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Soul Searching by Stuart Sinnott

*Warning: this poem may contain content or language that is unsuitable for younger readers.*

Soul searching spiritually hurting.
The void is growing.
My disease learns what I learn it’s all knowing. It weaves its way into every fabric of my life without showing. Hard to detect it’s cunning and baffling. Parasitical by nature never conforming. Consumes my spirit never giving. Always ungrateful always deceitful. The volume is painful, the silence is deafening. It’s forever walked hand in hand through life with me. Locks my mind in a cage of fear, anger ,resentment and rage. From the outside looking in theres nothing to gage. There’s never enlightenment with a mindset of outright entitlement. It makes me lonely in a room full of family and it isolates me from a positive community. Negatively charged my problems expand ten fold and become outlandishly large. I walk on eggshells and through life I barge. I hide in the shadows and hate crowds when your in charge. You’ll always walk with me, I know this for sure. I fight you daily from the ground floor.

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Mental Health by Stuart Sinnott

*Warning: some of the content or language in this poem may be unsuitable for younger readers.*

Do you remember the day that you said the pain would slowly drift away. And do you remember the time when I couldn’t hold my head up high. Maintaining eye contact became a living hell. I believed you could see my hurt as I hid in my shell. I destroyed my self daily in my own mind. I isolated more and more from the tears inside that I tried to hide. My heart was in turmoil at times I just wanted to die. Terrified of being exposed as some who feels to much I hid behind walls.
The fear increased and stole my inner peace. I reach out and asked for help
I connected to the world again, I had my doubts. You took my hand and sat with me for a while. You sat there patiently caring until I started to smile. You took the time to ask me about me and listened to my woes.
And even when I lost my shit you never closed the door. You said keep connected my friend life has so much more in store.
You helped me address the hurt that’s deep within my core. I shouted out in fear again.
And In a kind voice you calmly stared deep into my eyes, And said Don’t worry my friend.
I’ve walked this path before.
SJS 27/12/2021

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Documentary by Ian Seed

It’s about a man recovering from mental health issues. We watch him as he opens the door of his sheltered housing bungalow, blinking in the sunlight. Next we see him attending a course at the local college. He waves cheekily at us through a classroom window, as if to say, ‘Look! I’m trying to get better – all those taxes you pay for my treatment are not wasted.’ But now he’s walking on a sort of sea of crushed forest, formed from dead trees over millions of years. The sea heaves and swirls. He could be swallowed at any moment. Yet his smile radiates confidence.

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Fodder Beet by Karen Lockney

As usual, sheep graze in the field,
it’s one of those countryside scenes
that we suppose to be English,
but something’s not right, nothing is green.
Just a restricted palette, ruddy earth,
dusty soil rubbing off on the shelf,
drills drawing the eye to the horizon
like in the distance of a masterpiece
from the Low Countries, or in some other
hinterland of the imagination,
where interest is off stage, easily missed.

This is a winter crop, fodder beet,
mangolds left for the sheep to eat
from the ground, or they’re clamped,
sold on, wait in dark barns
to be fed to cattle, while you lie awake
in the small hours and can’t find the good in anything.

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A Conversation with Myself by Steven Heyes

When I talk to myself
I wonder where the thoughts come from
Little unexplored corners of my mind
Hidden from the real world
Imagined topics for exploration
Don’t contribute to the knowledge of the nation
Woolly ideas spring from unknown origin
Banal concepts sally forth
Which I argue for with all my worth
My words are happier when the sun shines
But seem to decline in winters gloom
Odes abound in my head
Like earworms stopping me sleeping
Some written down, some long forgotten
More so now my memory is rotten.

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The Carpenter’s Bench by Wendy Haslam

Among wood shavings and dust
he stands at his bench.
That solid, sturdy bench.
Through the window, light
picks out the weathered surface
it’s history held in deep cuts,
stains of bleeding oil cans and
drips of red undercoat.

With eyes unseeing, he stares
out onto his tiny, tidy patch of green.
Seeing a moment before the bench
before the shed
before this house, this town,
before this wife,
before five children.
Before his mind split open.
Before, when he could speak,
when he could smile.

One moment: when
like all the men
boots thick with mud
a rifle in one hand,
his brother beside him
about to leave the trench.
one moment as the barrage lessened
– short seconds between explosions.
One moment when
he still had a brother.

The scene plays again and again until
a sound unlike war, calls him back.
Wearily he looks around,
runs a hand over the bench-
its solidity, its reality-
before he sees the child,
touches the half finished toy
and begins for a moment
to forget.

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The Weekend House by David Canning

My wife and kids were out of town. I waved them off
and as I returned I am sure it took a few more steps
to walk the length of the garden path,
a brick in the doorstep wobbled like a tooth
and the open door appeared to gape
wider than it has ever done before.

On Saturday I slept in late, didn’t shave,
my unwashed pots formed a crummy stubble,
wore their sheen of milk like a vest,
my coffee cup sported a new brown tattoo
while the kitchen sink seemed to swallow whole
my small family of pots like Gepetto in his whale;
the house flopped about me like a sweater,
and a new echo followed me from room to room.

By Sunday I could ride my bike along the hall,
run time trials up and down its mountainous stairs,
kick a football between its walls;
soon the house had grown so much I could slip
beneath its doors, squeeze through its keyholes,
and if I didn’t take care, I could drop like a needle
down the cracks between the floorboards;
so I retreated to a shoe box beneath the stairs.

On Monday my family returned with noise and play.
They called into the closets and nooks,
rummaged in all the spaces and places
where things are discovered, but it was my wife
who found me in a drawer, neatly rolled,
folded into myself like a pair of socks.

She stretched me out, pressed my arms and legs,
pulled me back into shape with her embrace,
recovered me with kisses, filled me with a knowing smile,
then asked, ‘so what did you do while I was away?’