Three Poems About Getting Through Depression


Arm-Wrestling the Sunlight

I saw an orange Cessna
rising above a gray
mare standing stock-still
in her electrified corral,
nostrils choked with steam
& haunch muscles bitten
by horseflies of frost
& winter rode the horse
nowhere but lifted the airplane
& I considered these two
fighting styles, where I have
been the horse statue but now
I’m trying to arm-wrestle
the sunlight for an hour
each day like an amateur pilot
or Jacob in the bible
going mano a mano
with some bully angel
who hobbles him for no reason,
plucking his hip tendon
with one finger like it were
a ribbon tied with a trick knot.
Still, Jacob says,
I will not let you go until you bless me.

Well, fuck you, ostrich angel
on my chest. Say uncle.
Bless me until my name
is also Israel, He who struggles
with God.
I will not let you go until you bless me.
Rust me in my hangar; I fight
with endurance. But just
take down this fence & I
will eat the wind
like an escaped horse
galloping on the tarmac, racing airplanes
& though I limp
I win.

Dressing for Baptism

Courage is a series of black doors.
They are always unlocked, though they look
like the water of deep caves. I must leave
this room today. I wish my love
were in the kitchen, but I know she is not.
I wish my love were on the porch
drinking coffee curbed with enough sugar
for a child. She is not. Two mirrors facing each other
cannot number the empty rooms between us,
yet I must go outside today into the wilderness
where every breeze smells like her. Like bone jasmine.
Must tell myself the wet-colored world is not a trap,
for I am already being digested by my bedclothes.
I must dress for baptism. I do not believe in God,
but clean water, yes. The magic only works
if you wear your finest suit & stroll into the river
confidently as if you were naked among the nude
& expected to float. I will put on something fine
today, ruin it in the rain. A jacket, a silk tie.
A bully nearly drowned me as a child; now I prefer
not to swim. I can still taste brown algae
in my sinuses when I step into rivers. Not today.
Today I will stride forward into the quicksilver
until it reaches my belt, my double windsor,
my spirit-level eyes, & swallows me like a holy fish,
lays me back in its sky-grey bed alone as I always am
without her until I breathe. Hallelujah & welcome.


First run in a while, I walk & can’t stop walking.
Unready to have both feet off the ground together,

a fledgling at the edge of space. So I walk, because
damn it I can’t crawl anymore, beast that I was,

a house cat padding the carpet for four months.
Rodent packing myself in fat for winter torpor.

No. Better to starve & be feral. You don’t grow up,
you just change animals. I still fear humans,

but now I want them to fear me too, a loose coyote.
I move through their suburbs hungry for marrow

of lesser dogs. I glare at passersby like obscured gold.
Want to be simple as the word Fuck by itself, a bark

in the blackness. Whatever Love means, I wish
I could not comprehend it but could kill it, feed it

to a mate. Rising saliva fills me as I imagine a hunt,
chasing nothing I need to explain to you. This male

in rut, broken-antlered. Mammalian in his hurt.
He’s all I am. I lift my heels. I trot. I fall & fly.

About Christian Drake

A six-time National Poetry Slam competitor from Northampton, Massachusetts, Christian lived, slammed, & taught in Washington, DC, Oakland, CA, & Albuquerque, NM before returning to New England. He works as a jack-of-all-trades middle school teacher & spends his free time narrating audiobooks, playing men's roller derby & hiking the splendid Berkshire Mountains in search of things to put in his pockets. View all posts by Christian Drake

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