My poem “Disorder” is currently available in issue 27.3 of The Sow’s Ear Poetry ReviewSow’s Ear is a distinctive venue linking poetry and kindred arts in print. Based in Winchester, Virginia, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review has been publishing since 1989.

What Inspired This Poem that Features a Metaphor for Mental Illness

As I mention in my story of how I became a poet, much of my work stems from my experiences growing up in rural NV surrounded by some very dysfunctional individuals. Was it all the nuclear fallout that littered the landscapes of the American Southwest that bread so much insanity? Perhaps.

Like many kids raised by crazy people, I was frequently diagnosed with a variety of disorders by a parade of mental health professionals who were sympathetic to the claims of my caretakers. To date, I have been diagnosed with:

  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Clinical Depression
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Cyclothemia

As it would turn out, none of these diagnoses would end up being accurate. I was fortunate to find some better-prepared therapists later in life who would help me understand that I was being cast as the problem in order to make my caretakers feel better about their own miserable lives.

“Disorder” is a tour of my own mental landscape through the lens of being labeled crazy by everyone around me. It features a metaphor for mental illness in the form of a conceit. A conceit is an extended metaphor where two unlike things are compared. One of the most famous poems featuring a conceit is The Flea by John Donne. In my own poem, I attempt a much less ambitious metaphor by comparing mental illness to being in a room.

The Opening Lines of “Disorder”

The first box you carve out
inside yourself stays empty
for a while, and then gets filled
up with junk: dark, September,
waking up afraid.

Read the Whole Poem

Plus a host of other great poetry in issue 27.3 of The Sow’s Poetry Review, available here:

Pssst… My First Chapbook of Poems