Anomaly

Anomaly by Valerie Parente

You said my mind was weak
when I developed OCD
but I say my mind was strong
strong enough to rewire it all.

You said I favor my defects
because honesty is my reflex
but I’m denouncing the stigma
with this abnormal wisdom.

You said I have an excuse
to revisit my refuge
but I’m happier in the open
socializing instead of coping.

I’ve got this mental illness
pushing me to my limits
and you think that I’m complicit
but I’m really just its witness.

– Valerie Parente (6-23-2021)

That’s The Moon

That’s The Moon by Valerie Parente

Look up high
at the night sky.
See that? That’s the moon
it’s not an excuse
it’s an explanation
to something complicated
something I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand
but when I break it down as a symbol I stand a chance
to make sense of the voice inside
this methodically mad mind.

Do you see that? That’s the moon
and it belongs to you too.

– Valerie Parente (6-16-2021)

Nemesis (Not Me)

Nemesis (Not Me) by Valerie Parente

I’m finally happy
and my OCD still found me.
I see you in my dreams
with a tangible body
but when I go to defeat you
you’re the nemesis that continues
like a chain that keeps repeating
in a relationship so uneven.
I see you in so many forms
using my sweet slumber to return
and I punch, I kick, I scream
I wrestle to separate from the enemy
and I get oh so frantic
to justify my antics
begging the peers before my eyes
to understand that I’m the good guy
that I am separate from this disease
but then I wake up and it’s not a dream.
I still have this sickness on my skin
when I’m awake I’m still hallucinating
and it’s hard to believe I used to be afraid
convinced I’d be so lost without this charade
but now that I’m full grown I finally see
that this disease is nothing without me.
You’re just a sickness that attaches
used my puberty to take advantage
and I was far too young to understand
that your golden offer was a cruel scam.
How dare you stick yourself to me
even when my brain is asleep?
How dare you attack those I love
as if my entire psyche wasn’t enough?
And even though I’m so damn exhausted
by the nemesis in my subconscious
I’ve finally found my grace and solace
knowing I can manipulate you as an artist.

– Valerie Parente (6-13-2021)

Catharsis

Catharsis by Valerie Parente

When she asked “How do you deal with the toxicity of the public?”
I said “Write, write, write,
channel all your frustration in creation,
create, create, create,
channel all your energy into artistic placement,
paint words into memorable phrases,
find meaning in the oddest places,
make a collection of your lessons,
help the lost find their blessings,
the hardship will always get better,
and the wisdom goes on forever,
find your catharsis and give it away,
translate the world that lives in your brain,
be the God you want God to be,
and then you will find your peace.”

– Valerie Parente (6-7-2021)

I Want To Be Heard

I Want To Be Heard by Valerie Parente

It’s not that I want to be famous,
it’s that I want to be heard,
and I know I can touch you,
if you get in touch with my words.

I took a lot of carefully constructed time
from a child to the adult I am now
I try my best to add a positive spin
a piece of beauty in an ugly crowd.

There is nothing more important than a voice
I realized that when I was a sick teen
and if you don’t like what you hear
you sure as hell have the right to intervene.

I saw a lot of talk about mental disorders
that glamorized the illness over healing
and I knew right then and there
I wanted to patch over the bleeding.

There’s are always silver linings to our pain
and it took a long time for me to see them
but the one thing that saves me every day
is the process of creating and artistic freedom.

I didn’t go through hell for nothing,
mental health awareness is the goal,
there’s a darkness we can manipulate,
shedding light in the shadows.

Make it meta, make it metaphorical,
make these poems layered infinitely,
I’ve got your back and that’s a promise,
if you’re kind enough to listen to me.

– Valerie Parente (6-7-2021)

Fever Dream

Fever Dream by Valerie Parente

It should not be hard to believe
her manifesto is written in poetry
a declaration of every insight
she finalized with the moonlight.
A quill pen in her hand
from the feather of a phoenix
and her tempo flows and flows
a silver tongue put to a scroll.
That poet’s name, its Valerie
a doll manifesting her fever dream
collecting lessons like mannequins
while she learns to love again.

– Valerie Parente (6-5-2021)

Treehouse

Treehouse by Valerie Parente

Started from the soil,
these roots, they intertwine,
like veins with a pulse,
a great time to be alive.

Then we branched out,
like antlers on a doe,
smelling the outdoors,
and now it feels like home.

This treehouse, I like to climb,
we go up to a fairytale place,
so whimsical and evergreen,
since the seasons have changed.

The sun stretches its hours,
the moon, it peaks at night,
the day has brings experience,
the evening, an owl’s mind.

Half the year I am longing,
for my favorite spot,
so when the weather clears,
you’ll find me on the treetops.

Don’t tell me I’m the one,
if I’m still hibernating,
the real me doesn’t falter,
it speaks with a cadence.

I don’t resent the grey,
it shows me where I’ve been,
I can appreciate the green,
when the grey finally ends.

Well I guess that’s the truth,
where Persephone could be found,
half the year under the earth,
half the year in a treehouse.

– Valerie Parente (6-5-2021)

Under My Skin

Under My Skin by Valerie Parente

They say “you used to be afraid
what is it that changed?”
and the truth of the matter is
fear still crawls under my skin
made from germs that stain
the touch censors in my brain
with adrenaline on the run
running towards my love
because there’s a difference
between hearing and listening
and I still hear it under my flesh
but I listen fifty percent less
there comes a time when I wash
much lighter, no more scratching off
those bloody knuckles are a thing of the past
because when you touch my hand I want it to last
that anxiety inside still cowers
but the person outside is louder
so I’m carving out the time
to be uncomfortably alive.

– Valerie Parente (6-4-2021)

I think God is an artist…

I think God is an artist… by Valerie Parente

More and more each day
I realize that mental illness is poetic.
So many ironies,
so many metaphors,
I think God is an artist…
I’m afraid of what I already am
and that brought me to my knees,
how the mind is like a nesting doll
mirroring the larger reality.
The more lessons I learn
the more I’m able to recognize
the sense of humor
in God’s artistic mind…
it’s kind of sick,
it’s kind of beautiful,
it’s so poetic,
like my own soul…
and maybe that’s the truth
that your maker is no more than you
that your very identity
is one with the God that sees it through.

– Valerie Parente (5-29-2021)

Cherry Blossom Scent

Cherry Blossom Scent by Valerie Parente

I always liked the cherry blossom scent
and how it made me feel in my adolescence
just a school girl with a crush
before I was too scared to touch
with potential towering so high
before I channeled it into a demise.

I died once before, so sickly thin and jaded
it changed my brain chemistry and how it operated
took over a decade to undo those patterns
never gone, never lost, but now I know how to battle.
I’m stronger now, from the inside out
it happened for a reason, I trust that now.

Everyone has a challenge, and this was mine
multiple mental illnesses, merging and intertwined.
It’s that smell of cherry blossom hand sanitizer
my mind goes back, but this time I’m wiser.
So it is, my perception, ripened from the strife
I’m here now, I’m breathing, and I wouldn’t change this life.

– Valerie Parente (5-28-2021)