The Art of Depression: Chella Courington

Artist:

Chella Courington

Follow Her Work:

chellacourington.net

Or

Purchase her books:

In Their Own Way
https://www.amazon.com/Their-Own-Way-Chella-Courington/dp/1680730649/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474213869&sr=1-3&keywords=Chella+Courington

Love Letter to Biology 250https://www.etsy.com/listing/213476565/love-letter-to-biology-250-chella?ref=sr_gallery_1&ga_search_query=Love+Letter+to+Biology+250&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery

Encroaching Sorrow

“Do you ever worry about death?” Adele asked.

Tom made a noise, a grunt mixed with a sigh, and continued reading.

“Tom.”

As someone aroused from an unexpected nap, he looked at Adele. Confusion and anger competed with each other.

“What?” he asked.

“Do you worry about death?”

“No. It seems pointless,” Tom said. “I focus on tomorrow.”

Nearly fifty, she was seven years older than he. They had been married almost fifteen years.

“Have I always been this way?” she asked.

“Which way?” he asked. “Want part of a beer?”

Tom’s usual response to her unease. He knew Adele loved to split everything. Halving was a communal ritual. If we share our food, that’s the beginning: we’ll share our love, our interests, our life. With each year together, she grew more dependent. Saying they were Plato’s soul mates destined to find their other on earth though it took Tom and Adele longer to search through the mingling parts. And there he was in his jeans and white Oxford shirt, sleeves rolled up, hair reminding her of a Romantic poet. Thick, curly and shoulder length.

Neither imagined his losing it, but like the rest of their lives, attrition became inevitable and one November day she noticed a bald spot on his crown. It appeared without warning when she leaned over him in bed. A monk’s tonsure. A circle the diameter of her thumb touching her index finger. Half of an obscene gesture. She felt the skin, surprised at its smoothness.

“Tom, your hair is gone,” as if the utterance was the cause, the curse.

The clock went askew. Its hour hand flying from two to seven to twelve and around again and again. They could hear the clicking, the warning, the sign that life would be different now. Minutes turned into hours so quickly that months obscured days then years. The tell-tell promise they would not be here forever. Like their parents and their parents before them, Tom and Adele joined the fold edging closer to the cliff. If Tom and Adele were lucky, they would be stopped by a stand of bamboo, giving them the time and space to take it all in, their life their love their loss, and would slow down so they could enjoy each moment, each day without being trapped in what might happen. That night, however, was not one of those moments.

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.

The Art of Depression: Jennifer Carr

Artist:

Jennifer Carr

The Operation of Fear
Fear is like an

infection 

microorganism 

bacteria 

virus a disease 

a surprise attack 

on the immune system 

draining energy 

stealing happiness 

spiraling out of control

constant cries

panic attacks

or possible

heart attacks

sometimes

I can’t tell 

the difference

everything 

runs together

the sadness 

turns to madness

daylight turns

to twilight 

hope 

now hopeless

nothing can medicate 

this crazy mind  

but on the outside

no-one can see a thing

everything is normal

or so it seems  

The Art of Depression: Mark Blickley

Artist:

Mark Blickley

Mark Blickley is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center. He is the author of Sacred Misfits (Red Hen Press), Weathered Reports: Trump Surrogate Quotes from the Underground (Moira Books) and the just published text based art book, Dream Streams (Clare Songbirds Publishing House). His video, Widow’s Peek, was selected to the 2018 International Experimental Film and Video Festival in Bilbao, Spain. He is a 2018 Audie Award Finalist for his contribution to the original audio book, Nevertheless We Persisted.

About the Piece:

A memoir that chronicles  his strange epiphany that occurred when he was a returning warrior.

“Lying the Truth”

One of the happiest days of my life occurred during the Winter of 1973. I was on military leave from the Air Force and it’s an understatement to say that I needed much more than a three-week vacation. I was on the verge, or probably more accurately, in the midst of a nervous breakdown.

            I’d pulled a tour of Vietnam. The past few months I had been finishing out my enlistment at Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina. The war was a sour experience, but what deepened my depression and anxiety was the peacetime service. After the fear and excitement and brotherhood of combat, I was deposited on a base full of non-combatants pretending to be hard-ass military men.

            I had blocked in aircraft half-naked on the flight line while enemy rockets fell around me. At Charleston AFB if a button wasn’t mated with a hole or a boot lacked a glossy polish, or God forbid, a hair was touching my ear, I’d be jumped on like I’d just set fire to the American flag. Instead of support and relief, we Vets received hostility and harassment for our lack of military bearing. Glowing write-ups while under fire met nothing; a real man didn’t replace his government issue boxer shorts with Fruit of the Loom jockey briefs.

            My unhappiness ripened into confusion and envy.

Everyone else seemed to be adjusted or adjusting. Everyone else seemed to be happy. My sadness frightened me. I felt as if I was shut out of some universal secret. I truly believed that there was some kind of personal information that hadn’t been passed on to me. Even the drugs I was consuming at the time were not agents of euphoria. Instead of offering a numbing comfort they simply increased my awareness of how alienated and needy I had become.

            My behavior had become so erratic that my First Sergeant “strongly suggested” I take an immediate leave and straighten myself up. My last words to him before I left his office were the same words I was asking everyone I met, stranger or acquaintance.

            “Are you happy?” I asked.

            My First Sergeant eyed me with suspicion. I was totally sincere. “Yeah, I’m happy,” he muttered.

            “Why? Can you tell me why?” I pleaded.

            He cleared his throat and said, “Because I’m getting rid of your ass for a few weeks, that’s why I’m happy.” He was being totally sincere too.

            Now this may seem a bit silly or naive, but I felt like the only way I could pull myself out of this debilitating funk was to try and understand how and why others could be so functional and contented. My opening question, “are you happy?” was always, and I mean always answered in the affirmative.

            The sources of all this happiness were quite varied. It could be a girlfriend, a job, a car, a good bottle of cognac, anything. The point is that no one told me they were unhappy. No one. My question didn’t give me any answers I could use as clues. It just made feel more depressed and estranged.

            During the course of my three week leave I visited my older sister who was working her way through college as a belly dancer. She was living somewhere Upstate New York Jamestown, I think. I met her at the club she was working and was given the keys to her apartment. She told me to just relax there until her performance ended; I’d be seeing her in a few hours.

            I remember being stretched out on her living room floor, smoking a joint, listening to an eight track of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Pictures at an Exhibition when I heard a knock on the door. I opened the door on a small, incredibly stacked young woman with a southern accent. I introduced myself to my sister’s neighbor. This sexy young woman, Becky, invited me to wait over at her apartment. I eagerly accepted. I could

tell by her friendly and aggressive behavior that she was

attracted to me. As I pulled my sister’s door shut behind me I could already feel my face smothered inside Becky’s perfumed cleavage.

            I wasn’t feeling too thrilled with life; I took comfort wherever I could find it.

            My hormonal heat flared as we entered her one room apartment. We sat on the couch facing the biggest framed photograph I’d ever seen.

            Actually it wasn’t a photo at all. It was a poster of a sleazy looking man of late middle age. This skinny poster boy had sparse, greased back hair and a kind of moustache popular in the thirties a thin pencil line of facial hair underlining his large nose. Beneath his grinning portrait, in bold letters, I read FRANK COLE, A&P MANAGER OF THE MONTH. The month was August, 1971. I admired Frank’s courage in exposing his dental work. Even though the photo was in black and white you could tell his teeth had to be green.

            The ornately framed poster dominated the tiny room. I fought back my laughter. I didn’t want to insult Becky’s father. I just wanted to bang his daughter.

            Well, Becky talked and talked and talked. What I mistook for her lust seemed to be a genuine affection for my sister

that she transferred to me. As soon as I realized this I

shifted from horny G.I. to soul-searching outcast.

            “Are you happy?” I asked Becky.

            Becky beamed and nodded.

            “Why?”

            Becky pointed to the Manager of the Month. “It’s because of Frankie. He’s the most wonderful man in the world.”

            I glanced over at the poster and it made me sick to think of that guy with this lovely, sweet girl. Becky was definitely on the sunny side of twenty-five.

            She launched into a description of Frankie Cole that was so loving and awe-inspired, by the time she finished her tribute to him his portrait started looking handsome to me too.

            When my sister arrived I gave Becky a goodnight peck on the cheek. I was more depressed than ever. It’s not that I begrudged Becky her joy, but even a guy like Frankie Cole was able to attain a state of happiness. And here I was, a twenty year old in wonderful shape with a full head of hair and nice set of teeth, feeling like the most miserable man on earth.

            The first words my sister said to me after we entered her apartment was that she hoped I hadn’t taken advantage of Becky because she was a really good person.

            Take advantage? What was she talking about? How could I take advantage of Becky? I never met anyone who was as much in love as was Becky. Who could possible hope to compete with August 1971’s A&P Manager of the Month, Frankie Cole?

            My sister shook her head. She told me that Becky had engaged in an affair with Frank Cole a couple of years ago when he was manager of the Produce department and she was a part-time grocery clerk. Frank was married and told the teenage Becky how horrible his wife was and how miserable his life had become. Frank arranged to have Becky transferred to Produce and they shared passion for about a year amongst the fruit and vegetation. During this time Frank would pacify Becky by promising to divorce his wife.

            Becky, feeling so sorry for her man, called Frank’s wife and demanded she set Frankie free from his house of torture. The next day Frank had Becky transferred out of Produce. He tried to end their relationship but Becky wouldn’t listen. She was a woman in love. After Becky began making weekly calls to Frank’s wife, he had Becky transferred out of his store and into an A&P some sixty miles away. He refused to see her.

            My sister informed me that Becky’s life now consisted entirely of working at the new A&P five days a week. On Becky’s two days off she’d drive over to her former supermarket and sit in her parked car for hours, watching her beloved through the store’s large windows. Frankie Cole had abandoned her, wouldn’t even look at her, but Becky would not and could not abandon the man she loved.

            My response to my sister’s version of Becky’s story was anger. Becky had lied to me! I was vulnerable and she lied to me! I had asked for help and she teased me with her broken fantasies of emotional well-being.

            That night the three of us went out to dinner at a local diner. My hostility towards Becky manifested itself by my total silence during the heavy, grease-laden meal. I observed her like a scientist waiting for a disastrous reaction in his laboratory.

Frank Cole’s name was never brought up. Becky was charming. And warm. And sweet. And funny. My anger melted into pity. By the time dessert arrived I had had a catharsis, along with a touch of gas.

            I realized that Becky and all the others I questioned hadn’t lied to me. Claiming they were happy and giving me their reasons for their happiness was an act of kindness and hope. I knew that Becky’s love crisis was every bit as intense as my military crisis, yet she was a model of grace under pressure. Her imagination had provided her with the ability to still experience pleasure despite the awesome burden of a crushing reality.

            If fantasy was allowing her to function at such a high level, well, I thought, God bless the human imagination and its ability to construct protective worlds of security and satisfaction.

That was the secret I was searching for. Like Becky, I had found it inside Frankie Cole’s imposing icon.

            Although the food from that diner dinner repeated itself throughout the night and into the early morning, it was the best meal I ever consumed. I learned to swallow my self-pity watching Becky that night.