Poetry By Joan

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Child of Fear

Who is this child, that hides within,
A foundation built with walls so thin?
Who is this child that must hide,
From all her pain, so deep inside?

Who is this child, that cannot speak,
Of secrets buried, so very deep?
Who is this child that must flee,
From all the pain of reality?

This child of fear;
whose screams are not heard…
This child of fear;
who speaks not a word…
This child of fear;
who is always in pain…
This child of fear;
who has so much shame…

Who is this child, that cries within,
A foundation built with walls so thin?
Who is this child that cannot stay,
So they must hide her and lock her away?

Who is this child, so deeply sedated,
With all the drugs, that she hated?
Who is this child that could not swim,
When the ice cracked and she fell in?

This child of fear;
who hears no music in the night…
This child of fear;
who is frozen with fright…
This child of fear;
who lives in hell…
This child of fear;
who cannot tell…

Who is this child that dies within,
A foundation built, with walls so thin?
Who is this child that sees no light,
That is blinded in the night?

Who is this child that must leave,
Her family, her home, her security?
Who is this child that must deny,
Everything that she feels inside?

This child of fear;
who wants to be saved…
This child of fear;
who lies in a grave…
This child of fear;
who tries harder each time…
This child of fear;
who was left behind…

Who is this child that can’t get back in,
A foundation built, with walls so thin?
Who is this child locked outside,
Without her home, she nearly died?

Who is this child that must wait,
For thicker walls and a pearly gate?
Who is this child, locked out, within,
Drowning because she could not swim?

This child of fear;
who was left outside…
This child of fear;
who some say, died…
This child of fear;
who lays so still…
This child of fear;
was not killed…

~Joan Thorogood
June 1, 1994


Loving You
Many years have come and gone;
Faces flicker and fade.
Precious memories of your life,
Casting shadows in the shade.
Treasured dreams you put aside
For another rainy day.
You made them wait until tomorrow,
But in your heart they stayed.
Dusty books up on the shelf,
The old cat's gaining weight.
Often you'd like to try again
But somehow it seems too late.
You can't erase, once you've begun;
For the future goes on and on.
But wouldn't it be fun again,
To be young again,
To do again what's been done?
So softly shed, the autumns' leaves…
Hardly without notice at all.
In your thoughts they remind you,
Of winters' rising into the sunset of fall.
This brings you to a time in your life,
To reflect and to remember;
That as bitter cold the winter may be,
You have the harvest of September.
It will be there to keep you warm,
And guide you through the snow.
To the harvest you will come,
When you have no place to go.
For this is your special season;
A time to recall and recollect-
The many seasons of your life,
Precious moments you can't forget.
Savor in each minute, Mom.
Let time stand still for you.
Enjoy the harvest as much as you can,
Do the things you've wanted all year to do.
So deep outside the snow.
So hidden away the green.
Not even a bird in sight-
Or a spider on the screen.
The old cat's sleeping softly, now
I think that's what I'll do,
Go to bed and try to dream
Of the days spent loving you.
For winter comes but once
In each of all four seasons;
A time to rest, a time to sleep-
Without warning, without reason.
                       ~Joan B. Thorogood

Music In The Night
I hear the music
In the night,
So soft and sweet
To my ear.
It can put me into another time
Another place
Another mood.
Lingering, only for the moment
Then lost to time.
A rare entity
Which is intangible
Even to those few who possess it.
So familiar
A mixture of sounds and words
Bringing out my deepest sentiments,
Right before my soul.
I can encounter time, that time erased,
When I hear
The music in the night.
~Joan B. Thorogood

Music In The Night
I hear the music
In the night,
So soft and sweet
To my ear.
It can put me into another time
Another place
Another mood.
Lingering, only for the moment
Then lost to time.
A rare entity
Which is intangible
Even to those few who possess it.
So familiar
A mixture of sounds and words
Bringing out my deepest sentiments,
Right before my soul.
I can encounter time, that time erased,
When I hear
The music in the night.
~Joan B. Thorogood
The Evening May Air
~Joan Thorogood
In the breath of the crisp evening May air,
I ease into the season of summers' past.
In balance, once again.
I am captivated by the re-birth;
I too am engulfed within a languid awakening.
It is now so hard to imagine such beauty lay hidden,
Beneath this icy shell…
Frozen in time…
Preserved until the seasons changed.
Until the warmth of the sun,
Beckoned forth each tiny leaf…
Every shoot of grass…
To rise up and live once again!
I hear the calling of the spring…
In my heart…
In my soul…
So softly it whispers to me,
"The time has come to awaken, from the cold, from the fury."
"It is time to dream no longer, within this eternal frozen shell."
This blanket of frost that suspends me,
Slowly melts…
Into the evening May air.
I am not sure when all the ice will thaw,
I am only certain that one day it will…
Given the warmth of the sun, on an evening such as this,
And the warmth of the love, that surrounds me now…
Surely the winter shall not come again…
As I am released from the frost.
~Joan Thorogood
To desire to see through prejudice.
To want to understand, despite ignorance.
To honestly feel with compassion.
To love without judgement.
To embrace the gift of humanity…
We are not labels.
We are not, the symptoms you see.
We have a mental  illness…
But we are not, the mental illness.
We are human.
We suffer with wounded minds,
Not from inferior souls.
We are equal to you.
Equal, in every way that makes us human.
We hope, we cry, we laugh, we love.
We feel emotions.
We have dreams and desires.
We have goals to achieve.
And we possess inner strength.
We have drive and ambition.
We seek to enrich our lives…
Just like you.
We are not,
Defined by written words in a book.
We are not,
A recipe.
We are not,
Who we are numerically "coded" to be…
This is not, who we are.
This is not, what we are. 
We are unique.
We are far more than the confining parameters
Of a psychiatric label…
We are human beings.
When we are ill, we hurt…
Just like you.
Even though you cannot see our injury,
Our pain is very real.
Perhaps this is why we are often perceived,
To be a source of amusement for entertainment,
By those who do not understand this illness.
They cannot comprehend
Their own exploitation of human suffering.
We are human,
But we are forced to live with shame,
And self-hatred.
Not because of who we are,
Because of what others' believe (about mental illness),
And who they perceive us to be.
We have been referred to by hateful names,
Derogatory phrases,
Vicious slang…
"Nuts in a loony bin"
"Raving lunatics"
"Mental case"
We are none of the above.
We are human, just like you.

To disclose that we are afflicted with a mental illness-
Is to jeopardize our acceptance,
Not only as a human being,
But as an equal, credible person in society…
So…we keep silent,
Our illness hidden.
To avoid being stigmatized.
We do not suffer from a deficiency in character,
Or a lack of intelligence;
And the understanding of others-
Is our only inadequacy.
We long for freedom…
The freedom to be human.
The freedom to be considered and treated as a human;
And always…
Just as you are.

Mental illness is a disease that robs us,
Not of who we are.
Not of what we are.
But of who and what you think we are.
At times our perception of reality,
Can be very different from yours.
To us it can feel like a nightmare,
We cannot awaken from.
We are "buried alive",
Not in "madness"…
But often from an imbalance of our brains' chemistry,
That we cannot control.
Our quality of life becomes greatly diminished,
When we are very sick.
When we are ill, we need care…
Just as you would need care.
What does make coping with a mental illness
Seem so unbearable-
Are not only the symptoms that occur.
It is more the stripping of our human dignity,
And lack of human decency we feel-
When we are abused and mistreated.
Belittled and feared.
Cast out and discarded.
Isolated by indifference.
Raped by injustice…
Sadly…we no longer can remain a "human being";
When broken of our spirit…
Nothing else remains.
We were human,
Just like you…
We desired to see through prejudice.
We wanted to understand, despite ignorance.
We felt with compassion.
We loved without judgement.
We forgave,
To forget;
The branding of our souls with a label.
The "Scarlet" label…
Of Mental Illness.

The Sixth Floor
I see the young girl hiding,
Behind a frosted window.
She wants to come out and play,
With her friends.
She wants to run free and be young.
But she cannot.
She cannot come out today…to play…
Or ever.
She is locked inside,
The sixth floor.
I see the young girl,
Starring into space…
Too drugged to know she is alive.
A corpse that carries what is left of her…
Into the room with the purple carpet
And large cushions strewn around.
She stares out from the etched window
And cannot find herself.
She is chased by the biblical demons…
As she becomes absorbed into their world.
She feels that she is evil…
The bible tells her so.
God has made His judgement upon her.

This is hell.
This is her final resting place…
Even though there is no rest.
She is so frightened…here…
In hell.
Why did her parents' bring her here?
Do they too perceive her hideousness?
She is locked away…
Behind the windows…
Behind the world…
On the sixth floor.
She knows she is in hell.
There are three elevators- all in a row.
Six…boldly marked beside each…
She knows she is dead.
She knows this is hell.
All the other people here, must be dead too…
Like her.
Here, she and all the dead, evil people are.
How the frighten her!

She is confined, in a nightmare.
It scares her so much.
She wants to go home!
But they won't let her go!
Her family can only come here,
When they say so…
Only for a short while.
Then she stares out the window
And watches them leave…
Her here…
In hell.
"Why won't they rescue me," she thinks.
Confirmation of her wickedness, she feels.
I see the young girl
Behind the window.
I hear her faint whimper in the night…
Her screams of terror…of horror…
That only I can hear.
She will never come out to play again…
Because she is in hell…
On the sixth floor.
~Joan Thorogood
August 15, 1994

The Terror
I drown myself in memories.
As I choke on the reality
of the sadness
that engulfs me.
Day by day,
hour after hour,
turns into
the realization;
the confirmation,
of my darkest fears.
days spent in hell!
Crying out!
Reaching out!
For someone,
to pull me out;
to save me;
from a never-ending torture.
For years I lived (?),
in a semi-concious state;
never feeling,
For within my emotions
waiting to be unleashed.
which came from sources unknown.
It became safer to feel…
without feeling;
It was best to feel…
an empty flatness.
No highs, no lows…
in between the highs and lows.
To feel emotion
eventually would come the terror.
The highs…
got too high;
the terror lurked within the highs.
It pushed up from the bottom,
it squeezed me,
Crushed me,
In it's grasp.
For sixteen years
I lived high;
or I lived low.
Then came the "miracle drug"…
it let me live flat ,(if you can call that living).
But, it let me exist…
without the terror.
I gave up feeling emotions;
a "price" I paid,
to escape the terror.
But one night last year, the terror surfaced;
through the flatness.
Even flatness was no longer a sanctuary!
I felt the terror engulf me!
I saw a memory.
A long forgotten 
The terror 
Had a face;
I saw its face,
I saw its body,
I saw its entirety.
It frightened me,
To look at it;
And when I did,
The horror
I saw;
The horror
I lived…
I sensed, was the terror that consumed me.
This memory
This terror
I realized,
Was mine.
Like a corpse,
In a hurricane!
Rising up inside of…
I wanted to cleanse myself,
of this rancidness!
But it just kept rising.
This was the terror.
A confrontation with reality, in my soul.
It was all just, too ugly…
too painful…
to look at.
Try as I may
I could not 
Run from it.
The whole sickening truth,
spread out before me;
In plain view of my consciousness!!
I felt naked.
To things I had worked so hard to bury.
All my defenses,
were in overload!
All back-up systems,
The memory revealed itself to me;
the truth,
behind the terror.

There was no 
Turning back…
Shutting the door…
Closing the book…
Running to find a place to hide.
There was nowhere to go,
but into the terror!
Then for the first time,
I saw, as I remembered, what awful things,
he did to me.
I felt and had to witness,
how he held me down.
I felt unbearable pain,
As he kept forcing himself inside me.
Each motion sickened me;
I felt the terror;
I felt my insides
tear apart,
rip apart.
I felt a death
within myself.
was the terror.

My body felt numb;
My soul was,
My soul never felt the terror,
because it was dead;
Leonard murdered it.
Joan B. Thorogood


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