The Art of Depression: Young Toledo


Young Toledo

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I wake with weight of the world on my chest.

I look at the ceiling and ask why lifeʼs a mess.

These days iʼm wanting to sleep more and wake less,

because my day to day is feeling more and more like a test.

i get out of bed and go on a walk.

so i can be outside and be alone with my thoughts.

i know i know… i should probably try and talk,

but every time i DO my throat STOPS,

and i COUGH irrationalities

and faux maladies to follow SUIT.

Fuck depression.

talons that tear at your mind remain its lethal weapon,

and it takes no days off not even for one second

it rages like a cat thatʼs feral and it hurts to the bone.

the pain seeps to the marrow, parents tell you your thoughts are overblown.

the cuts on your wrists,

your parents insist,

are a phase of being a kid.

but now that youʼre big the cuts on your wrists twists past your ribs, climbs up your spine, then lines your mind where the new cuts sit,

 but i have time.

iʼm coming back from my walk 15 minutes till nine

so about 8:45.

the weight on my chest has grown a little light,

and iʼve gathered all the pieces of my life

that i could find.

but to say iʼm fine, would

just be a lie.

The Art of Depression: Acoustic Librarian


Acoustic Librarian is a songwriter, open mic performer and technology librarian. He lives in Orange County with his wife and their two cats.



Many a mile I’ve wandered

Through this house of mirrors,

Searching to find a way out,

Knowing my home isn’t here.

Amid the smoke that surrounds me,

Faces appear in the glass;

Are they long-sought fellow travelers

Or reflections of self that flow past?

Still I desire perfection

In a world distorted and crazed,

To discern beyond all illusion

The meaning of this maze.

Guide my paths to what’s real,

For glimpses are all I can see;

And make my image more truly

That which You meant it to be.

Oh Lord, this day, these things I pray.

Oh Lord, this day, these things I pray.

Oh Lord, this day, these things I pray.

I plunge down slides, then start to climb

Towards heights that seem out of reach;

Pass through tunnels that move and spin

On floors that shift under my feet.

I enter a room full of blackness,

A spotlight shines in my face.

Do I hear whispered laughter

Or murmurs of welcome and grace?

Can I recall the reflection

That shown when the glass was clear?

Do I believe in perfect love

That casts out all of my fear?

Guide me towards others who walk this path,

For glimpses I’m starting to see;

And make our images truly

That which You meant them to be.

Oh Lord, this day, these things I pray.

Oh Lord, this day, these things I pray.

Dear Lord, this day, these things I pray.

The Art of Depression: Lauren Scharhag


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.

The Art of Depression: Chella Courington


Chella Courington

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In Their Own Way

Love Letter to Biology 250

Encroaching Sorrow

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

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


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


Adebisi Amori

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Instagram: @thereal_adebisi


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.  



The Art of Depression: Dylan Newitt Allen


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.

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Twitter: @AllenNewitt


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


David Estringel “The Booky Man”

“Smooth Whiskey” (originally published by Cephalopress)



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.



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.



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.



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.



(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.


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,


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,


But nothing lasts forever

in the eye.

Tears—like rain—must fall,


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


in the deep

of my own waters.


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


driving you,


to warm shelter


from me

and my storms.

Just remember me, fondly,

dear friend…when it rains.