photographer. artist. author. singer. songwriter. musician. teacher. student. humanitarian. visionary.

We March Like Soldiers

[based on a true story]
For Sean, because I know you understand. xo

We March Like Soldiers

Shuffling forward
We march like soldiers
Invisible chains rattling
That only we can hear

All crammed together
In that box
We jiggle a little

I keep my eyes on the numbers
In that crammed elevator and imagine
That death awaits me at the bottom
Like a gas chamber
Waiting to spit out its last breath

Jiggle
Jiggle

Down we go
To meet a collection of many tables
And glue and sparkly things
I don’t die

There is an exercise bike
And a fat woman rides
Always going
Nowhere

The piano makes me sad
I remember other things
And better days
Before I flew
Out of my mind

But down I sit
My fingers stumble like a bad lover
And I play the song of my life
Wanting only to cry

The crazy people look at me
They are smiling
I smile too- at what
I do not know
But on with the show!

I do not understand
How I got here
Or why

I march outside and watch the worker
Water the flowers
In the burning heat

A man walks in circles
And circles and circles
He is pleased to be talking
With himself
Round and round he goes
A curious machine
That brings
A heavy verdict
He discusses
Heaven and hell

Another jumps up and kicks the wall
Is he real?
Is he an angel? A devil?
Did he come up from a pit?

Did I see bats?
Are they birds?
I watch them fly away

Up and out of the high walls that surround
All of us here on lock down

The sunny workers in the flowered pajamas
Are careful to say lovely things
So we know
We’re sane

I swing and swing
Every day
On that damn bench
That never goes anywhere

Up we go

Jiggle
Jiggle

Back to the halls and walls that are plastered with rules
That we’re supposed to understand

There are smiley faces
That tell us
We are people too

Here on this safe floor with no lighters or sharp metal things
And we wait
Watching the new ones march in

I am uncertain
If I am dead or alive
I go to the bathroom
Shut the door
And try to cry

No tears

The night brings another solemn gathering
Of people standing in line
For the third time
Today
To eat
And snacks too

I am a wild animal in these glass-windowed walls
I do not know how to get out
My eyes are black as mud inside
And my tears have been taken
By terror (the mirror does not lie)

Out I shuffle
With bare feet and no socks
In my spotted gown
Down

The hall
And we all

March like soldiers
And stand in a sad line
To get our pills
Which make us feel
At least for a little while

Like we are sleeping
As we lie awake in this place
Flying out of our minds

– B. Lindsey
(original poem)
Written on 10/28/13

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12 responses

  1. shreyapunj

    How do I comment on this?
    It is brilliantly written. The imagery, the words, the depiction of hopelessness with just a tinge of hope for the reader to latch on in the end.

    Clap.
    Clap.
    Jiggle.
    Jiggle.

    “Back to the halls and walls that are plastered with rules
    That we’re supposed to understand

    There are smiley faces
    That tell us
    We are people too”

    Wonderful. Simply wonderful.

    October 29, 2013 at 2:42 am

    • Thank you, Shreya, I appreciate that- deeply. :0) You know, I’ve never even heard the term “confessional poet” until last week. I’ve got no formal training and have no idea how poetry is even “supposed” to be written- but I found out that I’m indeed a confessional poet. This wasn’t easy to write, because I had to tap into a very dark and scary place inside: I debated on writing it at all, but I think that what we share- the deep and dark stuff especially- can help others. Thanks again for your feedback. :0) xo

      October 29, 2013 at 2:53 am

  2. I agree with Shreya. The imagery, my God. Gut-wrenching. Universal, too. Many of us have been to those dark places, feeling trapped, alive inside of dead or vice versa. Thank you for sharing this and reminding us we are never truly alone.

    October 29, 2013 at 7:52 am

    • Jenifer, thank you. I think, because I have experienced being locked away in a ward (after much tragedy), I have a personal story that I can share in that area. I used to be embarrassed by it, but you know, I’m not the only person to write a poem about it (Plath, Sexton- they experienced the same things) and it’s a healing experience to write about it I think. I want to show others that it’s alright to be “different”. And if you are, write about it. 😉 Thanks so much for taking the time to read it, and, I’m glad you get it. xo

      October 29, 2013 at 8:22 am

  3. This felt very soulful and striking to read. I really love the composition of it, the line breaks and everything really set the mind on the edge. I loved the repetition also, especially the “jiggle” world, it right away made me think of a jester.

    October 29, 2013 at 7:59 am

    • Yeah, the “jiggle” was the weird shaking of the elevator as we went downstairs to the game room (in the hospital). It was just an elevator ride, but in that state of mind, it was terrifying. That was years ago, but it’s just as real as yesterday. I was trying to achieve a nervous tension with the lines so I’m glad I was able to do that, and thanks so much for your visit, O. Means a lot to me.xo

      October 29, 2013 at 8:26 am

  4. loved it. beautiful.
    thank you so much. i absolutely got it. 🙂

    October 29, 2013 at 9:13 am

  5. Wow. This is amazing. You are talented in so many areas! This one really got to me (in a good way 🙂 I spent 10 consecutive months in the hospital for depression when I was a teenager. I am still sometimes afraid to confess that to people, but after reading this, how could I not? I can relate to so much of what is here. You are a serious courage-giver, and an inspiration to use the dark stuff in good ways. Thank you 🙂

    October 29, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    • Amy, I had a feeling that you would understand this on a personal level. So glad you like it. :0) Not everybody has gone down into the hellish depths that I have- I can say now that I’m grateful for the journey! I’ve come out on the other side, but you know, these journeys make us who we are, and who we become. Never fear your journey. And yes, always know that you have a special story to tell- and nobody will ever be able to tell it like you. Embrace that. ;0) You’re a gem. xoxo

      October 30, 2013 at 12:02 am

  6. this one was really beautiful. you really set it up well and delivered. The poems that are the most personal always seem to carry the must weight and have the larger impact. really, really great.

    October 30, 2013 at 1:30 am

    • Hey, thanks. :0) And yeah, this was highly personal- but definitely cathartic to write about. I’ve bolted these things up so many years ago, rarely visiting them (and for good reason) but the older I get, the more people I know that have gone through some really awful things. I don’t mind putting myself out there if I think someone else can benefit from it. Thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts. Much appreciated. :0)

      October 30, 2013 at 2:26 am

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