A Book Review for “Washed Away – a collection of fragments” by Shiksha Dheda review by Spriha Kant

https://tinyurl.com/czrd3c3r to purchase a copy!

                                                          Book Review by “Spriha Kant”

The book “Washed Away- a collection of fragments”, published by the publishing house “Alien Buddha Press”, is a book reciting the journey of the physical and metaphysical struggle experienced with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (and Depression) by the poetess “Shiksha Dheda”. The poetess desires to make the readers understand her journey and support her which she stated in the following stanzas in the foreword section:

“I want the reader to join me on my journey: why I feel the disorder galloped into existence, how this disorder has been sustained and how I view the future living alongside this disorder.”

“Join me as I try to salvage that which survives; that which persists – refusing to accept defeat.”

The poetess also bared the reason she kept the title of her book “Washed Away: a collection of fragments” in the foreword section:

“Every day, it is as though my personality is being eroded [washed away] by these disorder(s); I have to heal [rebuild/regrow] from the wounds or gaps that it leaves in my life.” 
Also, this poetry book is fragmented into three sections. The first section is “Soap Lathering”, the middle section is “Rinsing”, and the final section is “Drying”. Each section is a collection of poetries describing the different phases of her journey. She named each section according to the stages of “handwashing” which was emphasized during the COVID-19 pandemic. This indicates the reason she chose the words “a collection of fragments” in the title of this book.

The poetess used concise language to acknowledge the readers with her journey. She left no stone unturned in covering her journey’s depth from each aspect.

In a few poetries, the poetess gave glimpses of the symptoms of her disorder, one of which is in the poetry “Why am I, mother?”, a few lines reflecting this are:

“I am standing on the threshold of sanity, mother”

“I am standing on the outskirts of normalcy, mother 
   with invisible rain drenching my face.”

“I can’t recognize myself anymore.”

The poetess in some of the poetries even did a stinging satire on society's negative attitude towards those suffering from mental disorders and the falling of such patients into the stygian abyss due to their cornering by society.
One of the poetries covering this angle is “Shadow”, as quoted below:

“Irrespective of where I stood, 
  the shadow of my personality always 
  seemed to mar their brightness. 
  I retreated to the darkness instead. 
  I retreated to the darkness instead.”

The poetess in some of her poetries openly exposed her shattered condition with a few hard-hitting words, one of the poetries covering this is “Phobia” as quoted below:

“I don’t think I was that afraid of 
  heights or germs or even 
  of intimacy. 

  I was afraid of the most probable, 
  likeliest, most commonplace 
  thing of all: 
  living”

The poetess in a few of her poetries gave details on how her mind used to keep on drowning in a labyrinth of unrealistic quests and dreams and hallucinations, especially at night making her nights sleepless and without peace. This side of hers can be felt in K.P. DeLaney’s poetry “I Have Insomnia” from his poetry book “Swill and Daffodils”:

“I took a swim in the river.	
  the bottom kept changing
  and I lost my feet.
  I haven’t slept right 
  ever since.”

The poetess in some of her poetry gave details on how the constant haunting of her past made her stagnant water. One of the poetries reflecting this is “Old Things” as quoted below:

             “I tried new things 
but the carcass of the old things 
              took up too 
              much space”

The poetess not only confined herself to using imagery metaphors and personifications but she also used oxymorons which most poets and poetesses are still not able to do, one of the lines in which the poetess used oxymoron is quoted below:

“A silent friend singing praise of my strangeness.”



The poetess in her poetry “Attached” also shone a light on that point when she started feeling uncertain about her recovery and started considering this as her inexorable journey, a few stanzas quoted from this piece below:


“I wondered often: 
 is my disorder as attached to me 
 as I am to it? 
 Would it leave me 
 as easily as it had joined me? 

 Or would we have to live like this 
 forever?”

Even amidst all the vulnerabilities and shattered phases that the poetess was undergoing, the poetess had the desire and courage to overcome and to become a person like she used to be before her disorder as she reflected this in a few of her poetries, quoting a few stanzas from her poetry “Crumbs” and a few lines from her poetry “Difficult (re)introductions” reflecting this side of the poetess,

A few stanzas from the poetry “Crumbs”:

“It's like this disorder had systematically hollowed 
  out my personality. 
  Eroding and rusting 
  all my likes and dislikes 
  —           leaving behind only remnants, 

  crumbs. 

  Somehow, 
  I had to make a meal 
  —food—
  —sustenance—
  —life—

   from these 
   crumbs.” 

A few lines from the poetry “Difficult (re)introductions”:

“Introduce me to me, 

  like old days, 
  like how I used to be.”

The poetess however started feeling optimistic lately as she expressed in a few of her poetries, one such poetry is “Butterfly” as quoted below:

“And just as the caterpillar 
  became a butterfly, 
       life didn't seem like a burden anymore. 
              It flew with small pretty wings. 
              Even if just for a short while.”

The poetess deserves to be highly praised for boldly facing her mental illness and for inspiring many people undergoing such phase directly/indirectly through this book by exposing this phase of her openly that most people are still not able to which is reflected in her poetry “Under Lock and Key”, quoting a few lines showing glimpses of the reflection:

  “What if they think I am a freak? What if they lock me up and throw away     
     the key?”

    “What if I am made to live inside another prison? A prison outside of my   
      mind. A prison I can’t recognize. A prison I can’t wash away.”

It is high time society considers removing mental illness as a “taboo issue” and treats the patients suffering from mental illness with kindness and empathy. 



Bio: Shiksha Dheda uses poetry(mostly) to express her OCD and depression roller-coaster ventures. Sometimes, she dabbles in photography, painting, and baking lopsided layered cakes. 
Her work has been featured (on/forthcoming) in Off Menu Press, The Daily Drunk, The Kalahari Review, Brave Voices, Anti-heroin Chic, Versification, and elsewhere. Twitter: @ShikshaWrites

Bio for Spriha Kant (reviewer):  developed an interest in reading and writing poetries at a very tender age. Her poetry "The Seashell" was first published online in the "Imaginary Land Stories" on August 8, 2020, by Sunmeet Singh. She has been a part of Stuart Matthew’s anthologies “Sing, Do the birds of Spring” and “A Whisper Of Your Love” in the fourth and fifth series of the books from #InstantEternal poetry prompts. She has been featured in the Bob Dylan-inspired anthology “Hard Rain Poetry: Forever Dylan” by the founder and editor of the website “Fevers of the Mind Poetry and Art” David L O’ Nan. Her poetries have been published in the anthology “Bare Bones Writing Issue 1: Fevers of the Mind”. Paul Brookes has featured her poetry, “A Monstrous Shadow” as the “Seventh Synergy” in “SYNERGY: CALLING ALL WRITERS WHO ARE PHOTOGRAPHERS” on his blog “Wombwell Rainbow”. She has been featured in the “Quick-9 interview” on feversofthemind.com by David L’O Nan. Paul Brookes has featured some of her poetries on his blog “Wombwell Rainbow” including Acrostic poetry “A Rainstorm”, the Alphabet poem “I am an independent Happy Single Woman”, “Travel in the laps of Nature” on National Poetry Day, “Giving Up The Smooch” for World Suicide Prevention Day, and “I love your smile” for World Smile Day. She has reviewed the poetry books “Silence From The Shadows” by Stuart Matthews and “Spaces” by Clive Gresswell.  She has been a part of the event that celebrated the #1 Amazon New Release of the debut poetry book of Jeff Flesch “Nature Speaks of Love and Sorrow” by lending her poetic response “Stay Away” to one of the poetries in the book “Love’s Trials” on Jeff Flesch’s website.


A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Lily Maureen O’Nan (author of “Cracked Around the Edges”)

Bio: My name is Lily Maureen O’Nan. I am a genderfluid transfeminine writer, artist, musician, and a double major in sociology and psychology with a minor in gender studies. I’m also multiply neurodivergent, but place emphasis on Autism. I am the sister of David O’Nan. My pronouns are they/them and she/her. I write a variety of genres, and have one self-published book entitled Cracked Around the Edges. https://transdisciplinaryneurodiversity.blogspot.com/2022/03/name-is-lily-maureen-onan-and-i-am.html?sm_au=iVVrZppJZf6F0kVMHtJqHK0qJ6jF1 Twitter @LilyMONan

https://www.lulu.com/shop/lily-maureen-onan/cracked-around-the-edges/paperback/product-2y8qd4.html?page=1&pageSize=4

1. When did you start writing and whom influenced you the most?

Lily: I started writing philosophical rants down on paper when I was 14 or 15 after being told I think existentially by my therapist at the time. Soon after, I started writing my signature stream-of-consciousness poetry, which has evolved significantly over the years. I have always been most influenced by Beat literature, so I would say that Kerouac created the foundation for me to become the writer that I am today, however, more recently, I would say Ada Hoffman has been a huge influence on me and got me interested in the genre of speculative fiction written by Autistic authors. 

2. Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Lily: Honestly, I have somewhat known that I wanted to be a writer since I was a teenager, but I did not fully commit to writing completely until I went back to university, published my first book, and started work on more projects. After having won a scholarship for a grant that I wrote for about disability and adversity, I feel like an accomplished writer in academia, and that gave me more confidence to work on my own personal writings.

3. Who has helped you most with writing and career?

Lily: I would have to say that my book would not have been published if I did not have my nesting partner, Jessica, as co-editor to format the book correctly. I also have to thank my brother, David, for being a strong support, and the late Bill Sovern for giving me a stage when I needed it.

4. Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels influenced your work?

Lily: I grew up in a very small town in Kentucky called Sebree and it influences a lot of my work, as it was not a pleasant place to live, so I had to use many forms of escapism to deal with the trauma, therefore, it is reflected in my work a lot. I also spent a short time in New Orleans growing up, and that has also had a significant influence on my work because it gave me a taste of various cultures and subcultures that I would have otherwise not been introduced to. As far as travels go, Chicago has indirectly influenced my work through a past polyamorous relationship that did not work out as planned.

5. What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you?

Lily: My most meaningful work has yet to be published, but it would have to be a flash speculative fiction piece that I wrote. Most of my poetry is untitled.

6. Favorite activities to relax?

Lily: I am a voracious reader. When I am not doing schoolwork, I am reading for pleasure or developing my social life more. Listening to music and social media are other ways I choose to relax, and honestly, I write to relax at times.

7. What is your favorite line/stanza/lyric from your writing?

Lily: I cannot reveal my favorite line from my writings, as the piece has not been published yet.

8. What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song or songs that always come back to you as an inspiration?

Lily: I would have to say that I am most inspired by industrial and folk music. There are quite a few songs that come to mind as an inspiration, such as “Venus in Furs” by The Velvet Underground and “Waitin’ Around to Die” by Townes van Zandt. Lately, I have been listening to “History is Everyone’s Fuck” by Street Sects a lot and it is inspiring me to want to start a new music project.

9. Do you have any recent or upcoming books, music, events, projects that you would like to promote?

Lily: I am working on a book of poetry, a collection of flash speculative fiction, a memoir, and possibly a book of essays. I read poetry at The Bokeh Lounge, and you can more than likely find me at Poetry Speaks. I have read there during the past two events. I am also considering starting a new music project.

Bonus Question: Any funny or strange occurrence you’d like to share during your creative journey?

Lily: I got mistaken for a friend of mine at Poetry Speaks while being called to the stage, so that was kind of humorous. 

New Poetry book “Cracked Around the Edges” from Lily Maureen O’Nan (info from Lulu site)

New poem by Lily Maureen O’Nan

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Cracked_Around_the_Edges_Selected_Poems_2015_2019?id=kshqEAAAQBAJ&hl=en_US&gl=US

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bare-bones-writing-issue-1-david-l-onan/1141994348

For Lily’s Twitter and links to her blog!

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cracked-around-the-edges-lily-maureen-onan/1141347779

A Poetry Showcase for John Zurn August 2022

From Pixabay

Rising from the Ashes

Streaking down through fiery clouds,
the lightning bolt of mind
crashes through the sea of doubt
with wild and frantic cries.
But from the terror of this death,
the mind may soon ascend
and glimpse upon the heavens
to absorb the light again.


Make Believe

The magic world of make-believe
is meant for only children.
When grown-ups try to do the same,
they live a life of torment.
So we write our inner thoughts
in special cardboard journals.
No one cares about the words-
our rhyme of black and purple.


Delusions

Delusions were a way to live
that always served a purpose.
Subjective like a vision,
they always felt so certain.
But now I know the terror
of such a strange ordeal.
Luckily this error
no longer has appeal.

Caustic Brain

This caustic brain breeds chemicals
that taint my thoughts and feelings.
They reek and stifle constantly
and blister moods and reason.
My genes resemble poison jello,
so neurons pause and even stop.
But even if the waves are stalling,
the Blessed Spirit overcomes.


Short third person bio:
John Zurn has been faced with the challenges of bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder for his entire adult life.  Over the years he gradually learned that: medication, physical exercise, meditation and creative writing were vital for his long term recovery. Despite this challenge, he still managed to work as a teacher and counselor for over thirty-five years. Now retired, he has more time to write and publish poems and stories. 


Other links: Poetry Showcase for John Zurn




Lack of updates update

Right as I was ready to start a huge project. The Bare Bones Writing Anthology series print anthologies. As well as keeping updates on here. Being a Father, Husband, Working a 40 hour a week job, and everything that encompasses. We have recently (the last month or two) have began being harassed, stalked, threatened, baited into near fights but outside domestic arguments by a neighbor across from us and friends with neighbors that lived above us. This all began just because my daughter and his daughter couldn’t get along. The father of his daughter has since tried to make our lives hell with constant intimidations towards my 10 year old daughter. Including stomping, calling her names, brandishing a butcher knife when we weren’t around and gesturing stabbing motions that my daughter saw. He stays out at all times of the night with his camera/videotaping us with his camera phone no matter what we are doing. He knows my family is mixed and feel that he is already a bully, but also a racist bully, but also psychotic. As we are trying to work through this please understand that some things may be delayed for awhile since my concentration isn’t fully here right now. I will update as I can, however the anthologies may be delayed a little longer.

3 Poems from J. Maxwell

From Pixabay

Wandering Mind

Sometimes I get distracted… 
Like when I'm talking about one thing 
I'll jump to the next chapter,
Skipping pages like stones.
I like gemstones,
The way they glisten and gleam 
When the light hits them just right, 
I'm not sure if I’ve been hit by light that way before. 
I guess that's not for me to decide, 
Beauty is supposed to belong to the eye of the beholder, 
A subjective paradox 
Since we're all supposedly beautiful in our own way.
Does that mean we're all blind?
I'm grateful blindness was not bestowed on my eyes 
That I have the ability to see the many wonders of the world:
A butterfly landing on a lily,
A waterfall cascading over a rockface,
The sun setting over the ocean,
A crackling fire on the beach,
The full moon on a cloudless night,
The impact circles of raindrops in a puddle,
All the colors of a perfect rainbow. 
Thinking about it, I've taken so much for granted, 
Taken so many moments at face value. 
I wonder why the phrase is face value – 
I know we spend a lot of time looking at faces,
But does that make them more valuable?
You don't hear people selling faces on the black market. 
And why is it the black market? 
It sounds racially charged.
Like, why not the red market or the blue market, 
Or for fucks sake, just call it the illegal market. 
Get rid of the color labels altogether 
Even fucking T-shirts are made labelless.
Did you know T-shirts were originally made for single guys 
Who didn't know how to iron shirts?
I wonder what my wardrobe would look like if it weren't for T-shirts 
Would I be wearing nothing but button-ups?
I hate button-ups.
This one time when I was a kid 
I hit all the buttons on the elevator. 
There were 16 floors,
We had to go to the 12th.
My mom wasn't happy.
It's hard to be happy;
Happiness is dependent on serotonin levels in the brain, 
Those levels are a fickle beast,
Rising and falling with the slightest misfire of neurons. 
Medication can help, I would know, 
I take a handful of pills every day to help with my insanity,
But sometimes I think sanity is overrated.
I just wish the pills didn't come with the side effects
Oh, the things we do to be happy.
People tell me it's normal to be happy,
But I want to know how that’s normal 
In a world of chaos and despair.
It seems normalcy should be a state of melancholy.
I used to wonder what normal meant,
It's such a vague term 
Defined by standards that no one meets,
And sets expectations that no one lives up to,
Another subjective concept.
So much in life is subjective,
Like our perspectives are all disconnected,
Despite being part of the collective. 
Group is a synonym of collective, 
But if you look them up, they have different meanings,
I guess it comes down to context.
What was I talking about? 
Damn… I guess I got ahead of myself again 
I wish I could hold my place 
Instead of rambling on tangent after tangent 
Segueing from one unfinished thought into another 
I never liked the Segway 
Just some fancy device for rich people and mall cops 
So they don't have to walk.
I like walking,
Preferably in nature.
Something about getting away from everything is calming,
Getting away from the hustle and bustle,
Away from the daily-life lies where we're all pretending, 
Pretending that we're something other than who we really are.
When I was a kid, I used to pretend I was in a far away place 
Full of adventure and intrigue,
And I was always the hero, but never myself.
I'm not sure if I have the qualifications to be a hero
I guess I felt the same as a child.
Children are cruel,
Unfiltered and ignorant to what words can do.
It wasn't easy being the chubby kid,
Especially when I was considered weird too.
It's weird how we ostracize those who are different 
When those are the people 
That have the best chance to change the world.
Progress doesn't happen without change,
You think we'd know that by now,
Seeing as how we have to change with the times.
I remember reading this article in the times
It was about something important 
Oh, what was it
It's on the tip of my tongue… Shit! 
Sometimes I have trouble remembering things.
It's like the thoughts get scrambled on route to coming out.
I prefer my eggs scrambled,
A little milk and a dash of salt and pepper,
Whisked together and cooked with butter, 
I wonder when the first scrambled egg was cooked. 
That person gets a gold star.
Wasn't I talking about something?
It was a concrete thought, 
Something firm like stone, 
Oh yeah, I think rocks are cool.
Sorry, my mind tends to wander,
It’s a wonder if I ever finish a thought.
Have you heard the phrase: “A penny for your thoughts,”
It’s always bothered me,
I’ve always valued my thoughts as more than a penny.
Did you know pennies were once made of steel?
It was during World War II due to the shortage of copper
When I was in my teens, I used to steal things,
I called it the five-finger deal,
Now that I’m older I feel a little guilty about that.
Getting older sucks,
Have to watch what you eat,
Your body starts failing you,
Sleep is more difficult,
I already have enough trouble sleeping as it is.
Insomnia is a bitch.
It comes from the Latin language,
Latin was spoken by the romans,
Man, the romans really knew how to live.
In my 20s I lived like a rockstar,
12-inch rails of coke with whisky chasers.
These days I take 12 vitamins chased with water.
The water molecule has 2 hydrogen atoms,
And 1 oxygen atom.
It’s crazy that everything is made of atoms,
And all atoms are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons,
And all of those are made of quarks.
Wait… I don’t know where I was going with that.
Sometimes I start talking
Without knowing what point I’m trying to make,
My mind wandering along.
I used to wander forests as a child
Appreciating the lush nature,
Moss and ivy and grass and trees.
I love trees,
The way they mirror themselves,
The way they branch out
Above and below,
Far-reaching.
I wonder when I’ll reach my full potential,
Hopefully that hasn’t happened already,
I still feel like I have more growing to do.
I wonder if anyone has ever reached their full potential,
What the fuck does that even look like or feel like?
I guess I find it unlikely
Kind of like the idea of perfection.
Perfection to me isn’t the same as perfection to you
Which is perfectly normal
Because we’re all imperfectly abnormal.
Perfect is such a loaded term anyways
A generalized abstraction of a watered-down preconception.
I’ve always been a big fan of abstract art,
Escher was always one of my favorites,
The way he could bend reality,
With mathematical precision.
Math and I have always had a strained relationship,
We always understood that we didn’t like each other,
It’s a language I never grew fond of.
I’m quite fond of the English language
There’s a certain beauty in its overly complex lexicon,
I’m told it’s difficult to learn for non-native speakers.
Something to do with all the homophones and homonyms.
I spend a lot of time on my phone these days
Caught in a digital daze,
Trying to connect to something virtually,
While I disconnect spiritually,
The separation growing ever wider with each passing moment,
Eyes glued to the pocket-sized screen,
Though it held all the secrets to my life’s greatest mysteries,
As the world keeps turning,
And the minutes keep passing,
And I can’t stop scrolling.
How did we start this conversation?
Sorry… I have a problem with attention,
My focus can be a bit fleeting. 

Impostor Syndrome

I ‘m not sure if I’m as good as I should be,
M aybe I’m terrible,
P erhaps everyone else is better,
O r maybe I’m just reaching at a fruitless dream,
S imply deluding myself with thoughts of grandeur
T hat lead me to false beliefs,
O r is this all just noise
R eticulating in my head.

S o many things left undone due to personal disdain,
Y et so many things were still made,
N ever to see the light of day,
D rowned out by the sea of melancholy,
R enasant to consider myself as anything more than average,
O r is this just more noise,
M ore disbelief of my lackluster talents,
E nigmatic and frustrating, difficult to rise above the doubt.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

P ieces of the past
O bfuscate reality,
S lipping from then to now,
T aking the moment hostage.

T urning the tide,
R eticulating the psyche,
A separation from oneself,
U ndulating, a visceral disconnection
M omentarily suspended in a memory,
A ll the feelings, thoughts, sensory perceptions
T aking over without warning,
I nstantaneous and spontaneous,
C rippling the mood.

S ometimes it’s a simple matter,
T o hear, see, or smell something familiar,
R eminding the subconscious,
E ntering the deepest pits of the mind,
S uddenly gripped by experiences,
S ome would sooner forget.

D etached and distant,
I t’s hard to come back the same,
S till caught in the storm of emotion,
O verwhelmed by the memory relived,
R epeating the details in a loop,
D isoriented from the discordant experience,
E ver in awe that the mind can replicate a moment,
R endered helpless every time it happens.



Bio: 

J. Maxwell was born in Bellevue, WA in the summer of 1990. Just before his 7th birthday, his family moved to Las Vegas, NV. It was quite the change for him, going from a place that was so green and damp to a dry desert valley. Growing up in Vegas was a diferent experience than most other places in the world, being that it is a city that thrives on extravagance, debauchery, and the vacation lifestyle. When he was in middle school he started writing which became an outlet for him, one that saved his life from his undiagnosed mental health issues. At 18, he left Las Vegas and went north to Reno, NV, where he attended  the University of Nevada, Reno. He completed a dual major degree focusing in Creative Writing and in Philosophy, graduating in 2014. He now lives in Fort Worth, TX where he had his first book published SOBER THOUGHTS FROM THE CRAZY HOUSE which is a collection of poetry dedicated to mental illness, addiction, and sobriety. J. Maxwell not only writes, but also enjoys nature photography and making digital art.


Follow Me Here:
Facebook.com/jmaxwellwriterandillustrator
Instagram.com/jmaxwell.artandwriting
Twitter.com/JMaxwell_Writer