depression confession

is that my black dog talking?
or is that the way I truly feel?
with the death of normalcy
sometimes I can’t discern what’s real

recently I had a birthday
which – surprisingly – was swell
thanks to my partner, my friends & neighbours
I dodged a lockdown birthday hell

so it’s hard to understand
why I now feel so bemused
why I’m so desperate for sleep
why my heart feels sorely bruised

it could be that I’m homesick
God knows I miss my family
perhaps I hurt because my homeland
is now a total calamity

I admit I’m worried about money
I imagine others are, too
living off my overdraft
is never a thing I wanted to do

the daily headlines are horrendous
too many innocents are dying
what with folk with fucked-up priorities
‘n racist politicians lying

or maybe I’m just worried
about what is yet to come
for the many marginalized
who’ve yet to hear the freedom drum

I give a shout out to those folks
who tune in here each day
but when I’m sad or fearful
all my words just fade away

so apologies for my silence
I do not mean to be a jerk
writing is usually my solace
but just now, it does not work

copyright © 2020 KPM

depression confession

on Sunday it stormed

is that just rain
or are they angels’ tears?
shed by souls who’ve carried burdens
for a number of untold years

always the tears of others
fill her heart with dread
but this wetness feels like blessings
bathing her troubled head

rain or angel tears, they’re cleansing
soapsuds in a washing machine
renewing hope & faith once more
keep that chin up, Nubian queen

copyright © 2020 KPM

needy

I need a day off

from the odd destructive thought
& the awful trackie bottoms I impulse bought

tryin’ to convince myself that everything’s “just fine”
when it’s obviously not; or why that 3rd bottle of wine?

I need to get away

from Daily Sun pics of people in breadlines
the BBC’s panic-inducing headlines

lyin’ to myself that everything’s “okay”
when fat-faced so-called leaders still hold sway

I need a hero

a person I trust to rescue me
to bolster my hopes with a firm “wait & see”

to laugh with me at my new lockdown girth
to hug me, to kiss me, to tell me my life has worth

I need someone
to help me defuse

these festering
these fiery
lockdown & protest blues

copyright © 2020 KPM

my new best friend

10 weeks into lockdown
tryin’ hard to avoid feelin’ blue
but every day it’s a little harder
tryin’ to think of stuff to do

frequently I’m on my laptop
composin’ these wee rhymes
cause I can only clean my house
so many times

I’m wary ‘bout a lotta things
like WhatsApp ‘n Snapchat
Zoom, Twitter, Instagram
I can’t get down with that

never bothered me overmuch
I like livin’ alone
but in these days of the pandemic
I’m often on my mobile phone

then there’s bad weather days
can’t sit out in my yard
stuck inside with a ticking clock
man, them days is kinda hard

I know everyone’s in lockdown
it’s the only sensible choice
yet I cannot help but yearn
for the sound of another’s voice

so much no one knows:
will this nightmare end soon?
it’s so not healthy for me
all this drinking before noon

so much uncertainty:
when will the lockdown end?
tears & over-thinking
I need a hug – I need a friend

I’m pretty sure these days
it ain’t only me
whose closest relationship now
is with their flat-screen TV

so all hail Netflix
give praise to Amazon Prime
for providing celluloid friends
with whom we can spend our time

let’s all give thanks to Netflix
StarzPlay – YouTube – Hulu
2020 has been a washout
I’d never make it without you

copyright © 2020 KPM

the day that DUSA closed

the alarm went off just after dawn
I got up
I made my bed
I put the kettle on
had coffee & a cigarette
while bad news screamed at me from the TV set
following a breakfast
of cheese toast & bacon,
I took a long, hot shower
to help me fully awaken
got dressed
did my face, arranged my hair
locked the door behind me
without thought or care
down Ward Road I walked
at a relaxed pace
approaching my job
with a smile on my face
Davy B stood by the doors
tanned & composed
as I walked past a sign that read –
wait, it says CLOSED

heart thumping
as I pushed through the door
mine were the only heels
clicking across the floor
WTF? I thought to myself
where’s the usual morning herd?
“Don’t clock in,” said Davy B
“I need to have a word.”
after 18 years in Scotland
that’s a phrase I’ve come to hate:
it means I’m about to be laid off,
made redundant – shown the gate
thus I made my face a blank
I tried to strike an unconcerned pose
as my colleague gently informed me
the Board had decided
DUSA must close
I tried to proffer an objection
insisting there were things
that needed done
before I could just close Reception
“you’ll still be paid for now”
he smiled at me as he said it
my brain heard the message
but my heart didn’t get it

there were emails to answer
spreadsheets to revise
packages to collect from
the delivery guys
phone calls to return
lost property to sort
was all of this to be cut short?
the printers needed toner
there were minutes to type
the desk & the Reception counter
needed a good wipe
there were hugs I needed
to give & receive
can I have time to say goodbye
before I hafta leave?
my heart would not stop pounding
I felt a trickle of fear
as from the corner of my eye
dropped that first salty tear
but dude was silent
not a lot was left to say
as he guided me through the doors
& watched me walk away
I took the long way home
trying not to cry
I wanted to pray
but all I could do was wonder why

copyright © 2020 KPM

unrealistic

I wanna go to Dobbies
drink whisky in a pub
kick back with my student friends
in their wee flats in The Hub

I wanna go to Broughty Ferry
walk barefoot on the beach
but busses ain’t a good idea
so that wish is out of reach

I wanna briskly walk
down a crowded Dundee street
hear the sound of other voices
the pavement taps of other feet

I wanna a girly night
with my Scottish bestie
four weeks of lockdown
has me growing testy

I’m tired of watching others
through a tenement window
lonely walks into town
in the cold spring sun’s glow

I miss my family
I wanna get on a plane
I need to see – I need to hug
my sisters & brother again

feel like I’m gonna I’m cry
feel like I’m gonna scream
how I wish I could wake up
& find this was all a dream

copyright © 2020 KPM

bottled up

it’s a sunny spring Sunday
my beloved has gone home
to keep busy, I clean the house
pretending I’m not alone

I try to tell myself, “he’s just gone
in the other room”
but I’m no master of deception
this does fuck all to dispel my gloom

although it’s barely noon
the wine bottle I uncap
it’s not like I have work tomorrow
so I do not give a crap

filling a bucket with water & bleach,
so I can mop the bathroom floor
I relive the joyous moment
when the buzzer rang at my door

such a beautiful sight to me,
in this moment, nothing matters
& when he puts those big arms around me
all my demons & fears scatter

but he’s gone home now,
so the bottle I turn up,
eschewing the fancy wine glass
or even a coffee cup

“but he always goes home on Sunday”
my rational side tries to remind me
as I vacuum the bedroom carpet
fighting tears that want to blind me

but we’re not in normal times
for this there are no paradigms
his absence may leave an empty space
but you are not the only one stuck in such a hopeless place

so I turn the bottle up
cause it ain’t shit else to do
I kill that bottle of Sauvignon
hearing the echo of “love you too”

copyright © 2020 KPM

bottled up

interesting times

There is no sun in Dundee today. As I type these words, it’s bang on 7am so it’s light outside, but there’s no sun: the sky is a gun-metal gray. And I can tell there’s no wind – at least at the moment – because the ivy outside my living room and kitchen windows is still; not slapping against the windows the way they would if it were windy out. I suppose it doesn’t matter, as I have done all the laundry there was to do: yesterday I even removed the covers from the cushions of both sofas and washed them. There’s no need for me to clean my wee flat; it’s fuckin’ immaculate, and it still smells of bleach and Dettol from the thorough wiping down I gave everything on Sunday.

Do animals think? I think my fish are confused…they’ve been hanging in front of the tank in a line like aquatic soldiers at attention, staring out at me for a little over 90 minutes now. Are they wondering why the overhead light is still on? Why their Benevolent Fish Goddess is still seated at her desk in her pajamas, her hair an uncombed and nappy nimbus around her head?

It’s been five days since my work shut down. And since I have been avoiding the news for the sake of my mental health, I missed BoJo’s speech yesterday, which means I awakened this morning to discover the country is now in lockdown.

The first thing that popped into my head upon learning this was that ancient (supposedly, as it’s never been proven) Chinese curse: “may you live in interesting times.” As a boomer, I’ve seen a lot of “interesting times.” Wars. The successful and unsuccessful assassinations of political figures. LBJ signing the act that gave black people the right to vote on television. Man’s cruelty to man as evinced by Matthew Shepherd and Rodney King. Roe v Wade. Too many school shootings. Katrina. I could go on, but why bother? None of those events has given me a frame of reference, or any kind of preparation, for this.

My emotions vacillate wildly between hope and positivity, fear, anger, sorrow and dread. I’m a control freak; I knew this about myself long before my therapist brought this facet of my character to my attention. I need to feel like I have a measure of control over my life, and I’m certain many other people feel the same way. Now, an event out with everyone’s control has forever changed life as it once was.

I can’t help but feel dismayed, watching people spread wild conspiracy theories on Facebook and other social media platforms. I’m annoyed by the proliferation of “it’s the end of the world posts.” It’s appalling, watching people fight on Facebook. I’m deeply concerned, watching my friends in the care home industry, the NHS, Police Scotland and those who work in supermarkets go to work every day while I – like the vast majority of the populace with common sense – remain safe indoors. Apart from those times when I go out in my garden, to weed, to cut the grass, to trim the shrubs. I thank God for that small patch of earth.

Mostly, I am broken-hearted watching my friends with mental health issues grow more and more distressed. I can see it in their posts. I can see it in their private messages and their texts to me. I can only speak to my own experience, but I know, on those days when depression has a relentless grip on me, getting out helped. Going to work helped. Especially where I worked, where people hugged one another. If you scroll through this blog, you will see several poems and essays I’ve written about touch. Touch is healing; it’s essential to good mental health. One of the things I love about my partner is how he touches me…he holds my hand, he hugs me. We always fall asleep holding each other. Lockdown puts an end to that.

So I try hard to keep my spirits up. I need – I want – to keep that black dog at bay. I am going to see the end of this nightmare, and although I don’t know the how or the when, I just keep telling myself “this too shall pass” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, KJV).

Y’all stay safe.

K xxx

physical distancing

Let me use my favourite Dundee-ism and say: I’M GOBSMACKED.

I can’t wrap my head around all this. I’m up – been up since 5:45am, but not because I have to go to work…there’s no work for me to go to: when I arrived at my job yesterday morning I was greeted at the door by our head of Health and Safety, who gently told me to go home. “You’ll continue to be paid,” he said. “I can’t give you a precise date on when we expect to re-open….maybe after the Easter holidays.” Shocked into silence, I immediately started to cry, which led to a small bout of hyperventilating. Thankfully, he did not laugh at me.

Thus I’m on Day 2 of the new “social distancing.” A term I’ve grown to hate; humans are largely social creatures by nature, and this term sounds so grim and foreboding. Henceforth, I shall refer to this as “physical distancing”.

If you’ve been reading this blog since its inception, then you’ll know I’ve pretty much always practiced physical distancing. I am a loner by nature, a trait I probably inherited from my father. Although I like people well enough, am known for hugging my friends and blessed with good friends on both sides of the pond who truly love me, I’m not a big fan of humanity. Unlike my Mom (and Anne Frank) I’ve never assumed or believed that people are basically good. Which is probably a good thing, because it means I can be delighted by the rare random acts of kindness I witness on occasion. Unfortunately, I’m not seeing a lot of these lately.

My bonnie Dundee – which you will be aware that I fell in love with upon my first visit – is changed; it’s like a ghost town. The few people who are out and about give you a wide berth – they stare at you with naked suspicion and even fear. As Dundee is tiny, and I’ve been here for 18 years, I know a lot of people – I see them every day on my walk to and from work. We stop and chat, crack jokes, and often we hug.

Covid-19 has changed that. The security guard at the Central Library always stands at the bus stop to have a last fag before starting his work day and as I’m a smoker too, we always pause to say hi to one another and have a wee blether about the weather or what we plan to do at the weekend. He’d switched to standing inside the gates to the Library, and now he’s not there at all, as all the libraries have closed.

The Syrian guy whose family owns my local shop used to be outside every morning sweeping the area in front of the shop clear of fag ends and crisp packets and other litter. We became friends after my 3rd redundancy, when, in desperation, I asked him for a job. He calls me “Miss Lady”. “You too smart to work in a shop,” he told me, “Have faith – you will get job right for you.” (I did).

His name is Bijou, and after that exchange I would visit his shop frequently; usually to buy cigarettes, as my smoking increases when I am stressed, and being unemployed is always stressful. We learned each other’s stories and always parted with a warm clasp of both hands. Now, Bijou doesn’t sweep the front of the shop in the mornings anymore, letting the winds blow the garbage away. He stays inside the shop, and though his voice remains warm and welcoming, his smile is sad and we no longer part with our ritual clasp of hands.

And I get that. He – like me and many other people – is afraid. And fear and uncertainly makes people do strange things. Me personally, fear causes me to react angrily – I find I am frequently angry since this whole mess began. I am angry that I have three friends currently stuck in foreign countries hoping they can get home. I am angry that the kids where I work will not get to walk across the stage in Caird Hall to get their degrees following four years of hard graft in English, Anthropology, Political Science and other subjects – they will have no Grad Ball. I am angry that there are unscrupulous people taking advantage of the elderly by offering to go to the shops for them, taking their money and not returning. I am angry that the asshole who lives in the building behind me thinks it’s funny to build a toilet roll pyramid in his window. I am angry at people who still aren’t taking this unprecedented event seriously. Mostly, I’m angry at the people in power who failed to act quickly.

Having said that, I realise anger is no good; it’s certainly not good for my physical health or my mental state, which I’ve fought so hard to regain following the death of my Mom. So I remind myself frequently to just BREATHE. I clean my wee home, which I am grateful for. I thank God that my family and my friends are still safe, and bless the technology that allows me to speak with them and see their faces daily. I take joy in the fact that outside my kitchen window with its new curtains things are blooming in my tiny garden and the weather is now good enough that I can hang my washing outdoors.

I check on my elderly neighbours Jack and Sarah every day. And I try to be a comfort to Josh, one of my beloved kids from work who is staying with me for the moment. He’s such a sweetie, and he’s so young, and this is so scary. I’ve been told I’m not the easiest person to live with, and that may be true. But I’ll be damned if I let someone – anyone – I care about go through this current uncertainty alone.

No man is an island; we ARE in this together. So take care of one another, and STAY SAFE.

K xxx

smoky kisses

on days when life
leaves her a wreck
she remembers a cold
& rain-soaked deck
clasped hands put
reality in check
smoky kisses planted
against a lover’s neck

in his neck
is a throbbing vein
is that heartache –
his own private pain?
nothin’ to lose
& everything to gain
endless smoky kisses
in a cold summer rain

when guilt & regret
start to creep
when loneliness
prods her to weep
when thoughts grow
unbearably deep
the memory of smoky kisses
lulls her to sleep

copyright © 2017 KPM