collage, “Grow,” seemed the most affirmative image for the cover with her whirling dervish, gigantic leaves reminiscent of Jack and the Beanstalk, and the ladder as an invitation to move upward. Lisa’s painting, “Still Life,” and her three collages, “Snake,” “Apple,” and “Fabergê Egg” share an accretion of markings reflecting a controlled frenzy. David Felix’s visual poem, “Finding Direction,” shows us how to “make for benevolens within the daily round.”
Let us grow and make for benevolence this Winter Solstice; the light is beginning to return.