The Hands

People walk on by hands lifted in melancholy lost hope,
Sinking their faces deeper in their phone’s black mirror.
Car horns make a syncopated rhythm to echo the pain,
But the conversed words drop to whispered exchanges.

Signs written in ink or maybe blood with last thoughts,
Washed away with the falling rain and endless tears.
Lifting a hat now as threadbare as the shaking hands,
But its scattered bronzed coins are kicked in laughter.

A forgotten hero that not even he now knows his name,
Gave all he had to protect but gave himself nightmares.
Every day he sits in the daytime with his hands stretched,
Hoping one day someone will take them to dance again.

By night he walks the streets trying to find his way back,
Or a key to a time machine to stop the groundhog day.
The invisible brother, cousin, father or uncle to anyone,
Who’s hands only want to feel warmth and love again.

© Fi S. J. Brown

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Endless

Standing at the edge of the trench,
Like a hound waiting for the hunt,
And the whistle that begins it all.

Stepping blind as go over the top,
Gunfire ringing from ear to ear,
As Armageddon calls the shots.

Turning the poppy fields to red,
With rivers of blood and tears,
All in freedom’s tasteless name.

Telling tales to remember today,
Of fallen soldiers from the past,
With most in their thankful praise.

Forgetting the traumatised ones,
Those returned forever changed,
Forever at war with their demons.

Learning answers but never learnt,
As history continues to repeat itself,
And the innocent lives lost continues.

Dreaming in the west wind of peace,
While the eastern embers burn on,
And a south just wants to be heard.

Imaging with the words of Lennon,
But know lamenting is no solution,
When hate and fear sing louder.

Pondering if there is another way,
Filled with colour, love and empathy,
And one day Planet Earth will smile.

© Fi S. J. Brown

What you don’t see

This week is Depression Awarenesses Week, which this year is focusing on #whatyoudontsee. As open as I am with acknowledging I have depression on social media it is not as look at me but more a listen to me not judge or mute me.
By writing about my experiences it helps give them a voice of their own that can be heard by others and thereby lose the power they try have over me. Another reason is the stigma many of us with depression (and other mental health illnesses) still suffer from and it is about time that this taboo was shattered for good. A final reason is not everyone has a voice or able to talk about depression, so I am trying to open doors in order that people feel welcomed not judge or mocked.
To anyone reading this that thinks that depression is abnormal, consider this; if I asked everyone of my friends to make a cake I would have a variety of cakes with no two being exactly the same, each one is representative of the individual that made the cake but none of them would be abnormal. In the same respect we are all shaped by our experiences, traditions and beliefs. Imagine wearing our neighbour’s underwear every day as we both live in the same neighbourhood or feeling the odd one out at family gatherings despite sharing genes. Equally, we may share the same experiences but how they impact upon us varies, and sometimes we cannot “just get over it” as the trauma is still deep even decades after the event(s) may have occurred.
When the black dog calls, it is like a dog barking constantly at me from the garden until I give in and let him in. Then he licks my face all over till it is wet, but in reality these are my tears. In the past I would sit in silence for days as not even my favourite music that got me through my teenage years would bring me comfort. However, now I get out my pen to write or put on my walking boots armed with my camera to go for a walk, sometimes take a piece of clay to make my feelings 3D, other times I go to one of the many musical instruments I play to let them become a song and also cooking or baking as help me focus on the present moment, especially making bread by hand. So for me finding coping mechanisms like these as well as loyal, loving and trusting friends is what helps so I do not give up and remembering there are stars shining and ringing even when it looks pitch black outside.
© Fi S. J. Brown

I wear a white poppy

I do not wear a red poppy as is my choice, no I am not being disrespectful to the dead. The red poppy makes me feel like I have a bullet wound upon my chest with its blood pouring out upon the streets as I walk in a strange empathy with those that fell on foreign streets and fields near and far, then and now. Everyone should be free to remember and mark this day in their own way, united in our respect the dead.

I do not wear a red poppy as it does not remind me of all the victims of war. We stop for two minutes silence remembering our fallen armed forces that give their lives but what of the innocent unarmed civilians killed or maimed in the name of war? If it symbolised our sorrow and regret to all that lose their lives in wars (i.e. all nationalities, armed forces and civilians alike) and not a select few, then I may wear a red one.

I do not wear a red poppy as war is painted with in history and the media as a heroic sacrifices and violence is necessary but it is really cruel, bloody and inglorious. How many of the armed forces return from their service changed forever by what they have experienced? Do we respect and honour those return from killing or maiming another human being, but lose part of themselves and/or forever haunted by their experiences?

I do not wear a red poppy as it is not only humans beings that have given their lives in war’s name but animals too. During World War I, dogs and pigeons were used to deliver messages between frontline trenches and further afield. Horses, donkeys and elephants have been used as beasts of burden. Today, animals continue to be used, for example to detect explosives. We rely on them so much but how soon we forget their aid.

I wear a white poppy as it is a symbol of the belief that there are better ways to resolve conflicts, and embodies values that reject killing fellow human beings for whatever reason. Over a hundred years ago the ‘war to end all wars‘ began and yet we still see wars around the world, but I dream on of peace.. Why a white poppy chosen to symbolise this nobody is certain but it wasn’t intended to compete with the red one, only to be different from it.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Semicolon

I have seen over the last month various posts pertaining to a semicolon (;) tattoo. For anyone who has not come across it, the semicolon tattoo is a mental health awareness trend among suicide survivors to self harmers, those with depression to addiction, as a metaphor for a moment when a person contemplates suicide – in other words, thinks about ending the story of their life – and yet they continue through their difficulties.

As someone that has depression, in the past self harmed and come close to suicide this trend hits very close to home. Although I have no tattoos (per se) I am not against them, just one of those things meant for others not me. Equally, I do not follow fads or trends and they quickly lose the meaning with which they were started and to those it was/is a statement. Will a mark really cause others to pause, laugh or pity another if they see it?

For me I do not need a ; on my wrist because I have a phrase on my left wrist, which in my mind is tattooed on invisible ink. Those that are close to me know the phrase, its origin and the deeper meanings. So to me it has power beyond the words themselves and does not be seen by the world to explain something very deeply personal or justify any of it.

Instead let us talk about mental health without stigmatising it further, instead of a semicolon let us put a full stop to say enough.Alternatively, use a comma, where by we pause to think of a friend and pick up the phone to text/call/Facebook them to say ‘hello’ and ‘I was thinking about you’. Finally, remember nobody is a freak or abnormal, they’re living this difficult thing we call life the best they can and in ways that are normal to them.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Disability

Today is a day the United Nations has marked as “International day of persons with disabilities.”

For some a disability is something they can see, for example someone that has a physical disability so use a wheelchair, those with a learning difficulty such as autism and people with a visual or hearing issue.

There are also hidden disabilities such as dyspraxia and dyslexia that impact on our ability to learn, mental health issues varying from depression and bipolar to PTSD and schizophrenia, and epilepsy to brain injury.

Despite any disability we are all human, with a heart to love with compassion and empathy. So is it not about time we stopped the stigmatism of disability, appreciate we all cannot do everything, and there is always someone who has it harder than us.

Fi S. J. Brown