Trying to Catch a Bird by Stamping Feet

The following was written by a dear friend of mine, Kim.  I imagine it being read in the style of slam poetry.

Kim is a brilliant artist, a wonderful mom, a great wife/partner, a minister, a woman, a daughter, a friend. 


Read it, ponder it, then read it again.



···  words  ···

words are preposterous – words are not the way into me

into this place of darkness and madness and mania and flight

there are no words, no sounds, to draw you in

if I were to try and tell you who I am – how I am – what I am

it would be like trying to catch a bird by stamping feet

as you approach by yelling at it  –

hey bird  – hey bird  – hey bird –


the bird will do what it needs to survive – it will fly away

and so will I – the  ‘wisdom’ of mania will urge me to soar

and the darkness of depression will push me to fall….

either way, I leave


because words are formed thought –

because they require spelling to be understood

and grammar for context and clarity

they are bound by a structure that does not allow for chaos

and because my thoughts at the moment are made up of

smooth and shrieking, despairing and cruel, urging, ever urging voices,

voices that tell me of their secret plans but know I will not tell

I do not think that language will serve us well

because the voice you hear, the voice that finds the surface

sounds familiar, like the person you know and love

sounds intelligent, like someone who is sane and responsible

sounds …well… ok….


because the voice you hear is the voice of the moderate

this voice allows some misery to seep through but oh, not all,

it will allow some pain to shout out but not the roar, the screaming,

it will allow the hello and how are you and I care, I care,

to coincide with a smiling face, a soft tone, outstretched arms

but not the snarl, not the face of the reaper

or the weapons of words that lie like grapes on a plate

waiting there, enticing me –

no – the biting, cold, gunshot words that I know will break skin

cut the deepest;  shatter perception; stay on the fruit tray

and instead I admit to feeling grumpy and I snap but do not bite


the ugliness of my depression knows how to pass unnoticed, unheard –

it understands the twists and turns of inquiry and passes, always passes –

 it even allows the tourists – doctors, residents, family and friends

safe passage in my brain, a tour, rooms roped off, the guide entertaining,

it knows, is sure,smug in it’s belief that there is no way

to be caught – no way to be tamed -no way to be taken

and so it holds me prisoner but tells me I am free


a shackled tiger – a whale in a tank – a monkey on a chain

they are wondrous beings – but they are kept – as am I.


Kim allowed me to share this writing with you stating “combatting mental health stigma and breaking the silence around it is something I am deeply committed to and so I open the door widely to my battered brain.”


I ask that you honour her wishes and do your part in breaking down those doors.

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