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Conner lee Carey Posts

Taking Anti-Depressants is the Greatest Act of Self-Love I’ve Given Myself

I thought the unceasing self-loathing was normal. I’d grown accustomed to fighting with myself in my own head. Half of my brain said, “You’re no good. You’ll never do it.” Half of my brain said, “Please stop. I’m going to anyway. If you would just be quiet, we could at least try.” None of my brain felt well-enough to get angry, to be sad, to feel much of anything at all. But this was normal. Having to convince myself that everyone didn’t hate me was normal. Struggling to do the basic human things like showering, sleeping, going to work, hanging out with friends outside of my house, was normal.

I had been semi-functional for a year this way, but I felt myself, my entire body, becoming tired of my own shit. When the thought of death became a daily source of relief, I had no choice but to start asking myself, “Is this as good as it gets? Is this how it’s going to be now?” Feeling as though life was lived through the glass wall a foot around my body on every side, I did the most radical thing I could think to do. I decided to go see a doctor.

Three years ago, when I left the hospital after slipping into a Bipolar psychosis, I struggled with medication. Having been put on your garden variety cocktail, I was completely unable to function. The lithium I was on made me feel like a dead body being reanimated, made me feel as though my flesh was solid stone. But I successfully weaned off all the medication, completed college, got a good job, and managed to do the whole life-thing for multiple years completely drug free. Because of my experience with Lithium, I was afraid to go to a doctor. I had seen doctors in Fairfield who seemed to push pills on me even when I said I was doing well. I didn’t trust any of them; I didn’t trust my brain with any of them.

Luckily, around the time I reached my breaking point a couple months ago, one of my best friends, who also struggles with mental illness, finally found a doctor she liked about twenty minutes outside of town. I washed the misplaced pride from my skin and made an appointment. I kept calm; like a sailor on open waters watching the lighthouse off in the distance come closer, I kept calm. But inside my heart, I knew I wouldn’t last much longer if the appointment didn’t go well. I needed help.


“My colleagues call me the hippie doctor, because I take a holistic approach to mental health. I’m not going to give you meds just to give you meds.” Twenty minutes into my appointment and I already liked this woman. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could trust my doctor. She listened to my experiences of the medications I’d taken before. She didn’t try to convince me of anything; she gave me recommendations, told me everything I needed to about what she wanted to put me on, and told me there were plenty of alternatives if this medication didn’t work out. Midway through my appointment, I began to cry. She validated my feelings, “It’s hard. But we’re going to help you.”

In the mental health sector, people who haven’t dealt with the system are quick to say, “well, find another doctor.” But when you’ve been to a string of them, the cavalier find-another-doctor response is infuriating. Which is why finding this woman felt like a god-send. Feeling nervous but excited and hopeful, I left her office and got my prescriptions filled. As I left the pharmacy with meds in hand, the world around me seemed to slow down. It felt like the scene in a movie when the action-packed sequence moves at half-time, showing the intricacies of the fight scene. Except I was in a mostly empty parking lot, watching the last tip of the sun go down. I took a deep breath, and it felt like the first deep breath I’ve taken in a long time. Not just a deep breath of the lungs but a breath of my entire soul inhaling and exhaling in relief.

My doctor said it would be a good sign if I felt the effects immediately, calling it the honeymoon phase of the drug. She warned that I would probably revert back after the phase and would then have to wait for the drug to build up and take effect as anti-depressants often do. Sure enough, within a week I was feeling like an entirely different person, rather the person I used to be with the knowledge and experience I have now. The first weekend I was on the drug, I wrote more than I had in six months. I could focus, I could think, I could feel. I was also struck by the feelings I had denied amongst my self-loathing and depression. I had a sex drive again. I had a desire to live again. I could see my ambition laid before me like a road to follow step-by-step instead of a mountain to climb over that would risk my life and sanity to surmount.

I started meeting with a friend to work on applications for graduate school. She asked how the meds were working out and I told her what I’ve told you. Then she said something I hadn’t realized, something that struck me as both incredibly profound and stunningly simple, “Mm, it’s a awesome act of self-love that you’ve given yourself.” I starred back at her in disbelief, “You’re right. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but damn, you’re right.”


Despite the unbearable pile of empty space that seemed to sit upon my shoulders, I’d had enough left in me to reach out, to set aside my fear and pride in exchange for a chance at joy, life, love, and appreciation. Despite my feelings of powerlessness, my innate worthiness put her foot down and said, “enough is enough.” When the honeymoon phase wore off, as I was warned it would, the pile of empty space came crashing down. I laid on my bed, starring up at the ceiling, shaking my head, “how did you do it for so long?” The two weeks prior felt like shedding my skin; I quickly adapted to my new normal. So when the honeymoon phase left me, I was in awe of my past self’s ability to survive for that long in that way.

Those with depression are far from weak; indeed, we are often too strong for our own good. I knew this slump would disperse with time, but I found myself fighting inside my brain again, quickly becoming exhausted. When the medication began to build up and I returned to stable, I sincerely could not believe how much my own brain had been fucking me over. I thought that was who I had become. I blamed myself for not being able to control the waring halves of my brain. Life is still life, of course. There are ups and downs in the normal range of emotion, but I’m not watching from behind the glass wall anymore. I am here. I am present; I feel alive.

I don’t often talk about this, as a loud proud “ain’t-no-wifey”-beanie-wearing feminist, but I really want to be a mom one day. I had nearly convinced myself that it wasn’t in the cards. Not that I want to have a child anytime soon. but I feared that I would do more harm than good to that beautiful would-be child if I couldn’t even take care of myself. Every day, every task felt like too much to handle; my entire life felt like a tornado sweeping me six feet above the ground. Having grown up with a father who inexplicably flew off the handle without a moment’s notice, I refused to submit my future child to the same behavior.

Accepting a path of life that includes medication has given me an unbelievable amount of perspective on both my own behavior and his: I am capable, and there is nothing wrong with asking for help. I could not have found myself again had I not asked for that help. Had I not set aside the fear and pride, I would not have lasted much longer in the fog of my own mind. Yet I was aware enough to realize that. It’s easy for someone who hasn’t struggled with mental illness to judge one who takes medication. But imagine walking on a broken leg for a year, hating yourself with each step as it hurts, telling yourself the pain is your fault, and that getting a cast would be to admit defeat. Sounds insane, does it not?

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Just Because It’s True, Doesn’t Mean It’s Helpful (Or, Why Being Right is Wrong)

Do you want to be right, or do you want to be an ally? This is the question you have to answer. And it’s best to decide before opening your mouth.

You have to ask yourself, is the point of this conversation retaliation or communication? Choose wisely, because what you choose decides the direction of that conversation thereafter. Retaliation escalates; communication dissipates.

Everyone has the right to voice their opinion. Having a difference of opinion does not invalidate another’s. Now, I must pause to state that opinions which infringe upon another person’s right to live and exist are not opinions, rather misplaced judgements turned on their head to make the other person wrong.

An opinion would be:

“I don’t like this because…” or, “I think, feel that…”

When you respond to an opinion by invalidating how a person feels, thinks, or perceives—you are no longer helping or communicating. You’ve chosen retaliation.

Communication means finding something within the statement to relate to; alternatively, you could explicitly validate their feeling, thought, or perception and respond in kind with your own, albeit differing, view.

In a world where everyone thinks they’re right, what is the point of actually being right? Being right does not help two or more parties reach a consensus. When every person clings to their rightness, nothing changes. Nothing positive or negative can move forward.

Are we, as a society, so emotionally immature that our immediate, knee-jerk response is to lash out? To essentially throw mud at one another until someone takes it too far and slings shit?

What do you have to gain by being right?

Smug satisfaction. An internal pat on the back. A strange relief having put someone “in their place”.

Both parties walk away feeling, thinking, and perceiving in exactly the same way. Because as soon as their opinions are invalidated, their ability to listen shuts down. The reptilian brain kicks into high US vs. THEM mentality and the need to be right feels like fighting a sabertooth tiger for survival. But it isn’t.

What do you have to gain by being an ally?

Connection. Mutual understanding and compassion. Friends and new families. You may even, for a brief moment, glimpse the infinite web that holds us all together; you may even feel like the spider weaving and realize we’re all spiders weaving. And what a relief, a sincere relief, that will be. Maybe.

But not as long as it’s more important to be the “winner”. If you win a conversation, you have lost by the very nature of a conversation. If you converse and do not walk away with new questions, then you spoke too much and listened too little. When we lose the ability to think, feel, and perceive with another, we are as good as dead for we have stopped adapting. And when we cannot adapt, we do not evolve. And when we do not evolve, we die.

We have taken this aversion to adapting to small and large extremes: from ridding our social media feeds of people who disagree with us to waging all-out war. We’ve created laws which infringe on a person’s right to think, feel, and perceive the world in their own way. We are trying to rid the world of its diversity and we have been doing this throughout human history. But the hard-to-handle truth is that no one is right and everyone is right. The truth is that every person feels that they are the good guy, that their view is a good, sound, sensical one. And often, we back up these opinions, not with facts, but with the force of our emotion, with the force of our damaged, uncertain egos.

Just because it’s true, doesn’t mean it’s helpful. We have lost sight of the fact that everything we do, we do to feel better. You want money, success, love, beauty, everything— because you think you will feel better in having it. And you probably would. But not in truth. If that were so, the rich, famous, loved, and most beautiful among would also be the happiest. They are not.

You think that by proving you are right, you will feel better. You will not. Perhaps for a moment, just like those external things we want—it makes us feel good for a moment. But clinging to your rightness is a lonely path, and by the very nature of our being, we need and thrive off of connection.

So what really do you have to gain by being an ally?

Joy. Happiness. A love without conditions for yourself and those around you. An understanding of our deeply ingrained similarities despite outward differences. Because at the end of the day, we are great waves rising up like tsunamis from the sea, but we are all ocean. And every wave will crash.

It is not what we gain in this life that makes us great; it’s not what we give either. It’s what we share in this life that makes us tall enough for the generations to come to see above and beyond what we once could. But in order to do that, in order to create that—we cannot afford to be divided. A single drop of water has no real power, but a consistent stream can erode any rock.

Our instinct has become to retaliate and it shows in the world around us. Whether online or in person, ask yourself one question before you respond to anyone or anything—do I want to be right or do I want to be an ally?

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The Poets & The Painters

Every town should have a resident poet
whose job it is to attend council meetings
and have a vote—someone has to vote
with their heart. On a monthly basis,
the resident poet will host a reading,
gathering all the community in words,
song, and dance. The poet brings her work,
the people bring their food, and everyone
feasts on both until the moon
is high in the star-speckled sky.

When a person in town finds themselves
facing a dark night—as we all do in life—
that person can visit the poet
and ask for a poem from the bard,
who will then take out their typewriter
and let the muses of this befuddled person
bewitch the poet’s hands into a remedy.

The town’s resident poet will commune
with the town’s resident painter
to create murals on city walls
that will lift any passing onlooker’s soul.

Should an imbalance strike the town’s heart,
the poet and painter will be true:
to say the things that must be said
and paint the pictures that must be seen,
to wake our hearts with brutal honesty
of the world around us
and what we’re doing to our fellow man.

And should the world fall into discord,
the poets and painters will lead the charge.
Together as a united front, painting visions
of a world without hurt, a world of care
and united compassion under the single label:
human. Every town should have a resident poet,
with a vote on the city council,
and they would be seated next to the resident painter,
who also has a vote—someone has to vote
with perspective; someone has to vote
for the people as the people,
intermingled along with people as one community.
The poets and the painters could vote
no other way, for they would feel
the suffering their decisions cause.

The people who do not want power
are the very ones we should be giving it to;
for those who want power,
will surely misuse it.
Let the artists have a vote;
turn congress into a conglomerate
of poets, painters, sculptors, engineers,
coders, stay-at-home mothers and fathers,
ex-convicts who’ve turned their leaf,
cashiers who work for minimum wage,
astronomers, biologists, psychologists,
social workers, firefighters.
A democracy of law degrees
is no representation of the people at all.

Every town should have a resident poet
because nobody ever got rich from poetry,
and money has no place in poetry at all—
writers are called to write,
because no voice goes farther
than the one that’s been recorded on paper.
But the message is simple and the same:
the world is beautiful if we let it be.


*part of my 365Poetry project, #16.

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Stronger Than My Varying Will to Breathe

It’s sweet you think I’m disciplined;
I guess I do try to be,
but it comes in stops and starts
and isn’t to be envied.
Welcome to the bipolar brain:
where fields of productivity
clash with days of “fuck off!”
Where moments of amazing creative energy
are used up to every last drop.
Until there is nothing left
and I force myself to give it up.

What you didn’t see, what you don’t,
were the months of doing nothing
but going to work and coming home.
The months of questioning my sanity
and wondering if I can even work full-time;
the days I pushed through by the skin
of my thick, thick hide.
Truly, if you’re lucky enough
to simply go on living your life
without feeling constantly as though
you must strive and push and prove
something to yourself about what you can do—
please do; there’s really nothing to be done
except that which calls to you;
it’s just I hear voices calling here and there
almost all the time. I see opportunities
in tiny glances and leap just to see what I find.
It’s a heavy-handed reckless abandon,
that’s bitten me back a time or five.
And it’s highly overrated running around
as though you’re body is burning alive.

I do my best work when I don’t
have anything that must be done.
When I’ve given myself the freedom
to just sit down and have fun—
when I’m not concerned about voices
or publishing, when it’s not about the public
but about diving into the sea of me—
that’s the stuff worth striving for,
that’s the bottom of poetry’s ocean floor.
You have to slow down your very being
to catch the words dropping from the ceiling.

I have to hit myself over the head with a stick
or trip just to realize “no, this is it.
You can’t do anything more, now quit
pestering, worrying, wondering if it’s enough”—
don’t strive, for yourself, to be that tough;
it’s false strength pushing through,
I’m learning to step back and observe
more like you naturally do.

Cause I’m an avalanche roaring through,
but lord knows we need calm meadows too:
People who move slow enough
to know the plants by name,
who come to full conclusions
before talking from their brain.
It’s sweet you think I’m disciplined,
but I’m slightly insane—
balancing my road-rage warrior
and zen do-nothing monk,
holding onto leaves and branches
from my thick Oak tree trunk.

If I happen to find a rhythm
and sink into its tune,
I guarantee the melody
is aiding in my boon.
For I truly am a beast
barely holding on to clothes;
the only reason I write so much
is it keeps my body whole.
Without the will to strike a match
and fire up my soul,
I’d all but lose what I have gained
in moving towards my goal:

To shout with words what my mouth
can’t say, to let everyone know
it’s going to be okay.
To share the vision
that overtakes my brain
and open up our wounds
of impenetrable pain.
I am but one spinning words
on a bright computer screen,
but my books will be many;
whether seen or unseen;
the will to write them is stronger
than my varying will to breathe.
What you call disciplined,
has been given to me as a disease.

Of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way,
because it’s who I am.
But I wanted you to know
the depths of where that goes
and why I wouldn’t wish it
on another living soul.
Life is in the living.
Life is all the tiny moments
we stop appreciating as adults
until we’ve grown slower and old,
then we wish we had known.
I am but writing my way to old age;
for there is no other way for me to go,
these blank pages are my lungs,
and I breathe with each poem.



*part of my 365Poetry project, #15. Join the Fam while you’re here.

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Come, come,
run up this grassy hill with me.
Look, look,
follow my arm to where I’m pointing—
down there, in the brush,
the ant, snake, and armadillo—
there you are, there you are.

Now look, look
up at the eagle,
catching the wind, gliding.
That’s where you’re going.
Pick up the sand, the soil, the mud
feel it slip through your fingers
regardless of which way you’ve come.

Now turn, dance with me
arms up, twirling.
See the clouds building—
you did that.
Look, look
at the hair standing up on your neck,
and the lightning illuminating the sky—
there you are.

Now move, move
with the direction of the wind
sway, fall, get up again.
Everything you’re asking for
you already have—
so come
find it dancing in the wind.
find it on the grassy hill.
find it in all the creatures
you have ever been.
dance with me.

See the clouds building?
You did that.
When the rain is released
from these clouds you have built—
you are too,
so come, come
leave the shade tree
come, come
we are too small to bother lightning
come, come,
run up this grassy hill with me.
Look, look
at the first drop clinging—
ever afraid to let go.
So let go, let go,
dance with me.

Feel, feel
the raindrops as they release
and catch them with your palms,
watch them slip through,
fall, get back up again,
as raindrops tend to do—
always forming new clouds.
Come, come
shed your water
release your rain.
Look, look
to where my finger is pointing—
everything you want to be
you already are
so come, come
run up this grass hill with me.
See, see
the beauty of your very being.

Rest now— let the sky
clear to blue
everything is on its way,
beautiful and new.
Everything you want to do,
you’ve already done over and over
and over again—
so come, come
the clouds are dispersing
the flowers you water will bloom.
Relax, relax my dear
stretch out your limbs,
everything you could ever want
is ready to be given.

Look, look
the resting lion, the flying bat,
there you are, you are that.
North, South, East, West,
Pachamama knows you’re blessed.
So come, come.
Look, look.
See, see.
Feel, feel.
Release &



*Written during Luminous Writers Sound & Poetry Workshop while the gong was played. Part of my 365Poetry project, #14. Join the Family while you’re here. 

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The Poet Meets A Farmer

I’m going to get sentimental on you now,
not nostalgic— this isn’t the past.
Rather the lifelines of a future,
whether or not it will come
to pass. But let’s go ahead
and make an agreement
if it stands: I’ll do the dishes
if you plow the fields;
I’ll clean the vegetables,
if you cook the meals.

I’d rather not write in one place,
so I’ll be happy to go on adventures.
And if you need your space—
well, we’ll have 20 acres.
The tv (if we have one)
will never play sports,
and I won’t have to feign interest
in men running around in tight shorts.
What a pleasure, to never again see golf
upon a big bright screen
when outside it’s the perfect day
to go enjoy Spring.

I love how you remember little things—
lavender, lavender, a bottle of lavender;
you create patterns of sentimentality
with the small things you remember
Oh and I can’t forget the music:
Brass, jazz, folk, blues.
And how easily you cry when I sing a tune.

You’re much too beautiful for one man;
and I’m much too strong for one woman.
You can talk for hours and hours,
running circles around my head:
microbes, soil, compost—“where was I again?”
Go back 200 billion years and take a left,
that’s where it all started…

You talk about your passions
and why you want to pursue them,
I chuckle inside cause it sounds familiar.
Even though you work with soil
while I work with words,
we both want to teach the world,
through heart and action,
about slowing down and giving affection.

I’ve ventured too far down my own
rabbit hole; if I continue I’ll surely
apologize for allowing such wonderings.
But if nothing else, I’ve learned more
about what I’m looking for
in a friend, lover, and mate
from a man that’s much too beautiful
to have ever given me the time of day—
and yet I found him in my room
spinning circles around my head as he spoke,
holding back tears when I sang,
and taking drives to have a toke.

So forgive my sentimental rant
of future lines I cannot tell,
I couldn’t help but write down
the internal imagery spinning a tale.
And if I’ve only been blabbering on,
then my words you may withdraw.
Otherwise, let’s make an agreement
should it stand: I’ll do the dishes,
if you harvest the land.



*part of my 365Poetry project, #13. Join the Fam while you’re here.

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5 Reasons Not to Quit Your Day Job in Pursuit of Creative Freedom

If you can’t create amid the chaos of daily life, you never will. I’ve come to terms with this slowly and begrudgingly. For in this modern world of 40-hour work weeks and social media, an idea has permeated our imaginations and created wild desires of pure abandon that whisper, “escape, escape.” We long for open fields of unadulterated time, white sandy beaches with our ass in a lawn-chair and laptop in place: more than ever we are not content with what our day-to-day offers, and instead seek a picturesque life. But a boat that does not rock must live on dry land.

Furthermore, the new age mentality loudly rejects “negative” emotion, as though it were possible to be rid of it all together. As though growth could happen to a seed that never sprouts, a seed that never pushes through soil towards a hope for sunlight. The irony of the cliched lotus flower is how it comes to bloom— by pushing through the mud.

Worse, our violent escapism gives power to our circumstances— as though one is at the whim of her own life and unable to reclaim what is negative as something beautiful, profound, and simultaneously heartbreaking. It’s to reject the art of life, to lay down your brushes, put away the pen, and declare your well of creativity empty and void. Neither the unadulterated time or the ability to escape will grant you the sudden momentum to create. But your emotions, both positive and negative, will get you there. In the struggle between the two lies the very creativity you seek. Do not quit your day job to run towards something that isn’t external. Care for and cultivate your internal garden, then watch the plants sprout up all around you.

1. Nothing Kills Passion Faster Than Asking It to Pay the Bills

A few of my creative friends are about to graduate college, and when asked, my advice to them is that, “it doesn’t matter what job you get. That’s not when your work gets done.” If you can get a job that teaches you applicable skills to your work—all the better. But your work does not get done at your day job. Your work gets done on the weekends, in the evenings, or early mornings. Your work gets done in fifteen minute intervals on your lunch breaks or in-route on the subway train. It gets done while your children are napping or before they’re awake with a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

When I was a teenager and contemplating my first job, I thought working in a coffee shop would be dreamy. Not like a real job, I’d get free coffee and the rest was in a foggy state of disillusionment. But when I went into my favorite coffee shop to apply, I realized getting the job meant this would never be my favorite coffee shop again. I walked out and applied to Target instead.

Likewise, our creative spaces are holy to us. They’re the churches without dogma we never had as children. It’s fundamental to our wellbeing. So to come home one day and say, “Hey, creativity, it’s time you make the money that pays for my life,” ha! Your creative fairy will laugh and give you the cold shoulder until you’ve profusely apologized, declared your unconditional love, and returned to your place as the antenna receiving its electromagnetic wave.

2. The World Doesn’t Owe You Its Attention

This is tough for the ‘me’ generation, and it’s our parents fault for telling us we’re so darn special. But if you had a parent like that, thank them. Because you are. You’re a unique fucking butterfly with luminescent wings. The problem is, so is everyone else. We’re all equally important and valuable, which means everyone’s voice deserves to be heard, and in a lot of ways, the internet is making that possible. But the world doesn’t owe you its attention just because you have something to say; we are all selfish creatures. What you say must be powerful if you’re to propel it out into the world, but most importantly it must be authentic—for authenticity breeds connections that are universal. And if someone is to appreciate your work, they must see themselves in it.

3. Success is Not the End Result

There is no end result in a creative life. There’s millions of drafts, but “art is never never finished, only abandoned,” if you ask Leonardo da Vinci. He painted the Mona Lisa— looks done? Not according to him. That’s true of every piece of writing, art, and creativity in general. It’s never done, but you hurl it into the world anyway, throw your hands up and say, “fly my children! Fly!”

Yet you won’t find the joy in how it lands. When it lands in someone else’s lap, it’s theirs now. It’s become a part of them, if you’ve done your work well. The joy for you is in the process of creation itself. In those moments when your mind untangles from your body, and both open like doorways to your soul, revealing a part of yourself you’d never uncovered before. By the time you’re looking back on what you’ve written or gazing over the piece you’ve painted, it’s become its own entity. It no longer belongs to you any more than your children belong to you. It will be under your care; it will be your job to prepare it for the world and send it out into the world, but it’s no longer you or yours. You have to create from where you are now, again and again and again and again. There is no going back. And no amount of worldly acclaim for what you’ve done will be enough to satisfy what you still can do, must do.

4. You Need Room to Breathe But Not All of It // or // There’s Enough Oxygen to Go Around

Now this isn’t to say you should work at a job you hate for forty years and retire having done nothing with your work. Indeed it’s to say the opposite. We are under the reinforced impression that what we do for a living is what we are. Yet our ideals of success are obscenely obtuse—more wealth than we know what to do with and more fame than is sanely acquired. We’re struggling against the 1% while hoping to become one of them. But creativity is often work done in isolation, and your day job will teach you about people. The ups, downs, and catastrophes will make you thankful, and the art you create from those catastrophes will make you strong. Wishing all of that away to sit in some ivory tower with a feathered nest is the dullest of dreams to have. For with too much room to breathe, your steps will echo down the empty hallway and sound like clocktowers chiming in your ears. Like a leader with so much wealth they cannot understand the everyday person, you will find yourself too removed from life to play, to connect, to communicate, or to perceive a world which isn’t your own.

You deserve room to breathe. You deserve enough money so that you and your family’s needs are more than met. You deserve time to yourself and the permission to create. Everyone does. But you have to give that permission to yourself. With or without the means to prove it, you have to find your worthiness and know it. And feel it.

You won’t find it all at once; you’ll find it in the ups, the downs, and the catastrophes you spin into poetry, art, words, paint, woodwork, clothing, food, and more. You find it in the comebacks after getting knocked down, the unexpected detours, and random acts of kindness from strangers. Perhaps you know the stranger, perhaps you merely watched a video on Facebook about what one stranger did to improve the life of another stranger. But that sense of fulfillment we receive watching such an act take place is the same gift we wish to share through our work. So please, go do your work. There’s enough creativity for everyone, just like your breathing doesn’t impede on my ability to take in oxygen. So please, go do your work.

5. You Already Have Creative Freedom

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that my emotions are like wind patterns. I can turn my boat and sail into a headwind, but it will surely push me back. Or I can tilt the angle and use the power wind holds to fill my sails and propel me forward, albeit somewhat off course but in the right general direction all the same. Regardless my emotions like wind patterns, I am steering the boat. The boat being the vessel of my life. That is creative freedom and by nature of your imagination, you already have it.

I’m not telling you to settle for a life of day jobs; I’m telling you not to wait until you quit that day job to pursue your creativity. In fact, it’s probably best you don’t quit those day jobs until you’ve more than replaced them with the work of your creative life. And if that day never comes, then you haven’t wasted any time waiting to be great, rather waiting for the world to acknowledge your greatness. You gave yourself permission to create and you did, again and again and again and on. At worst, you’ll have lived your life fully present in authenticity and open to beauty. Don’t devalue the joy of that for dead trees with printed faces and digits on a computer screen. Life is so much greater than validation and recognition. You have a universe inside you; your work is to explore it. Nothing can stop you from doing that; don’t let it. Don’t wait for the right time or enough money. Just create something to please yourself, and do it today.



*part of my 365Poetry project, #12. Join the Fam while you’re here.

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Anatomical Configurations: I Am Pan

I don’t fall in love
with what’s between
two legs; I don’t care
about your anatomical configurations.
I fell in love with a woman
in shorts and a button-down shirt
walking past a coffee shop today.
As I walked out, she walked in,
and I had the great pleasure
of holding the door.

I like to be a provider,
but I’m a care-giver too.
I don’t care about roles;
the responsibility of love extends
beyond what can and can’t be done.
I’m attracted to strength
and someone who can put me
in my place; someone with whom
I can bicker and laugh
in the same breath of space—

whether they have a penis
or vagina is inconsequential.
But I’ve struggled to define
what this means. Some men
turn me on like a fire-hydrant
that’s sprung a leak,
some men make me nauseous
at the thought of his skin
to mine. With women,
I sometimes can’t tell
whether I want to be more like them
or with them; so I settle
on something in between,
usually called friendship.
I’ve slept with neither,
so I can’t say I prefer bed
with one or the other—
I’m looking at your soul.
Does it resonate with mine?
Do we have similar values
and equally open minds?

I like long dresses
and fitted tweed pants,
found at a second-hand store,
that were made in France.
I like purple vests,
and men’s shirts—
mostly because they make
women’s too thin,
in fabric and size
as though one should be frail
and always easy on the eyes.

I am rough
around the edges,
loud and unashamed,
a wild animal that refuses
to be tamed. “Take it
or leave it,” I always say,
“cause I’m not going to change.”
Strong personality, highly
opinionated and sure of myself—
there’s no, “tell me I’m beautiful,”
I tell my fuckin’ self.

Beauty isn’t about gender;
it’s intangible, indescribable,
you can’t bottle and sell it
on a makeup counter.
Beauty is appreciating
the way someone else
just is, whether within,
without, or altogether.

I don’t fall in love
with what’s between
two legs— I don’t care
about how you have a body,
the way it moves or falls.
Petty shit like that has no place
in love at all. I’m looking
at your soul. I’m moved
by your mind; your kindness
soothes me; your wit
makes me laugh; your body
is beautiful because you’re in it.
It wouldn’t look the same
on anybody else.

Forget the critics, the judgements,
the ignorant crowds. Pity
the person who looks at you
and doesn’t long to stare—
their sight has grown weak
from external standards
and too many “this is how
you should be”s.

I’m looking at an angel
with tucked wings
while you see a reflection
that’s infinitely deceiving.
You think angels cower?
Real or imagined,
no angel would freely
clip its own wings.
I dare you to fly; I dare you
to be a freak, unique;
don’t let your wild
go extinct,

because there ain’t another
tiger with yellow stripes,
ain’t another vegetarian lion
or monkey that types,
ain’t another speed-racer sloth,
or ten-foot tall ant, ain’t
another dolphin that lives
in the sand. And in case
no one’s ever told you,
I think it’s about time—
you’re more beautiful
than anyone I’ve seen
my whole life.

My poetry is sloppy,
sometimes I don’t rhyme,
but you’ve been so kind
as to read to this line.
And if you haven’t already
guessed, I’m talking to you.
It’s not some corporeal entity
I’m talking to, I’m talking to
you. I’ve broken the fourth
wall, what ya gunna do?


*part of my 365Poetry project, #11. Join the Fam while you’re here. 

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He’ll be just as capable as any of our women, // A Short Poem Story

Eight wise women sit around a fire,
debating what to do with a young boy
found naked in the nearby river.
He was shivering in Summer,
too thin to feel the heat of the sun
from beneath the canopy of trees.
So the hunters brought him back,
too kind of women to turn a blind eye,
and the men cooked the catch —
five rabbits and a doe. The boy
was clothed. Everyone ate of the feast.
Now the boy was asleep.
Clearly abandoned, five of the women
want to bring him into the tribe,
while the rest aren’t convinced
he wasn’t sent to contrive.
“How could you think that
of such a young boy?” One protests
loudly while the High Priestess
of the eight weighs her decision.
She remains neutral, as is tradition,
until she makes the final call.
At that point, the order will be stone
and unable to be contested.
Her silence means the remaining
seven could yet sway her mind.

“Young, yes. Innocent, we don’t know.”
“He was abandoned!”
“Or he’s come a long way from a neighbor-
ing tribe. Purposefully. It would be
hard to accidentally wonder
onto our land, into our river
without having some sense of direction.”
The High Priestess nods, indicating
her point has been well made.

Like the ring of a bell
at a wrestling match, the round
was over and the boy had lost.
Now the other wise women
must make a solid stance
in opposition to win the game.

“If I might,” the ever-silent
Blare of Fire speaks. All hush,
the High Priestess herself is surprised,
“Go on,” she beckons, now curious.
“We’re dangerously close to mistakes
of old. We cannot afford to be afraid;
we have only trust and lessons learned
from betrayal, none of which are
to never trust again. If we follow
our base instincts in regards
to a frail boy, what does that say
of our true strength?
Very little.”

The High Priestess nods
and sparks her long wooden pipe.
The wise women look on,
after three puffs she will speak,
puff, the room is silent.
puff, the boy turns in his sleep.
puff, she blows smoke rings
into the fire; Blare smiles.
“We will accept the boy,”
the Priestess takes another drag
before continuing, “we are not
savage like city folk. Nor are
we cruel like some of the other tribes.
And Blare is right.”

The fire is doused,
the women return to their homes
in all directions across the tribes’ land.
It was decided the boy
would stay in Blare’s territory;
she had taken a liking to him
as the son she couldn’t bear.
She would train him in both combat
and medicine. “He will be more
than a homemaker,” she thought,
“He’ll be just as capable as any of our women,
and I’ll make sure of it.”



*part of my 365Poetry project, #10; Join the Fam while you’re here.

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Poems from the Cherry Tree // Ars Poetica

The worst part
of healing a broken heart
is losing the poetry.
I filled pages with your name;
I wrote scripture!
All the Gods laid down in vain;
I created thunder.

If only I could bottle
what-ever it is about you
that took my swollen love
and pierced it with a battalion.
Your great army of solid steel
chain-link, army of you.
can’t. touch. me.
I created thunder.
I made the mountains landslide,
the valleys flood.
Armor only weighs you down
in the water. Army of
take off your clothes or drown.

Now I have a viper’s tongue,
scythe blade, stone heart
for you. Don’t speak,
don’t look, never meet,
I forsake my religion of you.
That scripture I was spittin’
wasn’t holy, just lonely
and confused. It was tore-up,
can’t breathe, what. is.
the. truth?

The worst part
of healing a broken heart
is losing the undying fire
by two wet fingers that snuff.
Gettin’ stuck between a rock
and calling your bluff.
And it was never enough.
So I got used to putting pen
to paper, daily. Hours and hours
staring at a yellow legal pad
vomiting you on the page
like a bad piece of meat
stuck behind my ribcage.
My pen as my weapon,
I unsheathed my sword,
bled mighty words
to conquer my world.

Then I had a daydream,
a living nightmare;
dreamt that you would be there
waiting for me. Foolish,
full rush, and everything
I wanted to be.
But all ripened fruit rots
if you wait too long to eat,
and when I woke up
all the cherries had fallen
from the cherry tree.
And the bugs had a feast.

Wise up, rise up,
discard the leftover
pieces I used to be,
shedding skin cells,
new blood cells,
a whole different me.

But I made something
with that grief. I put it into poetry
until I had nothing left to say.
Then I sang, and I sang, and I sang.
When the poetry covered the ground
like those rotten cherries—
I left it there.
And the audience cheered,

So loud it sounded like thunder,
coming up across a low-lying field
in the middle of a torrential downpour.
I felt like I was standin’ there, naked,
without a care in the world.
Then I lit a cigarette, got in my truck,
and went for a drive.

That girl was never seen again;
like a snake shedding skin,
we parted ways. I have her memories,
her viper’s tongue, but no blade.
Just a cherry tree, deep in the soil,
about ready to burst into bloom,
about ready to bear fresh fruit.
It’s branches thick,
I will wade through and pick,
suck down to the pit, spit.
And I will sing, and I will sing,
and I will sing until the poetry
has grown in, like the cherries—
I will pluck them, suck them down
to the pit, and spit
words over rhythm,
filling pages with my name;
standing naked in a downpour,
hearing scripture in the rain:
Shh shh shh or shou shou shou,
depending on the wind.
Depending on the poetry
I find myself having written.



*part of my 365Poetry project, #9; Join the fam while you’re here. 

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