Two Poems from Jennifer Patino for our online “Trauma Letters Anthology”

white lined paper

(c) Dim Hou on Unsplash.


  During the healing,
the green ladies said I could
dance in my dreams
and it would be the same
as dancing in the rain
after the first week
in the new town,
where mud filled the streets
and truth be told,
where it all went down

  Downhill is how I ended
up on this makeshift massage
table     I drank the art of
dancing and closed my eyes
too quickly as the carpet
turned to sand

     The boys just watched,
   were you surprised?
   They're wasting time
   trying to show me
   what makes a man

   Mud, and it can be
washed away     The
healers say I'm purified
They can feel my
organs shrinking
I feel what it is to be
a bubble

(“You girls are nothing but trouble”)

    One of the emeralds looks
like a poet I admire
Her eyes are what I take
from this impromptu session
I promise to dance my way
through all of life's lessons
She knows it will always
be better in my mind

   Now we're out of time
and it's desert dry,
the verdant landscape
is no more     Dancing
shoes replaced with
comfy slippers and
hiding from unexpected
knocks on doors

    Recovery is a journey
with no end in sight,
but you move with its rhythm
because it feels better
even if some things
can never be made right

51 50

Day 1:

There are four strangers in my living room. Their clothing is dark but they look like angels. I call one of them by their first and last name. He's stunned. “I've never met her before in my life.” They strap me to a carriage and I am floating. I can't count the overhead lights because it's off rhythm with the Kesha song cycling through my head. I suddenly fear bombs and feel that this whole thing is terribly wrong. I open my eyes later and see a smiling lawyer on a billboard. I know now I'm not at home anymore. I'm sure I've died.

These sirens for me
I've been lured somehow, floating
Confusing ocean

Day 2:

I'm pacing around the white room away from the white coats. I pace around a table. I sit at a table. I stand up and pace again. I think my movements are fluid. There are white papers on the table and I'm too paranoid to sign them. I black out and the room is full of water. Then it all drains, and it's empty again except for a frazzled doctor. She's out of breath, wide eyed, and staring at me. I don't recognize myself in the mirrors lining the left wall, but I knew even before I fell asleep that there were other me's here. I don't know which one is real or which one is my future ghost.

Too many doorways
They say all are closed to me
But I defy them

Day 3:

I don't remember visitors. I'm supposed to remember them. I don't remember what day it is. I wring my hands and they're scaly. My dead self is flaking off. I am raw. I am given industrial strength soap that tears more of me off. They say a part of me took off days ago. They ask me strange questions. I think I'm there for something else.

“I think you're possessed”
Staff members are scaring me
I will not trust them

Day 4:

The sun is too bright. I pace around the garden wrapped in a blanket. I go in when it is too hot, shuffle around the rec room, and go back out when the ever-pumping AC makes it freezing. Alarms go off because someone tries to escape. I think it's Sunday. Football on the tube tells me it's true. I see my shining star that night. I walk the hallways after hours when he's out of sight and there's an Elton John concert on the TV that me and another insomniac are given special permission to watch. We sing quietly. We hold hands. We are sent to bed.

I'm crying for home
“So goodbye yellow brick road”
Can I go back soon?

Day 5:

The judges are the jury. They say I can't leave early. They don't know what's wrong with me. I start inventing things wrong with me based on prescription drug commercials that trigger us all on the TV. The thing is always on. It's a clearer picture than what's through the barred windows. It's clearer than the fog in everyone's heads. I can't feel my face from whatever they have me on. Another patient slaps me after coming in for a hug. It's a surprise attack. She's been here one day less than me and she's learned nothing. I haven't spake unless spoken to in three days.

I read “Ariel”
I wonder if it's cliché
or just worrying

Day 6:

I recognize my visitor. I've been waiting all day. I feign smiles through arts and crafts. I write a letter home lying about how this experience has made me feel so much better. I think this is what they want. I know they're watching us. What I really want to write is: “There is so much that needs to be done with how mental health is handled here in America and I'm too afraid to speak up. I will be silent about this because they've already put so many stigmas on me that I'm buried in them. I will forever be afraid of this happening again until the day that I die and it will change me.”

 Every single day
“Just be yourself” they tell me
Then I'm locked away

Day 7:

They tell me I'm going home and I'm happy. I'm nervous about screwing it up though. I'm exceptionally good. I chat with nurses like a “normal person” while silently cursing them through my teeth. I still don't sleep fitfully. I read my notebook for the week. They gave me a soft sponge wrapped around a piece of lead to write with to keep me calm. I'm shocked. Someone wrote in my book but I won't recognize myself in those words until later. And even then whoever I was is now long gone.

Making it alive
The goal once I realized
I had nowhere to hide

Day 8:

I finally step into the sunshine with my head down. I continue this practice for all of my days.

It's just
this way

see below for more poetry and interviews/bio from Jennifer.  Thanks

Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Jennifer Patino

Audrey Hepburn Challenge: Some Things A Lady Just Wears Well by Jennifer Patino

3 poems by Jennifer Patino : “Postcard” “the Thaw” & “Watching Rosemary’s baby at 6 AM”

Twitter: @thoughtthistles

Poem by Kathryn Anna Marshall : EMDR

(c) David L O’Nan


left brain right brain
left brain right brain
reroute neural pathways
rewrite my own tale
left brain right brain
left brain right brain
reluctant loss of signposts
identity is frayed
left brain right brain
left brain right brain
I miss visceral pain
stomach rooted wail
left brain right brain
left brain right brain
I crawl out for nothing
blasted tears flow
left brain right brain
left brain right brain
body slam at memory
start of domino
left brain right brain
left brain right brain
small girl in my palm
wild feeling lives beside
power supplants harm

Kathryn Anna Marshall is a poet based in Shropshire. Her work is inspired by her experience of chronic illness, as well as her connection with the natural world. Kathryn has work in places like Mslexia, Popshot Quarterly, Streetcake, Sledgehammer and Words for the Wild. She is a columnist for Spelt Magazine, and is working on her first pamphl

Poetry & Message from Church Rowe : A Song Stolen by the Wind

(c) Church Rowe

A Song Stolen by the Wind

i crack a knuckle and flex my neck
in hopes, a synapse may snap
a vision of wisdom about something
mundane, that i can sing atop a mountain
down to a people in pain

i feel a melody without words to sing
not that verbiage would mean anything
of value or worth to those that hurt,
ones that life has drug through dirt

i open a chorus, the wind sings back
a brazen, vigorous, purposeful attack
rocks roll under feet, i’m encircled
by my own song; drowned-out in defeat

my knees scuffed
i can’t get up
i’m slipping
down this mountain
hands gripping
broken nails digging
for a single stable root
gulps and guttural grunts
i try to get up
mine own whirlwind of syllables
threatens my footing
of who I am
of who I could be
this unending struggle
with deficiency;
may I once

i think i’ve tapped into my insecurities (again). I have pretty severe stage fright and social anxiety. This usually leads to long internal bouts with MDD, which may come as a surprise to some, but it’s all too true. I’ve sung countless times on stage, hearing my warbling voice try to maintain authority in the speakers; and fail. I’ve looked down to physically see my legs shaking through my pants, so I would sit down on an amp, but the nervous energy just moves elsewhere. I’ve played the wrong-est notes, at the wrong-est times, out of sheer panic, throughout many years on a church stage. Yet, the hundreds of times I’ve been on stage, it never goes away. The more I focus on it, the worse it gets. However, if I don’t pay attention, it also gets out of hand. And, not just ‘the stage’, either. I get over-stimulated when there are many moving parts (read: the general public), my mind starts to race and I can’t keep up with everything around me. I don’t need to keep up with things, but someone please tell my mind that. There are more than a dozen times that I’ve blacked-out from my brain running away without my permission – panic attacks. Most of the time, I am unaware that it’s happening, until I’m waking up to “WTF? and where am I? how many people saw? …I want to go home.”

Doc and I have been working on it for quite a few years, now. Meds are great, but at 43 years old, habits are hard, more so are mindsets. I support the Big 3: Exercise, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy & meds (if necessary). I know medication gets a bad wrap, but as a person who’s tried many substances, don’t knock it until you’ve fully tried it (good fixes usually aren’t quick). There’s no reason to get beat up (mentally) while fighting something you can’t win. It’s unfortunate, but no one will see the badges of your fight with your depression. People just won’t see it, especially if you’re strong. Set that fight down and lean on someone else for help. As it’s Mental Awareness Month (I’m a little late), I figure I’ll just put this out there. Of course, my issues are not your issues and we are all in a different place. But, if you feel alone, your brain’s lying to you. You are wrong.

I’ve watched my son, now 15, deal with the same thing; numerous panic attacks to the point of blacking out. Now that we know what’s happening, it can be somewhat managed. I’m only getting personal to tell somebody that not all things are environmental or circumstantial. If it is, change it. But apparently, sometimes, we are just biology gone awry, and we are vessels containing that mental wackiness. It’s not your fault. I thought I could fight it on my own, fix my own problem; I tried until my mid-30s. It was a waste of time to be arrogant.

Final Thought: This is not a sob story or looking for pity; please don’t do that. So many times poetry comes from a context-less place, that the reader must figure some interpretation out on their own. I’ve read my share of poetry and am always amused (mostly, enlightened) to hear the author’s version of their writ, so here’s mine.


My name is Trinity Bourque (aka Church Rowe). I’ve been part of a few bands in the past currently in The Wanderer’s Drift. I am a 43-year-old, father of two, husband to one, from South Central, Louisiana (deep cajun country). I’m attempting to build a farm that produces organic vegetables; while holding down a part-time remodeling job. I’ve played/written music since I was about 12 years old. Since then my expressions have overflowed onto paper and computer keyboards. I enjoy playing music, listening to music, poetry, writing, typing, reading, camping (mostly primitive backpacking), and more recently, gardening and farming.

Poems by David L O’Nan : Reciprocate a Lost Hello & other poems

Reciprocate a Lost Hello

Blooming up as sun tortures a mind
Your hello,
An echo moistened by dust
A traveling spittle of rain
And subsiding into a crevice of mistakes.
Wishing you were the juxtaposition
between beauty, 
and the sorrow of a burning flower.
Raindrops Mimic the sprinkles of sound
Against the tin of a lost hello

Crowded inside voices, 
are only calm -
when they are power
Power was built by energy, sight,
and the holding of truth.
Deep in a heart, the gut of the gods,
Life is crisp in the glow.

Death is moistened by a crooked mind blown -
apart with the memories.

A Lost hello was reciprocated into a shower of unknown.
We stammer in the wind, 
as the mind dreams up an eternal shade.
I sit there in the grip and trip in the circles around my feet.
Nor can a dance be,
Nor can a bruise heal,
Nor can a hello be returned -
once it has been broken
by what was heard, initially.

Today we are sold into the friendship of nerves.
They tangle a supposed soul
They, like all seeds,
grow once they are breathed into existence.
And then stems sewn into the heavens as historical
As lost hellos.

Caskets and Libraries

How is the garden this Spring, so far?
The wedding feels like a line of caskets
We are cold, walking away
And these libraries we read all the sonnets,
And the romantic era poetry.
The room just smells like toes
in old socks that can't fit on these old spirits.
They just creep their heads out of the books.

I can't stand walking these beaches
With my Brixton Hooligan falling into the sand.
You were taken before me,
and that seems like a penalizing breath to take
This sand is fucking truculent and burns in the boredom.

I'm trying to hold onto this gravity
While I swim indigested in the stomach of Earth
Because that is what i've been told to do.
I'd much rather see if I could fly
To see if I can reimagine all the colours we owned,
And kiss every line of your face
As I fall.

The Skeleton of the Hawthorn

The highway began to eat the stars
Driving fastly past the Hawthorn trees
We made a wish off the bones
Of the dainty skeleton tree as  it bit the breeze.
Watching the mass of blades
Parade in the dark of night
As it were to close in for a kiss of death
I push away the fires in its warm breath
Shaking branches off and letting love become savage
As the shuffle of the road
Whips in with the wind
The creation of the ladder
Climb up
And bend down the sky
To take a teasing peek at the blinding God.

Funeral Jacket

We wrecked our way to the funeral parlor
And we had drugs in our eyes
We pulled out our wallets from our tucked in dirty slacks
And watched the women cry for criminals
And left dirt all over the tracks
Where lines of people greet the family and the family friends.
God rest this old gigolo
Raised on candy and lipstick flavors
Assailants bump into the crowd and I feel a little claustrophobic
The room becomes a foggy night
I stumble to a flowery patterned sofa
Curled up and about to barf
I sweat over my skin in a funeral jacket.
Midnight swims in my head
And I want my thoughts to be less melodic
And less tragic
So what emotion am I supposed to have,
When my fever chill passes over my broken body?
I'll sip the 2 hour old coffee
From a stained olive green mug
And haunt this room like a mime
Bleeding white paint over my funeral jacket
No clubs or bars open to lay in my brown recluse charm.
I know everyone says at funerals the nice things you've done,
I just want those at mine to say
"Once in Heaven, Once from the circus, Like Always"

Death By Dame

It was a Sunday afternoon
I met this old guy flying by the saloon
In his cadillac falsies.
He was always a smooth talker
Out on the town, selling lies
Like a newspaper made by the town flirt.
Tobacco drips from his mouth and,
he watches Main Street strut to the pounding
of all those rusty trumpets.
His mind will never be that of something but obscene.
He's got pills for it all,
And he's got six divorces
All the motels know him by his name.
The cracks of all the flattery
The stains of all the boiling howls against his skin.
He loves the fishnets and the blue lipstick the most.
He thinks he's got the Midnight by the stilettos
But this night has a .38
Can't dial another number to a name
His death will soon follow by dame.

Save Me From the Bend

There are some afternoons you find yourself on the bend
In a fight, for the attentive eyes of night
Away from sunlight and smothering
Like mucus stuck to skin
Forgetting my gardens, my phaeton drives
My disease of anger,
Can now rest easy.
Wanting the energy of the moon to -
massage my mind.
Hum until the monsters leave
The day feeds all the chewing for fallen angels.
I want to rest in the thoughts of an evening
When anything visible or invisible can breathe
At the parties, alone in shadows
Hushes of the rain
Oh, just save me from the bend.

The Nameless Lust

Your sex was a tyranny
She was a succubus
I still a loner
She was lingerie
And lace like concrete
Skin that burned
I touched her lips
My soul has been sold
Blood thickened when churned
The flicker now a flame
Spreads like wildfire through my bones
She just hides away her head
And I crawl back into my veins.

The Connection & the Split

We become interconnected
Through both bone and blood
Became sweet like pickles
Held each other under perjury moons
and surgery slums.
Then broke apart like sugar cubes
Each sprinkle represented the lost distance.


A warmth of tobacco winds
Blinking lights on broken cars
Sirens crushing glass
Here, the fury of privileged suits
Red hat papas wondering if their sandwich will get cold
during the last moments of Earth.


Leaking out,
Fires from your mind
Is your truth,
Lost to broken dreams?
Erasing feelings
Only leaving fingerprints of your past soul
Scared of your own reflection now,
Lies don't impress
Do you?
Impressions within, lay within
Or all you have become are LIES?

Wolfpack Contributor EIC Bios:  David L O’Nan & HilLesha O’Nan