Ward Stories
(Column: Ward Stories)
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Happy Y2K! My computer's fine, how's yours?

Again, my brother Rick has discovered another talented poet. Eileen McManus is a consumer provider survivor who has worked in the mental health field. Currently she has almost completed her Master's Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. She has earned her B.A. in Creative Writing. Eileen has two passions: writing poetry and working with clients diagnosed with a mental illness.

I am thrilled to present these poems.


Square Golden Halo

By Eileen McManus

Tonight the surrounding silence is not as bad as on other nights
It forms a square halo of protection round my room
The phone rings, surprisingly
I take pleasure in its loud interruption, its persistent call, as if somewhere in my soul a new
name was found, as if earth provides a soft incessant call.

I speak, joke and laugh, coming alive once more
Is it that the caller brings me to life? I must not think it, but it is almost true. I cannot
bear to be alive when no other is alive with me.

Two friends, enough. A television and a radio, enough.
The movement of my ankle, knees, elbows and wrists. It is enough.
The pen, the paper, the light. I spoke to someone tonight.
There is tea. Jasmine, ginger, chamomile, Irish breakfast and Sleepytime, cinnamon apple
and spice and black. Tea sustains me, its dependence on the kitchen, porcelain mugs and
stainless steel spoons with twisted reflections.

I fear the world and do not like its noise and roughness. It is almost time for sleep and I
will forget how I submerge into it. I will relegate to the past old unpleasant memories.
Tomorrow will come, the clock will show 7 a.m. I will again face the world.

I am not Anne Sexton. I will not die at my own hand.
I am not Sylvia Plath. I will not place my head in an oven.
I do not shake and I am not miserable or delicate or anxious or reduced to helpless anguish.

I choose to sing, and to sing songs of angels.
I tell tales of cold heat past and present
I travel streamlined through hoops, bubbles, balls, and circles.
Rivers will carry my words.
I convey messages mounted in stained glass.
If not in your illusion, then in mine.
If only in my mind, If only there where the cobwebs tear.


One January Evening

By Eileen McManus

The future looks like swirling black fog
Dried green trees wink and glitter, pasted full against the night sky.

When has January been so rich?
I do not mind the granite so much, it is cold and blent with crystals.

I have survived a Sunday, when ancient chants welled through the clouds.
I watched the worshipping of the mob and retired to the warm light of a basement laundry
Room in the hours post dinner.

Pulling the warm clothes from the dryer I sing a song.
My voice is like rusty iron, bent and grating
Beating the odd notes of a tin drum, out of sync.


Battle

By Eileen McManus

This is where my freedom lies
In a death untouched
I have killed and murdered my dreams
I have cried and lived to see a laugh
Playing musical notes on each crystal tear.
You! Who have not felt the pain, I pity
You have not known flamboyant freedom. You have not known the sounds of
Shackles shattering as they fell diamond-faceted, tear-stained,
Defeated by the insolence of those who have dared to ignore death
They fell mist-covered and clouded on a heaven designed floor
Failure, you have not deserved my attention
Death, I have lived to see you die
I have lived to see your heralding roses fade and wither
Blush and hemorrhage purple
How delicate and frail your messengers are
I? I will live in steel and freedom. Pain wrought and heady
Running from the night and following the sun
With a battered sense of how the game is won.
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