Poetry from Today
Page One

Contributed by individuals with mental illnesses
across the internet especially for this event.
Our special and warm Thank You to All


Bipolar Mother and Son

by Susi McLelland

I never knew your first birthday, or the joy of your fourth;
Too many drugs, valium of choice, too much darkness 
I don't remember your smile, that kindergarten day
Nor do I know how you got that scar on your forehead
I was the devil's consort, or sprite's own twin
While you were growing I missed the inches...
I dallied with razors and strange men in bars
I didn't know, no one did, that I had a life sentence
And a deadly gene

At 40 remission came in little pink pills and I shook off
The hand of satan's clutch and enjoyed you, 
For 15 years.

At 30, I thought you had made it and was jubilant that 
You beat the odds...then you bought the Mercedes, the Land Rover,
The million dollar house, ten of everything, you didn't see me.
You don't remember your 30th birthday. I do, through the tears, but
You weren't there. You were flying with my sprite, same sprite, same dance...

Then you tried 4 times, said this was no quality of life
Said you had lost yourself, you would never find Christian
You embraced the wind, the dark and the insanity
Of a lifetime illness, no cure, no hope.
You missed my 55th birthday, holidays, your own day
You missed my tears over tubes and pumps
You missed your friends silently drifting away,
The return of the cars, the house, the move,

But you are free now...almost....and alive...I don't know why.
But I do know where you have been...in the worst nightmare
You finally fought
You almost found Christian
You will lecture again on the mania of bipolar
As you did to med students while on the floors
Of Duke and UNC and readers of Manic's Dance will say,
"I know that man. He was hit very hard; harder than his mom. Listen to his 
And you will deliver. You are the future. 

biting the bit
yesterday I drove out of town
with my tail and a cup of cold java tucked between my knees
crossing yellow lines because i resented being bridled,
my black V8 screaming down route 29
passing baptist buses praying for me and roadside graveyards
clocking names fo God to pull over
blurring fields of thirsty corn begged my eyes touch
but i had nothing left to give, my tears
and corners run over in the driveway with the cat
collared in her prime
so, windows rolled tight, loud sound stoping
i rode the highway hills like a mad bronc
right hand strapped to the steering wheel daring
to be thrown off my sad saddle
in an arena of gapping dust filled mouthes waiting
for a broken spirit and the blood
biting the bit....

written by jeannine a. shackelton 1999


what ungodly fill this stagnant water,
the earth's drink
down a silent pool's throat
in the smell of summer's heat dripping wilted
sweat like a steam iron over my heart's hole
pressing each vein into a filthy film
blurred clarity.......opaque it's not
forgotten channels chaining thought
inside a soaked pocket of dim pain
stitched within unwelcome weeds and this
deteriorating dimension
is possessed by the razors edge
mudd ladden by still maddness
rusted red and settling
to the bottom......

written by jeannine a. shackelton 1999

crack of the egg.....

a slow silence is breathing times metronome
from distant piano keys
and here i sprawl fractured down
ear to the ground awaiting the sound of hooves
pounding toward my hidden valley
a clamour of Kings horses and Kings men
coming to put me back together again
and once more scale the angry wall
thin faced wearing a brush stoke smile and short skirt
so the boys can see my lace panties

i've already lost my crown innocense on a back alley
roof under a shawl of stars one summer
southwestern night, so i
wonder if my prince stole the gold for money
or a trophey case sitting in some family room
with green shag carpet from the 60's
telling his sons how to bag a bitch
hang and skin her

that was the first crack

so being a good egg i dipped myself in pills
and hid behind a statue of Jesus in a cool cemetary
when the sun announced the hunt
and landed in a basket but they sucked all the yellow out
and i wasn't afraid anymore
just white numb

and the color still suit me well later walking down a
white washed isle in a white church on
a dusty hill
bleeding red down my eyes
and the preist waved over me
making me a weeping dove with stuffed rice maggots
in my mouth and closed the car door

that was the second crack

and there were all the other men,
empty moments like a canvas unfilled
where others press into your life and spill a passionless
pain over the spotless floor
leaving you facing forward in the closet with plastic lies
and a wire hanger around your neck
yet everything looks clean but has torn edges
like a worn out flag
taken down and burned in private,
alliegance is dead in these rooms of deceit
Father forgive me!

that was the third crack.....

written by jeannine a. shackelton 1999

the bridge......

let's go walking together, you and i
toward Juarez in the night of maddness
on the barricaded bridge of
policia' and hell hounds at the gate
dripping black mustaches and smokey eyes
march over the oozing Rio Grande
smelling the bubbles of blood
like illegal aliens climbing the wire fence
heading toward the promise land of ripped flesh
a horror hide,
run to the streets
where dirty children cling at your feet
begging for shoes to spit and shine for a dime
rats for hair and empty sockets stare
eating and swallowing another nights gravel,
slide down the bars
sinking into the Blue Swordfish Cave
dropping like worms into the dim water
teasing the shores bite
that always lets go,
follow the little fat man
waving enter the rusty room of one arms
and needles with curled fists to knock you flat
on a bed of bought time
veins ticking and trickling,
let's empty our soul's in a golden plate by the door
lighting a prayer candle before the night is through
flames licking the mud off our back
searching for the burning bridge to
head home.....

written by jeannine a. shackelton 1999

                           I can do that

                           I can do that!
                         I can do anything,
              You can't stop me, you're not my Father
                       Why don't you join in?
                         Don't be a bore, 
                           I'm going out 
                         You can't stop me
                         Why did I do that?
                       What happened to me? 
                         I'm broken inside 
                      Why didn't you stop me?

                  copyright held by MaryMc. *1999*

Are You Listening?

When the starkness of night turns to grey, 
Do you listen to earth's awakening? 
Suddenly, in all quietude, the world 
Explodes into diverse, melodious tunes. 
The distant coo of the mourning dove... 
Tells us this day to take heed. 
The mockingbird in blatant mimicry... 
Intones to deaf ears. 
The plaintive call of the chickadee... 
Sings, Hear me, Hear me, all day long. 
Our fine feathered friends chorus... 
Savor this Day! 
Are YOU listening? 


Prozac Daze

The eighties were a haze of
Prozac daze and sleepless nights,
panic stricken midnight flights!
Razor cuts into the vein,
not to lose, not to gain;
simply just to ease my pain.
Mania’s maddening! Depression kills!
Anti-depressants-Pills! Pills! Pills!
Stomach pumped! Failed again!
Please forgive me for my sin
Psychiatrist say’s, “ Just forget!”
Damn his wry, sardonic wit!
Once is all I can survive!
When I’m dead, I’m still alive!
End this agonizing  phase!
Deliver me from Prozac daze!

Copyright 1999 Susan Maree Jeavons


I'm rocking, rocking
 day and night,
staring blankly
 black and white
no emotions
 no more fight.
 drains my  soul
no more passion
 no more goals.
Death is waiting
 within me
Do not enter
 hear my plea
I'm alone
 with reality

  ©1999 Susan Maree Jeavons

Suicidal Chase
Susan Maree

The shadow’s dissipating,
moving slowly out of mind.
Yet I find I'm still  in misery
and escape I can not find.
Oh the memories, haunting
memories, will they ever
cease to be? I am running,
ever running, and the past
is chasing me...
 ©1999 Susan Maree Jeavons

The Mask

You see me as rational,
as witty, warm and wise
but underneath the mask I wear
another spirit cries.

You see me as a champion,
you put your faith in me
but underneath the mask I wear
defeat is all I see.

You see me as a survivor
who's mastered all the pain
but underneath the mask I wear
I think I am insane...

©1999 Susan Maree Jeavons

I am standing with you
Side by side
Sent here to protect you
To be your guide
Your Guardian Angel
I will never hide

I promise to give you 
The strength you need
To keep you protected
While you accomplish your deeds
Your Guardian Angel
I will be here to lead

Do not be afraid
I promise to stay
No matter how long it takes
Forget all your fears
Your Guardian Angel 
I am always right here

Beth Henley


It seems that I have always travelled the path of sharpest stone 
never was the way soft to my feet 
even the branches of the path were as shattered glass 

and so I came across a pair of boots 
magical they seemed 
as if made of the finest goatskin 
they caressed my bones 
and chased the dreams away 

these boots though soft 
had a will of their own 
not many nights had passed 
before I wore them even to bed 

the miles moved under my feet 
and the path became furious and fast 
and distrustful 

soon pieces of gravel 
found their way into the most obscure cracks 
and itched and scratched my feet 
which had become soft without protection of their own 

new soles were nailed to the bottoms 
so I would be ever farther from the path 
more insulated from the sensation of walking 

then thicker soles and thicker again 
until, like Troy, even the journey stopped 
no one was asked for help 
so fearful was I that they might steal these leathers 

as the life inside my soul ebbed 
friends without guile 
gently slipped them from my weary feet 

walking the path of glass 
caused countless tiny cuts to form and bleed 
leaving a trail of my pain behind me 

friends without shame 
massaged the oil of their love nto my soul 
the cuts still formed but healing came faster 
until I walked the path 
head held high 
having learned to accept the pain of the journey 
as my reward for removing the boots 
of other travellers 

ef    apr 1996 

"Distorted Images"


Cradle me inside your arms,

Protect me from this hell.

Keep me safe, away from harm,

The harm I know so well.

Reflections staring back at me,

A face painted with shame.

The distorted image that I see,

Reveals a heart that is cold and gray.

I hope one day to find a love,

A love to make me strong.

A love to help me heal my pain,

A love to whom I'll always belong.

But, until then I will strive,

To survive this world in which I live.

I will strive to stay alive,

and find contentment from within...



My Sins...

My mind full of sin,
I kneel down and pray.
Hoping that God,
will save me today.

Locked in my dark cage,
searching for the key,
waiting for my saviour,
to please rescue me.

Lost in my chaotic mind
"God, are you real?"
"Am I wrong for asking?"
"Do you know how I feel?"

"Please Lord, forgive me,
for my world full of sin"
"Don't leave me, my Lord,
this dark battle comes from within..."