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by hailfabio 

Posted: 17 January 2006
Word Count: 234
Summary: It's a wierd thing, many people get depressed this time of year, with stupid thoughts/questions. Get undressed, not depressed. hehe

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Is life a series of steps, landmarks, checkpoints?

As I analyse texts
in my inbox,
like a jumped up English student.
A bloody agony aunt.

Has it come to this?

Thought I had it all worked out,
what I had to do
and what to do after that.
Graduate, get a job, get married, have kids.

Why am I inclined to follow this format,
it tears me apart?

I'm different, no I'm normal.
I can't, yes I can.
I'm lonely, I want to be popular.
I'm popular, I want to be lonely.

Does she like me? Why? Oh, she doesn't really.

Got to create the right impression,
speak well, dress well, good hair.
Got to train more,
do more sit ups, press ups.

Is this hair wax compatible with my hair type?
What do these clothes say about me?
This is the last coat I will ever need - 240 sir.

How many numbers do I have on my mobile?
How many texts do I get?
How many msn contacts do I have?

Need more money,
need to go out more,
need new friends,
need a girl.

Why do I seek completeness,
it is impossible?

I want it to be perfect,
my life but
it's so gloriously imperfect.

What can I do next to improve myself?

I'm happy and sad,
I'm cool and insecure.

Will I ever be able to let go?

I hope.

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Comments by other Members

Brian Aird at 10:41 on 17 January 2006  Report this post
This does indded seem to evoke some of those mental processes that can lead to despair or depression.

The seeds of recovery though are in your 'paradox' lines like:

'gloriously imperfect.
There is no ending, no right or wrong.'

'I'm happy and sad,
I'm cool and insecure.'

These lines evoke acceptance of who you are so perhaps they should be at the very end after the lines about needs, wants, expectations, comparisons and worries - which can trigger the negativity sprial that can cause depression.

What can I do next to improve myself? (Solution = accept myself as I am)

The ending certainly worked fo me:

'Will I ever be able to let go?

I hope.'


hailfabio at 11:07 on 17 January 2006  Report this post
You are certainly right that the answer to depression is to accept who you are.

I wrote something in a journal a long time ago whilst depressed, and I thought I'd try and turn it into a poem.

Your suggestion definately makes it read better.


DJC at 16:20 on 17 January 2006  Report this post
The 'what's it all about?' poem is a tough one to do, as it encompasses such a massive gamut of experience, something poetry isn't always adept at doing. I can think of very few poems (perhaps Prufrock and Song of Myself, but few others) that address such broad subjects. This is a pretty good attempt at the almost impossible, so nice one.

However, I will be critical here, as there are a number of things that just don't work. First of all, it's too internal. There's very little happening here, other than the internal wranglings of a young man who is a bit lost (how much do I know how you feel...)

A stanza like

Thought I had it all worked out,
what I had to do
and what to do after that.
Graduate, get a job, get married, have kids.

needs more focus, something to hang your thoughts on, so that there is a sense of thematic progression in the work. I often think that it is our perception of the external that drives poetry - even Sylvia Plath worked out that there needs to be that sense of the concrete to tie her damaged thoughts onto. Otherwise it is simply a series of plaintive cries, which may mean a lot, but don't necessarily make good poetry - they're more like diary entries.

If you look at the great modern poets (like Larkin, Heaney, Duffy and a more recent poet like Glyn Maxwell), they look at the minutae of life, such as the thoughts on a wedding, or a memory of childhood, or something symbolic such as Duffy's 'pearls', and from these minutae they address the bigger issues you so boldy outline in your work. This is how to really connect with the difficulties in our lives, without resorting to cliches like 'my life is shit and I don't know what to do about it'.

You have some really profound thoughts here, Stephen - but I think that if you really want to progress as a poet (which, looking at your profile/blog you obviously do), it's time to zoom in on stuff, and let your original expression of that stuff tell us all how you feel.

Tina at 17:32 on 17 January 2006  Report this post
(Please accept as a light hearted response - no offence meant!)
Now Darren that was a long reply - how can you know so much about this subject when you live so high up in the beautiful mountainsof Switzerland!!!! Some interesting points though!

Stephen I think I would call this - Relentless - because the issues you raise are the pulse of our relentless society/lives leading to depression. I think this is a brave attempt in a style I would never attempt and agree with some of the points Darren makes but think you have a lot of good ideas here.

AND Sylvia Plath was a mere genius after all! And some of the others named here were quite well known to put it mildly.

For me this is the essence of depression which you have put your finger on exeactly as we all try to CONTROL our worlds and everything in them and when we can't (because that isn't possible) we get angry and when we can't get rid of our anger we get depressed - that's why its called depressed - it is depressed anger (please take all these ramblings with a pinch well meant salt)!!!!!

Every human being spends their life
trying to make the world perfect,
but it's so gloriously imperfect.

thanks for your work

DJC at 19:34 on 17 January 2006  Report this post
Could you show us how you see the world when you're depressed? You know, how it all seems a bit slow, and everything doesn't really fit together the way it should.

Ah, and Tina, I teach English up in the Swiss mountains, so I spend all day looking at (and talking about ) poetry, with kids who sometimes like it, and sometimes don't. I just thought it was about time I started writing some of my own again, so here I am!

Sorry, Stephen - didn't meant to go off the point on your thread! Still, our ramblings might cheer you up.

James Graham at 19:15 on 18 January 2006  Report this post
I can't add much to what Darren has said - that you've done quite well in handling a great big heavy subject, but that you need to write about it with more focus, to 'zoom in' (in Darren's words) on an episode, a scene, a memory, a symbolic object, etc. - concrete things - and use them as means to show all (or maybe even just some) of the things you write about in this poem.

But even as it is, you've done a lot better than just slip into the sort of foggy angst that often ruins this kind of poem. There are some details I especially like. 'Steps, landmarks, checkpoints' - 'checkpoints' rescues that line, because it's less expected. It reminds us of border/police checkpoints and makes us think of the moments when we're checked out not just by ourselves but by others who perhaps have power or authority over us. I like 'I'm different, no I'm normal' and the other similar lines. (And note that 'I can't, yes I can' is better than 'I can, no I can't'.) I like the specifics of the 'how many?' lines - they point to our tendency to put quantity over quality in some areas of life.

I think the weakest lines are towards the end, especially 'Every human being...right or wrong'. These really are a bit woolly! Maybe you should try cutting the poem at the end, to something as concise as

Need more money,
need to go out more,
need new friends,
need a girl.

I'm happy and sad,
I'm cool and insecure.


hailfabio at 21:19 on 18 January 2006  Report this post
Thanks for feedback, much appreciated.

Keep it coming.


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