All in the Head


All in the Head

There is a pain
that spots my brain;
I sometimes think of it
as a birthmark.

Only I have a birthmark; it spreads
the continent of Australia palely
over one thigh.

So not exactly
a birthmark, more akin
to the brindlng
of Gerard Manly Hopkins’
cows, God’s dappling–
except that a pox
comes more to mind.

I do not write
of a head-ache.
I write of pain
whose spread even the moon waxing gibbous, glorious,
through the black-veined climb of limb, through
the capillaries
of night-branched sky,
cannot stanch,
even as the brain observes, awed,
beauty, the wholly

We cannot help
how we are made;
some of us with a burst heart lodged
in our foreheads,
a splaying mass that refuses to stay down under
even as we stand beneath
a Northern
light night sky,
both part of it
and not part,
some wrong-headed beating
as if it had
caught wings,
as if it were a bird,
not heart, or part
of a bird.

We don’t like to speak
of these things, but how else are we
to make a space
where we
can see?

A draftish poem for Real Toads Tuesday Open Platform. Sorry for the length.  Also, the picture is not the one I have in my mind, but one I had on my computer; maybe will update if I get a better one.  As a process note, Gerard Manley Hopkins has a beautiful poem about pied (meaning spotted) beauty.

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19 Comments on “All in the Head”

  1. fritzyfrea Says:

    The picture is good. We don’t need your apology as a reader. Very good poem too.

  2. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) Says:

    Powerful — and disturbing!

    (If I may, I think you need a comma after ‘Only’ — otherwise it reads, for a minute, as if you are saying you are the only person to have a birthmark.)

  3. Brendan Says:

    Birth marks are like congenital defects, the mark and mar and out of the marl comes a poetry. My birthmark was a red heart shape with an arrow through it, right side up, over my heart. It migrated south to my ankle when I began peeking at the ladies when I was 3. Also have a congenital ganglia in the right temporal lobe which caused (they say) the seizures, possibly these migraines too, and (I think) poetry. What would we be without ’em? Too blank. Your poem paints such a lovely, bittersweet avenue for all of this.

  4. The metaphors for pain are so vivid in this.. the parallels made me feel the pain actually.

  5. hedgewitch Says:

    A feeling exploration of how we are marked, owned, by a defect or a trial, yet how it also brings a need for dealing with it along, which provides a strength or insight perhaps we might not otherwise have–a birthmark is fairly innocuous–especially compared to a burst heart–yet it is in some sense a very singular identifier, as is the pain the narrator describes. In the end, the reader feels perhaps it is more than physical, some injury of the soul as well as twist of the body. Hope all is well with you, k. In awe that you are able to write at this level after the thrills and chills of April–I am enjoying some time off from the demands of the pen.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha. Well, I don’t know about any level of writing but I do like to keep going. I am feeling much better flu-wise but stayed (working!) an extra day upstate. On train now for good old nyc which I understand to be at height of floral season so should be okay. Thanks. K.

  6. Jim Says:

    I had my hand on a patch of skin that my doctor says “don’t worry about it, cosmetic.” But I can feel it.
    My ears ring. The last time I went to the dr. I saw a German specialist who said he could not find anything wrong. I told him, tongue in cheek, “It must all be in my head.” The doc got up, went out, slamming the door on his way. He doesn’t read minds either.
    This is a nice poem, I like the way you ‘progressed it’ to deeper and deeper insights. What would life be like without pain, pain of ANY KIND at one time or another? A child too young to tell about it?

  7. Sanaa Says:

    Intense and powerful..! Well penned..!
    Lots of love

  8. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    The whole stanza which begins, we cannot help how we are made, made me think very deeply about pain, stigma and living with the deck of cards we’ve been dealt.

  9. This is wonderful – and in the stanzas beginning “I do not write” and “I cannot help” you absolutely outdid yourself. Fantastic.

  10. mhwarren Says:

    The last stanza is powerful- how else indeed? And you made the space that I can see how we are shaped by all we have to struggle with. I love this.

  11. Herotomost Says:

    Holy cow that was breathtaking in scope and imagery. The polarity in the images is quite effective and the dark tone is unbelievable. Yay for you, this is quite the poem, I enjoyed it immensely!!!!

  12. M Says:

    Today I had to pick up my younger son from school, migraines, his 3rd in a week, and tomorrow he goes in for tests. So, this one hit dead center for me today. I’m always trying to make that space you describe in the last stanza; on the edge(s), as it were. What describes a hole? That which remains… ~

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      A good description–but I am worried about your son–hopefully, it is just tension? I think young kids are under so much pressure–anyway, all best your way. k.

  13. Marian Says:

    This is such a beautiful description of pain… and what might on another day (or maybe very day) feel like defeat. To look at the other side of the constant feels unusual, and certainly poetic. Almost attractive.

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