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 Mary on her poetry:


'I’m not really much of a poet.  When I sit down and try to write poetry, it usually comes out pretty lame.  On the other hand, when I am upset or pissed off about something, it’s like a faucet gets turned on inside my head and the poetry pours out.  Once I’ve expressed my feelings, the faucet turns back off.

 During the first few years with Chris, I did write some poems to help cope with the situation.  But they seemed to be more about expressing Chris’s feelings than my own.  The experiences that Chris had been through were so far from anything I could imagine that it sometimes felt like I was dealing with an alien lifeform.  Every now and then, he would say something that resonated with my inner poet, and it would crystallize into an expression of his feelings.  This process helped me conceptualize what he was trying to describe to me; it also seemed to give him a sense that he was being listened to and understood.  


 Two poems, “it’s Been A Long Night” and “Stasis,” came out of this process.  The first poem was about Chris’s suicide attempt, which was covered in the book.  The way he described it to me, simply and almost casually, seemed to distill all the fear, pain, and hopelessness into a few simple lines.  I wrote the poem that night. Two other poems, "Every Day You Stay Alive" and "Graveyard in My Head," were written to encourage Chris at times when he was dealing with really upsetting or discouraging occurrences.'


Every Day You  Stay Alive

Is one more victory you score

 In the war

For something more

A battle fought heart beat by beat

For solid ground beneath your feet


Is clean, relentless, healing pain


As poisons drain

And old scars strain

Against the healthy tissue grown

From broken brain and broken bone

Is defeat for those who made you prey

   To parasite



The Graveyard In My Head

The graveyard in my head

Full of things that won’t stay dead

All the terrors of the past

Coming back to life at last

I can hear each fear I hid

Ripping through its coffin lid


The graveyard in my mind

Things I had to leave behind

Only way I could survive

Had to bury them alive

Now they’re tearing through the earth

Eager for a second birth


It's Been A Long Night

Rain coming down
Legs getting heavy
Stop in a bus shelter
Rest for a while
Smoke a cigarette
It’s been a long night

Pills kicking in
Mind getting heavy
Feeling it coming
Won’t be long now
Smoke another cigarette
It’s been a long night


Fear starting in

It’s all getting scary

Don’t want to do this

Take it all back

Back against the pavement

Scream at the night



Rage held me together

Soldered the broken places

Backburned a barrier

Scorched earth perimeter


Hate held me together

Expanded like an atmosphere

Filled up the vacuum

Pressurized the capsule


Cold held me together

Freezing the life inside me

Deadened my mind and heart

Looked out from behind my eyes



I watch the herd lift up its head

To scent the coming of the rain.

A thousand backs turn toward the west,

A living river down the plain.


All knit together, blood and bone,

The single beating heart of it.

If I could make my heart be still,

Then I would still be part of it.


The herd moves on to pass me by,

A rogue and outcast till I die.


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