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 sensors 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)

I Feel The Earth

I Feel The Earth by Valerie Parente

I feel the earth,
under my toes,
it’s one of the only things,
that doesn’t feel gross.

The soil, the dirt, and me,
we are nature all the same,
I am one with the earth,
no such thing can contaminate.

I’ve always been in touch,
I just had to put it to paper,
material from the earth,
expressed back to the maker.

Don’t cry for me and my hang-ups,
every person has their own fight,
mine in particular was obsessive,
but I always felt the earth on my side.

– Valerie Parente (5-22-2021)

Erudite

Erudite by Valerie Parente

I went to hell and back,
studying my mental turmoil,
started as a kid with a task,
to get attention from the whole world.

When you’re a confused teen,
you feel so damn invisible,
then one special boy sees,
that’s when life got difficult.

I was always obsessive in nature,
and my imagination was a priority,
a perfectionist that was insecure,
so I excessively daydreamed.

I had talent back then,
but I didn’t use it for good,
I delved in sickness instead,
when one boy no longer looked.

Ten years gone, ten years dismissing,
that’s what the anorexia did,
ten years studying, ten years witnessing,
all the trauma adolescence inflicted.

It was circumstantial and biochemical,
and now I finally understand,
if there was any hope for normal,
I sure as hell didn’t stand a chance.

Now I’m a young woman with a pen,
and I’ve examined my psyche well,
as an expert on where I’ve been,
I make art in the name of mental health.

Believe it or not,
I wouldn’t change any single thing,
all the anguish I fought,
it helped me see another dimension.

There’s compassion in the stories I write,
there’s understanding behind each phrase,
there’s a past that helps me empathize,
there’s a purpose that will never go away.

I no longer think in terms of “me”,
I see your conscience and its fight,
my every move doesn’t need to be seen,
but I’ll shed light if it helps your life.

This is our world to better,
we are the children of the moon,
using psychology we study together,
out of the lunacy we’ve been through.

I’m going to nurture someone, someday,
in a cycle I finally want to be part of,
and that sentient bundle can embrace,
a worldview where mental health is honored.

– Valerie Parente (5-22-2021)

Seraphic Daydreams

Seraphic Daydreams by Valerie Parente

Hope has always been so much bigger than the pain and the recovery,
Seraphic daydreams have always been the predominant part of me,
An ideal reality I blew into the air, as natural as the wind,
but I worried about the intrusive thoughts that persist,
and the truth is, you can think all you want,
but it’s belief in the heart…
that is the real charge.
I do not fear my demonic OCD fixations anymore,
because I know they don’t represent my angelic core.

– Valerie Parente (5-10-2021)

Third Poetry & Prose Collection

Do you want to own a hard copy of my latest poetry?
My third poetry and prose collection is currently in the works and includes fan favorites such as:

Not Bionic
These Laurels Were Never Meant To Rest
The Spider Princess
Material Girl
Seascape

Like Fine China
Poetry: Sight and Sound
Fishnets
Pamper Yourself

Celestial Being

…and over 150 more pieces!

Make sure to Follow this blog, valerieparente.com, to stay up to date for the new book release!

The Owl Mind

The Owl Mind by Valerie Parente

Nocturnal under the moonlight,
with visions of horror,
so many fears when it becomes night,
like a bad dream in color.

Intrusive images play in rotations,
amplified by the dark,
wide-eyed in your fixations,
as you perform your thoughts.

Something about the evening,
the howls elongate and stretch,
so foreboding like a demon,
so much worse when the sun sets.

Vigilant on treetops like a tower,
is it paranoia or being wise?
Everything is scarier after hours,
and yes, that includes my mind.

The owl mind is exhausting,
the owl mind you can’t trust,
but there is no other option,
dark will always follow dusk.

– Valerie Parente (3-31-2021)

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)

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 conscience 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)