2 Postictal State Poems: “Annual” & “Emancipation”


I sit
on the fuzzy pink-robed edge,
first album songs play
somewhere, creep their
way into the foreground

An art teacher
scolded my hastily drawn
cacti once, but never my
cheat projects

                 I traced
so many others’
with perfection
& now this
chalkline haunts

I’m choking
on cacti
as we speak
     when I wake
up sweating
with Jackson Pollock
paintings dancing
in my vision
     I’m down to
one epileptic seizure
a year & I’m
sure to make it count

The starburst target
on the back of my skull
is more worrisome
than the lack of
human bodies
congregating at
my bedside

When your core is
a lightning rod,
you’re a danger
     to others

These are aura days,
where color surrounds
everything & you’ll
never find
words or brush strokes
to convey a proper meaning
to anything

Did the apostle Paul
dream during his
unconscious conversion?
Have I been asleep
since that first episode,
on my knees during
a childhood Mass,
a convulsing
holy terror planting
hysterical seeds into
my schoolmates’ brains?

I dreamed of water then,
being swept up in waves,
finally able to breathe
beneath them

The longer I stare, the more
these edges
blur & blend

     Yesterday will be today’s
     back then someday

I’ll remember this sky
with the taste of dust
in my mouth,
but the scent
of saltwater will
soothe the arid lungs

This cacti memory
will never die
     It’s embedded
itself into my arms
as they perform
for the shaking wind


to be free—seizure free, pain free—
they say,      they dream
but one is never free from a monster
that threatens from the shadows

      the poet is not to be pitied,
      even the ill one, the bedridden
      beauty penning illegibly

pay her every time she says
“they’re just poems” & it will
be all she’s ever made from them

none of this means anything
when you’re found on a hardwood
floor with bloodied kneecaps,
muttering prophecies & laughing
about a battered brain,   when
the face filled with concern
floating above you
looks caul-covered & ethereal

pills never broke the chains,
every remedy was a downward spiral,
& every new diagnosis was an
accusation to live up to

      if you don’t do what they think
      you’re going to do, you will have

to be free is to be hidden, to dance
around a fire fueled by old notebooks
as a ghost,        destruction—
the finality of it, the no hope
for survival, the unplugging
of the body machine—
the end, the end, the end

     the only thing worth praying for

Published by Jennifer Patino


24 thoughts on “2 Postictal State Poems: “Annual” & “Emancipation”

  1. Breathtaking, both of these. I love “every new diagnosis was an / accusation to live up to”… You hit it so perfectly every time.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “Jackson Pollock/ paintings dancing/ in my vision” and the interplay of water and cacti… 🤌

    The shrug at any productivity through the hopelessness, and always that nod to reality being a fluid thing that we may be looking at from the wrong side, repeatedly.

    “To be free is to be hidden”

    Such important reporting from places others fear to tread ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  3. These are dark and powerful poems Jennifer. The seizure imagery is trippy. I’m trying to imagine what it would be like, but I know I can never truly understand until I experience it myself. The metaphor of the core as a lightning rod, and the line that Sun already mentioned particularly stood out to me. Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

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