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Therapy Poems

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

Art by Maanvi Kapur

Today there has been so much talk of things exploding

into other things, so much that we all become curious, that we

all run outside into the hot streets

and hug. Romance is a grotto of eager stones

anticipating light, or a girl whose teeth

you can always see. With more sparkle and pop

is the only way to live. Your confetti tongue explodes

into acid jazz. Small typewriters

that other people keep in their eyes

click away at all our farewell parties. It is hard

to pack for the rest of your life. Someone is always

eating cold cucumber noodles. Someone will drop by later

to help dismantle some furniture. A lot can go wrong

if you sleep or think, but the trees go on waving

their broken little hands.


is a great magician

“the cage” he screams

and the cage of birds vanishes

he picks up a glass of champagne

spits out another frog

I am proud of him

he is getting much better

light pours from his eyes

“do not be afraid” he says

he pulls a writhing snake

out of his mouth

I throw up a little

into the trash bin

next to his desk

I am a sensitive young man

on the verge of becoming

an even more sensitive adult

my therapist knows this

he stands dramatically

in the center of the room

a second therapist

steps into view

she has been hiding

behind the velvet curtain

her lips are painted red

she pulls a knife

out of her tuxedo

“no no no” my therapist says

for a moment time is frozen

then she jams the knife

into my therapist’s chest

his body thumps to the ground

a blood stain forms slowly

someone shuts off the lights

I am speechless

I can hear a bird cry outside

my hands begin to clap

and then it dawns on me

I have never loved anyone


the hard season


split you through.

do not worry.

you will bleed water.

do not worry.

this is grief.

your face will fall out and down your skin


there will be scorching.

keep speaking the years from their hiding places.

keep coughing up smoke from all the deaths you

have died.

keep the rage tender.

because the soft season will come.

it will come.




both hands in your chest.

up all night.

up all of the nights.

to drink all damage into love.


I was relief, once, for a doctor on vacation

and got a call from a man on a window sill.

This was New York, a dozen stories up.

He was going to kill himself, he said.

I said everything I could think of.

And when nothing worked, when the guy

was still determined to slide out that window

and smash his delicate skull

on the indifferent sidewalk, “Do you think,”

I asked, “you could just postpone it

until Monday, when Dr. Lewis gets back?”

The cord that connected us—strung

under the dirty streets, the pizza parlors, taxis,

women in sneakers carrying their high heels,

drunks lying in piss—that thick coiled wire

waited for the waves of sound.

In the silence I could feel the air slip

in and out of his lungs and the moment

when the motion reversed, like a goldfish

making the turn at the glass end of its tank.

I matched my breath to his, slid

into the water and swam with him.

“Okay,” he agreed.


We had been married for six or seven years

when my wife, standing in the kitchen one afternoon, told me

that she screams underwater when she swims—

that, in fact, she has been screaming for years

into the blue chlorinated water of the community pool

where she does laps every other day.

Buttering her toast, not as if she had been

concealing anything,

not as if I should consider myself

personally the cause of her screaming,

nor as if we should perform an act of therapy

right that minute on the kitchen table,

—casually, she told me,

and I could see her turn her square face up

to take a gulp of oxygen,

then down again into the cold wet mask of the unconscious.

For all I know, maybe everyone is screaming

as they go through life, silently,

politely keeping the big secret

that it is not all fun

to be ripped by the crooked beak

of something called psychology,

to be dipped down

again and again into time;

that the truest, most intimate

pleasure you can sometimes find

is the wet kiss

of your own pain.

There goes Kath, at one pm, to swim her twenty-two laps

back and forth in the community pool;

—what discipline she has!

Twenty-two laps like twenty-two pages,

that will never be read by anyone.


These are really hard times, and it's important to seek help when we need it. In India, there is still a lot of mental stigma around mental health and therapy. It's also difficult to access affordable mental health care. Your Safe Hour is trying to bridge this gap and make therapy accessible to all. Follow their page and know more about this amazing effort by a team of young, dedicated individuals.

Artwork by Maanvi Kapur.


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