Here is the penultimate posting of the series of poems marking World Suicide Prevention Day. I’d like to thank all the poets involved in this project and for their poems over the last two weeks.
Bear With Me
Today is one of the barely survived days
not to be talked about in public. People
say, if you don’t survive, that they wish
you’d said how hard it was just to get by
and maybe they could have helped you
but, from experience, this is not the case.
On the days when life is unbearable, sharing
makes people change the subject
or suddenly remember they had forgotten
an appointment anywhere else. As I said
the days that are unbearable really are unbearable,
even vicariously. If you survive it, alone,
it’s a miracle. But one no one else will
recognise or celebrate with you. They’ll
infer it was bearable after all: no biggie.
But today was a day I barely survived
and if this is that kind of day for you
and it’s still not over but somehow
you managed to be reading this poem –
I know what this means, I really do. Keep going
and then here I am patting you on the back, my
friend (I know I can call you that, perhaps
more than most of the people you know). We are
so small on our own, hold my hand, hold my hand.
Hannah Linden was a very active member of Jo Bell’s 52 group. Since then she has been published in several magazines and was commended in the 2015 Prole Laureate; and with Gram Joel Davies, won the 2015 Cheltenham Poetry Festival’s Compound Competition.
“My father committed suicide when I was a child so this project has my full support. I’ve written a series of poems about the impact of suicide on a child but one of the things that struck me when I contacted my father’s friends when I grew up, was how many of them said that they wished he’d said something about how low he was feeling. But I have often noticed how little tolerance and patience people have when people are depressed. This poem speaks to that experience and, hopefully, might help raise awareness of how important it is to support people.”
ON THE HORIZON
I am building a lighthouse
at the edge of things;
land, sea and sky’s meeting
night and day
woman and man.
The walls rise in an elegant curve,
a tree where trees don’t grow.
I build to show structures
may be built in difficult places,
to signal a presence,
a unique pattern in light and darkness.
John Lanyon was born and grew up in Cornwall. He now lives in West Oxfordshire where he works as an organic gardener, jazz and blues musician and linguist. His interests include the body, the natural world, simple living and Japanese culture. He’s drawn to elusive things, what happens at the edges of perception. The poetry of W S Graham holds a special place in his affection. In 2014 he was awarded first prize in the Hesperus Books haiku competition. A selection of his writing has appeared in the anthology A Funny Way With Words (Wychwood Press).
Don’t judge her,
unsheathing your sharpened knives,
all the little pricking blades prying her open like an oyster.
You’ll find no pearl, only a poison star, set like a bullet.
because the hide-and-secrets grow in the dark,
nestle in eye sockets to be closer to the brain.
Don’t watch her
reinventing her face with a clown’s palette,
lids garish as Christmas, lips gaudy with lies –
heart skewering the tongue like bitten glass.
because the sudden tannoy in the skull
screams its announcements, rallying demons.
venture closer to the edge than you have ever been
without maps or compass, ignorant of the sun’s vigil,
navigating a dark full of missed connections.
Because – the explanations stretch continents
and she is rowing hard away from the living shore.
Lesley Quayle is prize-winning poet, former editor of Aireings and author. Her work has appeared in Tears in the Fence, The interpreters House, Ink, Sweat and Tears and the North. She is also a folk and blues singer.