Anti-depressant Pantoum

Yoked to my brain, ox-like,

the drug, long metabolized,

for much of my adult life

has ploughed my insides


The drug, long metabolized,

has played me out each night

ploughing my insides

to the vox populi of AM stations


Plays me out some nights

concerto for nerves and synapses

to the vox populi of AM stations

the conductor raises the baton


Concerto for nerves and synapses

the notes never change

the conductor raises the baton

to which I am chained


The notes never change

a hundred player pianos

to which I am chained

score my blown-up dreams


A hundred player pianos

play flu-vox-amine

scoring my blown-up dreams

for love of science


Play flu-vox-a-mine

chalky Valentine candy

for love of science

I Luv U, Be Mine                                           


Chalky Valentine candy

in childproof vessel innocuous

I Luv U, Be Mine                   

in interlocking crystals


In childproof vessel innocuous!

For much of my adult life

interlocking crystals

yoked to my brain, ox-like

Questions and Answers

Is there a specific moment that inspired you to pursue poetry?

Reading Sylvia Plath’s Letters Home as a teenager. I didn’t know who Plath was until I found the book on my mother’s bookshelf. The excerpts of her poems among the letters gave me an urge to write my own poetry, an urge I successfully suppressed until I was twenty-eight and taking A. F. Moritz’s poetry class at the University of Toronto (late bloomer). After a few tries I wrote my first real poem about a disappointing experience with student activism, which later became a poem about a disappointing experience with group therapy. Realizing that poetry didn’t have to be purely confessional in nature, that I could fictionalize my own experience until it felt more “real,” inspired me to go further.

What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?

Anti-depressant Pantoum began when I heard Jim Johnstone read his poem, “The Chemical Life” from his collection of the same title. I’d been taking an anti-depressant for so long, I wondered why I’d never written about it myself. How could I not write about something that was such an integral part of my life?

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