When I had a mental illness
I just can’t beat it
(Quote from Manchester by the Sea)
In the unaccounted hours
I used to wake up awake.
One night I awoke with semen all over my legs
I dreamt that I was sexual and wished, and wished,
in the glue of that moment I was that man I dreamt of yesteryear.
I read of a woman raped by the Janjaweed
she could not bear marinas without being triggered
those boats with pointed sails to her were speared children
“lost boats” she said “all of them with eyes open like white flowering ponds”.
I should not read such things without injury,
Why mushroom clouds of IED’s are scarlet letters
and why Dean cut his cheeks open to feel the heat of blood,
the camouflage of an explosion is wet, and it cannot be wiped clean.
When I had a mental illness, it was the gift of delving too deep –
eyes of an anonymous para recounting his friend’s death
you carry a dead body no different if it is alive
a mother has to say goodbye to her son
just save the face so she can kiss it bye.
In those unaccounted weeks
I was unaware of the living amongst such phantoms
It was quiet as Hiroshima in my heart,
I was fire and ice with moon on my trident
these are all my devils and I love them all.
With five collections of poetry focusing on conflict Antony Owen is a well respected writer known for investigative poetry which took him to Hiroshima in 2015 to interview atomic bomb survivors. His subsequent collection, The Nagasaki Elder (V.Press) was shortlisted for a Ted Hughes Award in 2017. His sixth collection The Unknown Civilian is published by KFS.