Not Bionic

Not Bionic by Valerie Parente

You can be recovered
and still not feel okay,
maybe for minutes,
maybe for days.
The key is accepting
that you operate
on the very mechanisms
that make you brave.
You are not bionic,
you are not unfazed.
You are a child
of the moon’s display,
and that will always mean
that sadness comes in waves,
but so does happiness,
it arrives all the same.
It is this temperament
that helps you create,
it is your reactions
that leave room for grace.
When you have a memory
and it’s by mistake,
you are allowed to feel
any type of way,
because you are not bionic
you are not man-made,
you are something natural
deep in outer space
you are endless and real
in mankind’s masquerade.

– Valerie Parente (3-4-2021)

The Hurt, The Heal, The Hope

The Hurt, The Heal, The Hope by Valerie Parente

I felt myself hurt
as I reflected on the feelings that defined my past.
I felt myself heal
as I made sense of the psyche that defined my present.
And I felt myself hope
as I realized what I wanted was not what I need in my future.
This is the trajectory that permeated my inner rhythmic monologue.
This is the process that helped me uncover my faults.
This is my manifesto that I long to share with you all.

– Valerie Parente (3-2-2021)

Moonlight

Moonlight by Valerie Parente

I used to be haunted,
at the mercy of the night,
but now the night lives in me,
so I manipulate the moonlight.

I used to see ghosts,
trapped in space and time,
but now I see this reality,
without the irrational fright.

I know I obsess in phases,
and that gave me the insight,
that fixations are not fixed,
they’re just a state of mind.

Like water that flows,
as the moon controls the tide,
moods always come and go,
that’s just a part of life.

I am more than my mental state,
I am a body with moonlight inside,
call it energy, call it a soul,
call it proof of a spiritual kind.

– Valerie Parente (2-28-2021)

Sage for Sage

Sage for Sage by Valerie Parente

Cleanse the room
like I’ve cleansed myself.
Heal the collective conscience
and its mental health.
The air and its smoke
is so much bigger than you
but we are all connected
to the wisdom’s roots.
Sage for sage,
please accompany me.
Sage for sage,
I will learn as I breathe.

– Valerie Parente (2-16-2021)

Invincible

Invincible by Valerie Parente

The glory of being open about mental health
is that nobody can weaponize it against you.
Anything you say, I’ve already said myself
and nothing is more invincible than living your truth.

– Valerie Parente (2-3-2021)

Spellbound (Analysis)

Spellbound Analysis

A major project I have been working on in 2020 and 2021 is a fantasy series (to be completed). The poem Spellbound is not part of this series, but it is inspired by the same artistic process I’ve been using to write my dark little fairy tale. This process consists of me translating my mental struggles into fantastical terms and motifs. I was thinking to myself about the obsessive nature of falling in love or falling into fascination with a person, place, or thing as someone with OCD. It is an experience more negative and toxic than it is positive and enjoyable. And it’s something I get called “crazy” for a lot, so I wanted to write a poem in my own little self-aware way as a hypothetical rebuttal to anybody that weaponizes my OCD against me. With that in mind I started to refer to the that mind-altering moment when I fall into fixation with something as a “spark”. This spark, something that many people feel with “love at first sight”, is always exciting at its inception. In the mirrored fantasy version of my psyche the spark is, quite literally, “magic”. That spark has proven since I was a teenager to always end badly though, and that’s why Spellbound describes the origin of this spell as a blessing from a witch that has gone awry. “[She] struck my heart, but must have missed […] because I feel it in my brain.” This whole concept of feeling love in the brain instead of the heart is, well, at the heart of my experience with obsessive compulsive disorder. It’s a trick. It’s a gift gone wrong. It’s not the magical feeling that one feels in heart, it’s obsession, and that is the difference between OCD and real authentic love. One is felt in the brain, and one is felt in the heart. The one felt in the brain is a toxic version of the latter. And I’m no fool to how that spell has manipulated the way I handle social situations in the past.

Spellbound carries on to describe three stage of obsession in rhymes. First the excitement, second the longing, and last the devastation. This is pretty self-explanatory of how OCD feels in any brain that feels the initial “spark”. Then the poem finishes off in a closing stanza about the repetitive nature of the OCD cycle. OCD fixations happen in the following order: Obsession, Compulsion, a feeling of Relief, and then starts over with a new Obsession. This model for the mental disorder was directly referenced when writing the last stanza. The reason I even thought to write this poem was mainly due to the sentiment expressed in the last line, “It never works out and I get worse. A brand new spell with the same hurt.” This is where my frustration comes in, because I do truly feel like falling in love for most people is like a spell, but its a magical experience that is innately positive. I don’t feel that way as someone with OCD. This positive experience that seems so great for everyone else always goes wrong for me because of the way my brain malfunctions in an obsessive compulsive manner. I thought about this recently because I started to feel a new spark, and it was fantastic, but I shut it down as quick as possible. I just don’t have the energy or will to be spellbound again. Not now, at least. Someday I’ll figure out how to be spellbound in my heart instead of my brain, but that day is not today. I’ll stick to exploring psychological phenomena with a rhythmic fantasy backdrop for now.

You can read my poem, Spellbound, here.

– Valerie Parente (1-29-2021)

Spellbound

Spellbound by Valerie Parente

Spellbound cycles, I go,
like magic, not neuro-typical.
As if I’ve been blessed by a witch
ever since I was a little kid.
She gave me a strange kind of gift
struck my heart, but must have missed.
I become enchanted, but it’s strange
because I feel it in my brain.
Spellbound, that’s what I call it.
That’s my crazy way of falling.

At first sight, there’s a spark
and that serves as the mark
that I will always reference
to justify my obsessiveness.
Second stage, there’s the longing
clinging on to every moment
reading too much as I read minds
gradually making a mess of mine.
Third stage, the gut punch
usually after years, not months.
I can’t eat or sleep, I just cry
and every time I nearly die.

Then it all starts over again
the random spark, and I’m obsessed.
I don’t know how others fall
feeling the magic of it all
entranced in such a good sense
when my trance feels hellbent.
It always starts out exciting,
to realize I can feel something
but it turns into a special kind of hell
where I can’t separate from the spell.
There’s never a justification
for that inexplicable fascination.
It just strikes, and I’m weak
blood rushing at its peak.
But it never works and I get worse.
A brand new spell with the same hurt.

– Valerie Parente (1-28-2021)

Amethyst Skull

Amethyst Skull by Valerie Parente

An amethyst skull,
we are anything but dull,
something creepy to think about,
that’s why we ignore our mental health,
but when you finally look inside,
you’ll see you shine so divine,
look at what you’re made of,
you’re a miracle in this hell,
far more remarkable than you realize,
the universe and intention comprised.

Do not fear your bones,
they just decorate your soul.

– Valerie Parente (1-23-2021)

A Little Sympathy Would Be Nice

A Little Sympathy Would Be Nice by Valerie Parente

I think a lot about my past
but that doesn’t mean I want it back.
My brain was wrongly designed
to dwell on former times,
getting caught on the same loops
and I know that gets you confused.
I don’t want the same things,
but that’s what my conscious brings.
If you find that weird
then imagine how I feel.
OCD is like a chronic bad habit,
a royal jester playing old tricks
and when its trying to fool you
just know it tried to fool me too.

– Valerie Parente (1-18-2021)

Art Without Fame

Art Without Fame by Valerie Parente

Artistic displays without God-like fame gets you weird looks.
Promiscuous fashion without hollow passion gets you unsold books.
Poetic mindsets without a publisher’s subtext gets you ridiculed.
Free expression without others’ discretion gets you verbal abuse.
Because it’s okay to feel hurt
as long as you have a following
and it’s okay to create stories
as long as you’re not being honest,
but the moment you draw from your real life
without the public’s hype
that’s when they call you the bad guy;
Because art without fame is just the diary of a lunatic.
Love without a mate gets you deemed the psycho chick.
And this is not a complaint, just a reminder that I’m aware of it.
So bid me your hate, I’m already immune to it.

I’ve learned to accept that when you merge intellect with fishnets as a way to project an explicit mindset and mental health awareness you’ll get teased by the rest but I’m okay with that test because I’ve overcome too much stress against the odds of my illness to still give a fraction of a shit.

– Valerie Parente (1-12-2021)