WWP Poem #1: Detonate

I am a box of nerves,
a bead curtain of tangled arteries: messengers,
blue and livid in the sunlight. They are
wire sapphires running silent underneath this skin
of clothes. Point to point heartbeats traveling up and down
my limpid tubes, my wonderlands in lapis lazuli.

They used to be rubies. They would light up
when the world would climb on top of me and demand
my pennies to let me cross the river each morning. And
when I didn’t have pennies, I paid the boatman with
my blood made out of TNT: hold my breath,
stand next to buildings, and detonate. Take all in range
down with me; engulf the brittle with the mad,
the genius with the fool, with a mouth of fire that is
made out of me with teeth like electric ghosts. But there were
no orthodox promises of Paradise in my explosions – just my own gospel
written in little armies of broken red glass. This is why
I used to look for the shrapnel inside my arms. But
it’s different now: the tubes have been remade
from supercooled lava.

I want you to open the box. See how
red light sneaks in behind the tubes and
turns them purple when you pull up the lid. And
I like it this way. When the lava first cooled, I thought
they were obsidian, dead, made out of burnt out passion
like the head of an extinguished match. But when I
watched, I saw them light up from within,
bellies expanding and growing like Christmas: then,
the black faded away and became blue. I should tell you
that I borrowed the red light from the boatman: sometimes,
I still need tears to feel alive.

Make no mistake: I can still explode
when I want to. There are still times when
sandwich boards and street-worn gospels are not enough
and I need to take down all the buildings in a six-mile radius
with the contents of my own chest. But
I can burn candle gentle when I need to – not everything
needs an explosion. Sometimes, the littlest fire
speaks the loudest.

Written 5/11/10
© 2010 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.
This poem was written for We Write Poems Prompt #1: Boxes.

I had to meditate on this a while for a couple of reasons. First of all, nothing bubbled up to the surface until today, and I have a strong commitment that I try to adhere to that I will not force a poem if it isn’t happening.

Secondly, I began some medication over the weekend to help with my anxiety (I should note that people with Asperger Syndrome often have a harder time dealing with stress and anxiety than the neurotypical population). I was on antidepressants about ten years ago, and they made me feel numb: it was like experiencing reality through a wall of cotton, and I was afraid this was going to happen again. This was especially more so when I tried to write poems several times over the last few days and nothing would come out. But I inhaled, exhaled, and thought about it some more, realizing that maybe that my internal state — which is decidedly calmer — is what is supposed to happen when your nerves aren’t overly sensitive and right up near the surface. I dug deeper, and this is where this poem came from.

I’ve made a commitment that whatever happens with my writing, I will keep letting myself dig inside and draw from the ink well like I did before. I will still admit that there is a part of me worried that the new meds will affect my writing. I think I’ll have to get used to my nerves not inflaming my emotions, and I’ll have to retrain myself a bit.

Let me know what you think. And I hope you enjoyed this poem.



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About ravenswingpoetry

I am a 38 year old writer from Columbus, OH and the creator of Raven's Wing Poetry. I am a poet, seeker, fellow traveler, and autistic.
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14 Responses to WWP Poem #1: Detonate

  1. Dear Nicole,

    I am living with manic-depression and have Asperger’s and other “fun” things in my family. I know what it’s like to deal with meds that deaden your desires and creativity.

    The hardest part is finding that delicate balance of right meds, right doctor, and right counselor. Luckily, I’ve found all three…

    Having said that, LOVED the poem. Your self-possession, as reflected in the notions of both explosion (capability to make the big noise) and “candle gentle” (exquisite turn of phrase), shows you are in touch with those forces of nature within that give way to beauty. You will be an irrepressible font of poetry in due time. I’ll follow you. Peace. Amy Barlow Liberatore, AKA Sharp Little Pencil

  2. barbara says:

    Incredible visuals in this, Nicole.
    I’m fortunate never to have had to complexities you deal with. minor seizures and depression, but med changes can be a trial even for me. mood “stabilizers” that send you on manic buying binges, low dose anti-depressants that depress one day and then keep you awake for a week. bletch!
    If it’s one that will let you manage better day to day, without feeling leaden, you have a winner. Your creative area may be tricky to find now, but obviously you haven’t lost it.

  3. This is beautiful, really beautiful Nicole – images wrenched from deep within you.

  4. Dramatic intense images. I enjoyed reading this poem.

    Linda Frances

  5. pamela says:

    You haven’t lost your touch a bit. This is wonderful. I understand the use of meds can be perplexing. I was just diagnosed with bi-polar disease last year. But I had to stop the meds cause they made me feel much worse. I hope you find a good middle ground that works for you.

  6. neil reid says:

    I am so glad that you let meditation bring you here Nicole. I might as well simply say, “yes”, and keep repeating it. And one can be witness, even to a fire, yet stand calm, seeing clear. This poem is like glass, crystal and eloquent. However you arrived, it is well arrived. Trustworthy, what’s in your hand I think.

    Thank you Nicole for sharing your journey and this poem here, today. ~Neil

  7. rob kistner says:

    Nicole – Powerful piece, well written — and the line with the most familiar resonance for me:
    “sometimes I still need tears to feel alive”.

    I have been diagnosed ADHD, Manic Depressive, Bi-Polar, and OCD in my long “crazy” life. At the worst of it I was on Lamictal, Ativan and Wellbutrin in a weird little daytime chemical cocktail my analyst had mixed up for me — with an Ambien chaser at night. It got to the point I couldn’t stay awake, I would forget everything, and my creativity was shot to sh#t!

    What I missed the most were tears. I could no longer cry. I felt locked up — emotionally dead. Finally, the beginning of this year, I flushed every one of those damned drugs down the toilet, went cold turkey, and now I just ride the emotional “coaster”. I can cry again, laugh, get angry, glow, dream, rain, thunder, lightening, radiate, sing, make love — and write again like a raging storm… I love it, I am alive — AGAIN!!

    I am who I am, and screw the headshrinkers — I make no more apologies…

    My wife admitted on our recent anniversary weekend that she hated the docile zombie I’d become, and she and I work together now so I keep my detonations and free falls to a minimum these days. I do not recommend this to anyone else, I am learning it is an intense way to live — but at least I am living, raw and reverberant.

    Sorry for going off here… 😉 I’m just sharing with you my situation — because your excellent work here put me in touch with it all…

    Keep shining bright Nicole…

    Image & Verse

  8. Robin says:

    Wow. Powerful poem here! Thanks for sharing this and expressing your feelings with such powerful and effective words.

  9. Irene says:

    I need to take down all the buildings in a six-mile radius
    with the contents of my own chest.

    It does feel like that to the reader as well. Full of fire. Whatever lives inside you Nicole, it’s livid and alive.

  10. Paul Oakley says:

    Dramatic, intense, compelling images here, Nicole! I love it!

    You are in my thoughts as you become accustomed to the medical regimen and make adjustments as needed.

  11. wayne says:

    holy moleeeeeeee….this is great…starting with a box of nerves..is sooo good…then burning a gentle candle…then words for a poem emerge…..love it….thanks for sharing this

  12. angie says:

    amazing, beautiful images here.
    wonderful piece.

  13. Pingback: To Med or Not to Med | Woman With Asperger's

  14. Pingback: Poetry for Autistics Speaking Day | Woman With Asperger's

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