Anxiety & Trauma Poems
Listen to Laura Farrell read her own poems aloud:
I had a dream the other night
about fruit as a representation for love,
so i put a bowl of fruit out on my bedside table-
my favorite berries,
watched them shrivel up as the week went by,
time didn’t make sense, it never has
but the fruit was dry, attracting bugs, smelly,
not fruit like
more like trash
more like ick
flushed it down the toilet and washed my face,
dreams are dreams are dreams and
that is not truth
I sleepwalk at night, do things
is that truth
I can’t tell where i go
where time goes
and when i try to tell you how i feel,
maneuvering through a sensation i’m acquainted with but can still not articulate
I’ve been here before
but i return because lost is better than realization
Realization is a deep sadness
I had so many ideas for what was to be,
and now i’ve lost ideas,
i have become movement towards,
but the towards blurs, becomes nothing,
i eat cause i have to,
shower cause i smell,
throw the fruit away
because metaphor means nothing to me anymore.
it once did
but that was called mania
that was trauma,
isn’t life funny?
or something like that
something like that
more like some thing
that i never asked for
How many words do you know?
How many traumas do you have?
Draw a map.
I am on the bed, the lights are off, someone stronger is moving my body, someone stronger is going into my body. How many bodies are in the room? How many bodies are in my body? More than one.
Count the number of times you were in the hospital
Count the number of times you were in the police station
Draw a map.
Trauma is stored in a non-verbal part of the brain
Yet I try to understand it with language-
Grasping to the only logic I know,
I could never do math-
Language is all I have.
Count the number of words you know.
My body is a word now.
It’s hard to count the number of times it’s happened. It’s hard to count the number of things that have happened. I am gasping for air and things are being thrown. I stick my head out the window like it will help. I try to count the crosses in the chain link fence in the park across the street to the left of my apartment but a bottle hits my head.
The number of words you know by the time you are five
Predict your level of success,
What are the levels of success?
Draw a map.
It looks like a system not a map.
I was always saying, “what?” The teachers tested my hearing, later they said, “maladaptive daydreaming.” “Why does it take her so long to read?” It’s processing that takes a while, but I didn’t know that word.
How do you count words?
It’s a system not a map.
I try to tell you stories of myself but they don’t make sense
I always have to explain my vagueness,
It’s metaphorical- easier to access things this way
Easier to access things this way.
Count the number of times you asked me to specify
Count the number of times they asked me to specify,
Doctor, policeman, judge, friend, lover, parent
Draw a map
Languages are different in the hospital, the police station
Count the number of words you know
Count the number of ways you know how to express what happened
Is it legal, medical, academic?
Count the number of times it felt the opposite of a feeling
Count the number of times it was an explanation
Draw a map.
Count the number of systems,
the words that become a part of them
Count the number of words
Count the number of times you lost track of your count
I’m mourning the loss of you by myself
because you won’t talk to me.
I’m mourning the loss of everyone I have lost
And everyone I will ever lose
in this same moment.
It started with you but then it expanded.
I’m mourning the loss of things,
People that still exist but not to me.
I’m mourning the loss of what has been taken.
It all starts to compile into a list that runs through my head like
A news report,
“And on this day, hope was lost,”
And so on
I’ve found hope again and again
through time and space
sometimes it takes a particular type of work,
that feels like digging
Right now it’s buried somewhere I’ve forgotten,
like a time capsule with items from my childhood
but I cannot find my childhood home
and now I’m unsure if it ever existed.
Memory is funny because the more you return to it
the further it becomes from the thing that actually happened.
It’s like painting a picture without my glasses on,
This is what it is to recall.
Plus, I’ve never been a painter.
Only language has allowed me to access things,
and I speak in metaphor.
Life is really some type of entanglement.
I slow the news report down by drinking water,
writing this poem,
calling my mother.
It’s funny how things keep moving along anyway.
I’m trying to keep count.
I don’t know what counts and what doesn’t.
I become lost in the meaning
instead of the action.
Instead of the feeling even.
Sometimes I just need to figure out the reason.
Most times there isn’t any.
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my heart broke
in the same pattern last time,
this time I will be better
at putting it back together,
it’s funny how we turn pain
but I can’t help
but to laugh
after I finish
the pattern becomes a joke
have you ever been
cut so deeply
that you cannot
All you can do
Is witness it
an instinctual reaction
to avoid conflict
via appeasing behaviors.
I’m a people pleaser,
Watching Bambi as a child,
I always cried
during the scene when
Bambi’s mother takes him along
into the woods to find food.
When a Man shows up.
As they attempt to escape
his mother is shot and killed
by the Man,
leaving the little fawn
mournful and alone.
I couldn’t recognize my sadness,
instead I noticed the physical
tightness in my throat,
turned to my own mother
and asked what was happening,
wet around my eyes,
blurring my vision.
The movie looked different
I don’t know when I learned
to make myself
to please others
A fawn killed in the woods,
A fawn left alone,
mournful for the things
I’m tired of this narrative
But keep getting
caught inside it,
Like a trap
set in the woods
A device or enclosure
catch and retain
Allowing entry but
And all i want for
Is an out
Accounting for all others
A fawn seems weak in the woods.
When an animal knows
they are no longer in danger
Their body does not
hold onto the initial
Humans on the other hand
Store this information
in their bodies,
My map has grown worn,
I’ve lost track of where the traps
Have been set in the woods.
Or maybe it’s not the map
My vision is blurring again
And i can feel the wetness all around,
All kinds of wetness,
I remember the first time
Caught in a trap
I still wished them well
As they left me for
isolation as necessary,
lonely in my grief
i’ve grown resentful,
but hold it without another
for my Safety
witnessing tiny deaths
of what i thought it meant
and of what i wanted it to mean
and of imagined future
and of the recognition of the real
versus the real to me
and this process is not staged
and this process is at times,
and this process is at times,
and that too feels like a kind of
and by that i mean a kind of loss
where the grief sinks into your
trauma ignited something
new in me
the flame burned out
and i was left with
i could move through it
that way i could remember
and it works sometimes
and i come to grand realizations
in zoom therapy
and proclaim change
and i hold myself
and i walk with a purpose
and i create the meaning
and then something causes
bones fold in,
like a beach chair
the ever collapsible self
shifts into hiding
it feels like work
and it feels
and i too burn out
like the flame i
myself to be
and that too is
i am water though,
salt mixes into the skin
of course i am crying
i am water after all
And as the tears fell faster than before
a lightness came over me, as if they were
rinsing away a predicted avoidance
a performance I’ve become expert at
the tears did not create resolve but instead
welcomed a deep sadness that I’m familiar
with but do not visit often.
This is a breathful sadness, a place of gratitude
and a place of pain. It all tends to mix
together, it’s like watching birds in a flock disperse and
remembering they are not the same but connected
The tears typically bring their own flight but
instead of the rush, I sit still in the wet.
I’m not letting doors blow shut by the wind anymore,
instead finding ways to close them myself,
I’m looking out the window though, remembering where
I’ve come from