The Art of Depression: Lauren Scharhag

Artist:

Lauren Scharhag

Paper Wasps

Peak housewife era, when television taught that

women were supposed to wear heels and a smile

to vacuum, arrange doilies, make molded

strawberry salad from a Good Housekeeping recipe.

If you didn’t like it, you still had to abide it.

But she enjoyed laundry, even when she was young,

bent over a zinc tub, scrubbing clothes out on a washboard

alongside her own grandmother, who used to give her

a glass of beer as they worked (later bouts

of alcoholism notwithstanding). She always said

she associated the scents of hops and brewer’s yeast

with her grandmother, and decades later,

that washboard still hung on her kitchen wall.

When she got her first electric machine, she still

hung everything out to dry, lighter fabrics semi-transparent

in the sundrenched yard, aromatic with pepper

and tomato plants, her sundress semi-transparent

as she turns, bends, lifts the fabrics to the line.

She either didn’t notice or didn’t think anything of

a wasp perched black and gold on the head of a clothespin,

like the old absurdity about pinheads and dancing angels,

only this one was, at best, the avenging variety, and,

at worst, batting for the other team,

with the infernal whine of its drained stained-glass wings,

that first sting white-hot as judgment, and they just

keep coming: the nest in the hollow metal post

of the clothesline, gray honeycomb scarcely visible

through the opening, and everything is light light light

until she passes out.

When she wakes, there will be ice packs for the swelling,

baking soda pastes, her then-husband with tweezers

to pluck out the stingers that broke off in her skin.

I was always amazed that she could go on after that,

hanging her laundry out to dry right up until 1987

when her last husband left her, and her demons

began to overrun her skull. Yet, somehow,

she never stopped finding godliness in clean sheets,

in the scents of bleach and fabric softener.

These are the scents I associate with her.

It took me a while to realize why her demons won.

There was no joy in her life that they

couldn’t worm their way into, plant

their insidious nest, and wait to swarm.

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The Art of Depression: Adebisi Amori

Artist:

Adebisi Amori

Follow Her Work:

Instagram: @thereal_adebisi

Tumblr: coloursintherain.tumblr.com

A Letter For the Bad Days 


Dear me,    

I write this in one of those moments where everything doesn’t feel dark and I feel the warmth of the sunshine on on my face as the dark clouds have gone.. maybe it might only be for now.    I’m hoping that if and when I read this, it gives me hope that no matter how dark that moment is, there is always light. There is always hope. There is always strength and I’m capable of reaching it.    

If anyone had told me I’d ever have the courage or strength to write this about a month ago, I’d have said it was impossible and that my life was hopeless….but now, I know better.  Maybe tomorrow, it’ll get all dark and I’ll try to swallow the tears as I tell everyone I’m fine because they simply won’t understand, I know that it will get better and I WILL BE FINE, because it’s the truth.    

Most importantly, despite the words the voices in your head might tell you, know that you are loved, you are loved and you are always going to be loved,and even in your weakness, you are still wanted.  

Love,  

Me. 

The Art of Depression: Dylan Newitt Allen

Artist:

Dylan Newitt Allen

Raised in Erwin, NC, Dylan Newitt Allen received his BFA from East Carolina University, where he served as an intern for the North Carolina Literary Review (NCLR). He enjoys connecting with other writers through social media and advocating their work.

Follow His Work:

Twitter: @AllenNewitt

Or

Check out Volume 6, Issue 1 of The Lookout

Seasonal Depression

It is summer, and the days drag by like

a midnight sun while the background world

burns beneath a magnifying glass

for an atmosphere.

Who knew that orange over yellow

could be so cruel? A tangerine eye

unblinking, following me everywhere

I go, broken by my shape, a shadow.

Life is oil separated from water,

floating but not absorbed, and there

are moments where the sea

outside my window becomes too real.

Besmeared with dead salt,

I traverse asphalt and melt like wax;

the copper streams in the belly

of my arm boil as if they are mercury.

In retrograde, I slip away from who

I am: an echo within an echo

within an echo, a copy of a copy,

smoldering like a Polaroid.

My hands, my lungs, my body

betrays itself, giving into the deadly torch

sparked by a match, a slow ember 

blackening me, cyclones release

as I inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale

in hell, I count candles and watch

the propeller above me spin,

and in my clothing, I am a house on fire.

The Art of Depression: David Estringel

Artist:

David Estringel “The Booky Man”

“Smooth Whiskey” (originally published by Cephalopress)

tick…tock

tick…tock

The days are long in a life of slow motion. Waking up takes too long, despite the violent assaults of the alarm clock, unchained by a snooze button—-like me—worn down to the circuitry.

tick…tock

tick…tock

Get up late, again. Take a whore bath in the bathroom sink. Wash what needs it and get out the door. Shower’d be nice…really nice. Maybe tomorrow. Probably not, again.

tick…tock

tick…tock

Office clocks–harbingers of death to my soul–lament the dying of the fire, within. Telephone rings perforate the recirculated air of lungs and mouths like a symphony of electric crickets, tuning-up beneath the hepatic glow of fluorescent suns outside my cubicle’s walls.

tick…tock

tick…tock

Driving home in the same car, down the same roads, in the same rancid clothes that need more than just a good airing out, stuck in this bad track mix, playing on a loop, I need a drink. There’s a bottle at home. Whiskey, I think–a gift for my 50th. It goes down, rough, but smooth, after a glass or two or three.

Smooth is good in a life of no motion.

tick…tock

tick…tock

(Repeat All)

“Blue Room” (published by Former People Journal)

Nights are hardest to bear,

alone, atop these unwashed sheets

that smell of you and me, still,

crinkled and heavy with ghosts

of our sweat and loving juices.

I am tethered

to flashes of smiles and kisses

that linger beneath the sweetness of heated exhales.

To smell your breath, again,

and taste you on the back of my tongue.

To pull you into me by the small of your back

and sink into the warmth of white musk–

a tangle of tongues, fingers, and limbs.

To have you, know you, again,

Inside and out, is all I want.

Need.

Laying here, drowning in us,

my legs brush against the cold rustle of sheets you left behind,

cutting the airlessness of this room.

Rolling over, I close my eyes

and sink my face into the depths of your pillow,

escaping the void that even silence’s ring has forgotten,

and take you in, drowning in us,

this lover’s kaddish.

The scent of your hair—

blue fig and oranges—and spit,

 are but pebbles on the gravestone.

“Gin & Tonic on a Sunday Afternoon” (previously published at Salt Ink)

Bitter on the lips,

spirits of juniper berries

bless and honey tongues

with a bite and fire.

Sugared words

that have long abandoned us

take wing in ambrosial flight

from our dark corners–

winter suns–

thawing the frost

that hardens our hearts

and tender fingertips.

Chestnut hair falls before your eyes,

as you read, biting your lip—

the smell of you,

tearing like a machete

through bands of cigarette smoke

that haunt the air between us.

You go to the kitchen to make us another drink.

Suckin’ gin from ice cubes,

I sit,

worshiping you, silently,

in reverie

for letting me miss you,

again.

But that’s the story of you and I–

hard to swallow

save these fleeting moments–

like bubbles

at the back of the throat

that make us smile.

Looking out the window,

clouds drifting across pale azure,

I wonder where the hell I’ve been all this time,

as crickets join the fun—

even if just for a while.

“Storms” (originally published at Cajun Mutt Press)

We live for moments like this,

you and I,

cooled by the safe-silence

of deadened air–

a stillness so heavy

it falls,

crashing around our feet

with the tumult

of resting heartbeats.

I can think.

You can breathe.

We can just…be

for a moment,

until…

But nothing lasts forever

in the eye.

Tears—like rain—must fall,

staining,

tattering cheeks

and lips,

eroding the ground

beneath us,

where we stand.

And that deadly call

within me—

like the wind—

must howl,

breaking the chain of calm

that threatens

to drown

me

in the deep

of my own waters.

Nothing

can save us.

Not you.

Not me.

Not all the friends in the world.

I am lost

without the thunder.

Without the swell

and crashing of waves.

The murk

that lies

beneath the surface.

My quiet slips away

and I

howl…

driving you,

lovingly,

to warm shelter

away

from me

and my storms.

Just remember me, fondly,

dear friend…when it rains.

The Art of Depression: Kelsey Bryan-Zwick

Artist:

Kelsey Bryan-Zwick is a Spanish/English speaking SoCal poet and artist with a B.A. from UC Santa Cruz in Literature/Creative Writing.  She is the author of three chapbooks, the most recent being Watermarked (Sadie Girl Press).  Disabled with scoliosis from a young age her poems often focus on trauma, giving heart to the antiseptic language of hospital intake forms.  A Pushcart Prize nominee and founder of the micro-press BindYourOwnBooks, Kelsey’s poetry appears, or is forthcoming in Rise Up ReviewWriting in a Woman’s VoiceIncandescent MindRight Hand PointingLummoxThe New Verse News, One Sentence Poems, and Redshift.  

Follow Her Work:

kelseybryanzwick.wixsite.com/poetry 

or

Instagram @theexquisitepoet

If a Poem Was a Dress

Sometimes when I can’t find a happy way to see myself

like when I’m having a hard time getting out of bed

or figuring out how to get dressed for another day of it

I have to let go of me all together.  I pretend it isn’t me

but a poem, a poem scrubbing its face in the morning mirror

a poem pulling up its socks, shocking the world in mismatched

fuchsia pink polka-dots and chartreuse zig-zag striped toes

a poem distracted as the cats curl, one by my feet, one up on

my lap, warm bundles of purrs, forgetting my makeup

forgetting to pin back my hair, forgetting to be.

The Art of Depression: Alexandria Drouin

Artist:

Alexandria Drouin is from Lowell Massachusetts. She is a Fine Arts major at UMass and hopes to be an Author. 

The Alcohol Medicines

The lady under the stone

Has a master hallway

Of which she glides wistfully down

It had been waiting during;

Impatiently, awhile before the winter fever

The lady under the stone possesses treasures

Treasures that made the pain lesser

For those who arrived in

A horse and carriage of spiritual conclusion.

No one adores the lady under the stone

Besides the man who folds her sheets still,

Presenting a mystical behold

At candle lit bars.

Tathered tweed suit, no soles;

Nursing the Faint sent of recollection.

The lady under the stone and Her sincere surround,

Weeds never climb her gown,

Weeds never climb her gown.