E. E. Nobbs, Melissa Lee-Houghton and World Suicide Prevention Day

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented. After an overwhelming response to my call for poems I am able post up work from a range of poets who have been touched in some way by suicide. To find more information about the day click HERE.

But for now sit back – read the first two poems and watch the film clip…

No one would ever call it suicide

& he didn’t either

but he kept working at the knotted
& punky blocked log from the fallen
worthless spruce, & he rammed
in the rusty, dented wedge, again — kept
at it — banged it with the butt end
of the old axe with the ash handle full of splinters

even when the heart pain struck him hard

— because the damned wedge
was jammed, again
& he wanted to finish
the job —

but couldn’t


E.E. Nobbs lives in Prince Edward Island and is the author of The Invisible Girl . Her day-job involves looking at insects through a microscope. Her still-too-quiet alter ego is Jonny Kane – Space Ship Captain. Follow their adventures at https://ellyfromearth.wordpress.com/ and @ellyfromearth

Love Smitten-Heart

I have bought a knife and I keep it
with me at all times. There is no-one I can call on
when the world turns black.

All night I thought of my cheated heart,
dead on the outside but very much alive in the middle.
I thought of how dearly I would tend to your dead body.

I have dragged people with me who need never have been dragged.
I have tethered people to my imaginary umbilicus.
I am dying cruelly in my love-smitten heart.

Coming out of Liverpool as the sun set
I begged my heart to stop but the train galloped on.
Everywhere I go and with whomever I leave myself wide open.

I write every poem as though it is my last poem,
expecting it to be my last. Often I’m duped into climbing down and living.
When I am unafraid then you really should worry.

I feel my eyes set deeply and painfully in my head.
Music keeps my empathy raw and lubricated, though I don’t care
that I am mortally pierced and will not survive.

I want my heart cold in a cold cage of a body in a cage.
I don’t imagine I will have the opportunity to regret it.
I have reached the very bottom darling and I know that you know it.

Because you won’t touch me I grow colder by the minute.
It is no-one’s fault that I am crawling around blind and dumb.
It is just my lot and I cannot find the strength or the cause to undo it.

So many empty beds.
Beds left alone and
beds climbed out of—your body still fighting the cold there.

I am going to book a hotel room in my own name.
The sun will come through the window when I am no longer there.
The sun will rise until it doesn’t.

The sun will set whether I rise or not.
Do the maths honey, nothing has ever been simpler.
There is constant pain I cannot manage and it won’t go away.

I call your number from the bench on the memorial park,
Pendle mounting fiercely in the background, and all the lights blinking.
Once there was a power-cut and I stared into the closed eye of the dark.

The police came this morning and threatened me.
They said nothing is so bad and they know what people like me do.
The policewoman went upstairs and talked to the kids.

We are all very unhappy because I am lost in the dark and although you call out to me
my sense of direction blind is limited and useless.
I dig down into my hole like a wounded marsupial.

I bring food to my lips and want it and as soon as I taste it I don’t want it.
I come to you to kiss you and hold you but as soon as you are in my arms I back away.
I play a song and half way through I run myself through silence.

The police woman said is there not somewhere else I can go, to someone else.
She said her mother had bipolar and she put her through hell.
I had to bite my lip and look in the other direction.

The policeman said I need to see a doctor, need to be sensible and take the medication
my doctor prescribes me, that Sunday mornings are not the time to ring the police.
My husband says bipolar disorder doesn’t stop beyond nine to five.

The policeman stands over me aggressively, says it’s just a blip
that if I go walkabout he will issue a high risk missing person’s report,
he uses the word ‘daft’ half a dozen times.

I can’t adequately describe my sense of abandonment, disappointment or the expectancy
of being let down. Mike liked my poem.
Mark liked the way I read.

I told Mike I am very unhappy.
Mike said it is very sad, but he enjoyed my company.
I kissed Adrian on the lips by accident.

I hate how my husband describes my suicide attempts, and how
the people who could help respond to them by being obviously unbothered.
I listen to him on the phone desperate and describing my suicidality.

I’d kiss him every minute of the day but it would make him sore.
I’d make him promises I can actually keep but they will become the promises I regret.
I need the freedom to go away and hurt

just go with the wave until it takes me out.
I survive on nostalgia and the promise of pain.
The pain is a plan where there is no real hope or vision of a future where I am not alone.

We all die, is what I want to tell them.
We all know this though grief is irrational and impossible and also unavoidable.
I won’t be able to hold you through it.

My half of the bed will remain cold and my face indented on the pillow.
Your bare back and its pains will crease and fold.
In the morning I will be a shadow barely touching your body.

Melissa Lee-Houghton is a Next Generation poet 2014. Her two collections, A Body Made of You and Beautiful Girls are published by Penned in the Margins, and a third collection is forthcoming for 2016.samaritans


3 thoughts on “E. E. Nobbs, Melissa Lee-Houghton and World Suicide Prevention Day”

  1. Thanks Abi for what you are doing to increase awareness on such an important issue – one which affects so many lives. Until your call for submissions, I didn’t know there was a “World Suicide Prevention Day” but I am glad there is. And thanks for posting my poem. And I feel honoured to have mine next to Melissa’s.

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