How Not to Write a Poem about Depression



I guess phoenix metaphors are cliché for a reason
what with all the falling and rising we do,
how every morning I have to kick off the ash 

before I kick off the covers.
But still, I really shouldn’t use cliché.
I really shouldn’t use the type of words 

that everyone understands 

immediately and describe my body 

as some mythical bird
post-flat line, still flying.

I really shouldn’t describe my body 

at all. It’s such an overused device. 

Yet here I am saving all the complex imagery 

for my therapist. She doesn’t seem to much understand

what I have to say anyway, but I think she likes

how I space out the words. How they bounce down

the couch towards her … an avalanche of ellipses.

It’s just so hard to name things, not to mention 

be clever about it.  I just call it “tired” or “confused”
but the literature calls it “compassion fatigue” 

or “relationship OCD”, which is comforting 

because it means there’s a whole circus of us 

even if we stay real quiet.

Even if sadness is just another alternative 

rock song. Even if I am just a barely breathing 

lung, and friends and poems and Prozac 

can only be summed with some lame 

rib cage metaphor, at least we’re out here 


putting words to things. At least we’re out here 

More phoenix than zombie

More rib cage than metaphor.
More words please!
More words please!
More words please!

Please God, let me trap these things inside of me 

with letters so they don’t turn into the kind of bird 

that everyone pretends they can’t name.