How Do I Love Thee? A Haiku About Meds

New bottle of pills

Contains capsules, not tablets

Let me count the ways


Three of my nighttime pills are tablets, and I like to take them all at once to minimize the horrible dissolving-pill taste as much as possible. One time, two went down but one got stuck to the back of my tongue and began to dissolve. It was like purifying the essence of every cruciferous vegetable and mixing them with charcoal, then pouring the horrific concoction down my throat. Immediately, my esophagus’s movement reversed direction and it took serious effort not to hurl right then and there. Instead, I had to force myself to chug water and think about anything but my poor tastebuds. To this day, the memory makes me shiver in horror.

And now, a change in the formulation of one of my meds means that I have received capsules instead of tablets. It’s the little things.

A Poem About Being Tired


head statue
Photo by Mika on Unsplash

My eyes are beginning to feel

Like peeled grapes, getting dry

This cannot be fixed

with one. slow. blink.

No, this requires something more

A seven-hour soak inside my orbits

Floating in dark saline dreams

Getting ready for the crack

Of eyelid curtains

And another day of dried-out vision

A Plains Poem

NOVEMBER SNOWtall, yellow grass with overgrown tire tracks and pink sunset

All summer, golden grasses swayed

Over prairie dog burrows in dry caked clay

Little sentries stood at attention

Through parched heat and months of baking sun.


rocky mountains under blue sky with clouds and snowy plains in front
Photos are my own

Now, November snow blankets the plains,

Flattens grasses and where it melts,

leaves golden cowlicks sticking up

at odd angles

Two Poems, One Year Apart

I. 2018

How long can I hold my breath

in this murky, underwater state?


Life moves in slow motion.

Here, strange fish glide past-

feathers mark them as birds

in a different world.

There, tall grass sways

in the current.


My lungs are screaming-

-breathe in

-breathe in

it’s only air.


II. 2019


my head above water,

I begin to swim

towards shore.


I get fatigued-

my body’s heavy,

still waterlogged,

and yet-


Clear air

and sunshine-

kiss my face

each day.


I was recently flipping through a journal and came across the first poem. I remember writing it. I was sitting on a bench outside, feeling utterly defeated by depression. I had gone for a walk on a trail I’d paced a hundred times, but felt foreign on the path and in my own body. Everything heavy, I sat on a bench and looked numbly at the world around me. All the parts of being outside that I love the most- the sun, the animals, the plants- seemed wrong. The sunlight was flat, the grasses moved unnaturally, and the birds seemed oblivious to my presence- as if I had already faded away.

These days, I still walk the same trail. Sometimes it feels like a chore, and sometimes it feels just right. I listen to the meadowlarks sing and the prairie dogs yip, and moving forward is easy. One foot in front of the other, I let the motion of my legs carry me without a thought. Other days, the weight of depression demands my attention. When that happens, and I’m overwhelmed by the sense that I shouldn’t be here- I shouldn’t be anywhere- all I can do is breathe, and wait for another good day.


Your brain


4 More Poems From a Mental Hospital

I. Partway Up

The rising sun

seems stuck in its journey,


partway up


while I wake

and sleep,


and sleep.



the only way to track the time

is by the shuffling

of nurses’ footsteps.


Tomorrow, I will rise

and, like the sun,

get stuck-

partway up.


II. Looking Out

Cafeteria skylights-

wide squares of sun

move slowly over patients

moving slowly.


I crane my head back

and watch a cloud

far, far above this place

dance from one window to the other


cotton candy arms spread wide

in a perfect arabesque

that soon diffuses-

and is gone.


III. What’s in a Mile?

It’s 24 steps

from the desk

to the door-

to the other is 31 more.


The door’s always locked,

but still,

I walk,

If I can keep going, I will.


Again and again,

lap after lap,

linoleum lines

as my only map.


I lost count

for a while,

but I know

that 21 laps is a mile


and it’s 24 steps

from the desk

to the door,

to the other is 31 more.


How long will it take

if I pick up my pace

for me and my mind

to embrace?


IV. Comparison

My first roommate

left her toothbrush

and some clothes

when she gained her freedom.


They put the clothes in a bag,

and then it was just the toothbrush,

small, etched heart on the back

staring up at me.


My second roommate

doesn’t notice

the evidence

of the first.


She cries in bed,

blanket pulled up over her eyes

while I tiptoe

around her.


When she packs up her things,

I wait for the third

hoping this time-

I’ll be the one to leave first.


4 Poems From a Mental Hospital

I. Constants

In the courtyard

turning inward-

each one of us

small spheres of loneliness.


We’re locked

-in our minds

-in our pain

-in our patient IDs


What do you do

when the treatment

feels worse

than the illness?


Stripped of everything


except that constant-



II. Foggy

Should I ask for the nail clippers?

Small signs of time passing-

longer nails, body hair,

and that monthly reminder of womanhood.


Everything else blurs together-

groups, meals, and the patients

who come and go

before I can come back to myself.


Twice a day, the question

“are you thinking about wanting to be dead?”

Each time I reply,

I’m less sure of my answer.


III. Scrutinized

The nurses walk by every 15 minutes

and flip through their clipboards,

monitoring their charges

with small, inked notes.


Some of us deal with it


cocooning ourselves

inside our skulls.


Others direct it outward,

venting to anyone who will listen

in an attempt

to regain control.


Ever present: the choice to perform-

or be authentic.

Which will get me out

and which will get me better?


IV. Treatment

They say it’s not a punishment, being here-

and it’s not-

but my sputtering brain,

fighting to maintain pathology,



to differ.


Relapse: A Poem about Self-Harm

black and white painting of woman with furrowed bow and eyes closedThe remnants

were there all along-

wrapped inside my skull,

twined around every neuron.


In spring,

it awoke from its dormancy,

stretched its vines

to suffocate me further.


I’ll prune it back

and pull

what roots I can.

Maybe this time


I’ll get them before

late summer,

when the poison berries

are full,


bursting with

rotten propagation.

Waiting to sow the blight-



Next year,

I’ll be clean



Your brain