Anna Quon

Sometimes Darkness Grips Me

Sometimes darkness grips me

By the hair and flings me into

Itself, like a stone

Or eats me alive

Like a prehistoric fish

With jaws as massive as a

Garbage truck

It whittles me down to nothing

But a pencil stub

And uses me to draw

Terrible pictures

On the walls

Of my imagination

Darkness covers me with its claws

And sucks the breath from me

Like a cigarette

What’s left is dense

As a neutron star

Unwieldy as sorrow.


I’m angry

I’m loud

I’m hyper

I’m manic

I’m obnoxious, troublesome, dangerous,


I’m tired now

I’m hurting

So many injuries don’t pierce the skin

But accumulate

Like dust in our corners

Those awkward places

In TQ, there are no corners

The walls curve to meet the floor

I slide down then like paint

and every pain richochets like

a pin ball

I’m human

I remind myself

No matter how battered my brain

Becomes, how ragged

I cup it in my hands,

Like a grasshopper

Long legs


    Ready to leap.


There are scars

from when I cut myself.

Not deep — fine, 

like cracks

on the screen of my cell phone.

I know the hairdresser sees them

and has been trained not to ask

I prefer it that way, of course

but I will tell you:

they mean I hurt once

and tried to hurt less.

I failed at the time,

but now they are surface only.

A kind nurse tried 

to salve them away, and left

a fine tracery of cracks 

not filled with gold

but new skin.

The mind wants destruction,

glorification, illumination

but the body accepts 

itself with a gentle

infilling, making hills 

from furrows, 

a wave

under skin

always cresting.


I like my madness

it keeps me sane

when the world walks backwards 

off a cliff

while taking a selfie

I like it when

I tell people I’m Mad

and you can see they don’t know

 what to say, and are 

a little afraid

Not because I am 

in favour of promoting fear 

especially fear of madness, but because 

I like it when people don’t 

know what to say

Not that it makes them 

listen any better. 

In fact I can

see them closing like oysters 

all around me.


it’s because

then I can say 

whatever I want

     as they shut up 

    and shut down

    and back away –

    though I wave and shout–

over that same cliff,

the one 

at the edge

of what it means 

to be


Missing Meds 2







That’s how it’s supposed to go.

Instead I tumble out of bed

and have two cups of coffee

(one for each eye),

check my phone

then eat and shower and leave

for the coffee shop

to write poems.

So often, I forget the tiny 

flying saucer of aripiprazole

that is meant to float

across my twilit moodscape, 

hover over each wandering thought

in its drunken rowboat

abducting, then beaming,it

back to me– the cleaner, brighter,

sober second

version of itself.

And then at night,

when I am

fallen from the perch of day

still dressed into my unmade bed,

I often wonder if I took

a sertraline- the little capsule

that’s half yellow and half white (like me)

which should contain me,

calmly bobbing in the sea of dreams

to be rescued in the morning

by kindly alien hands

When am I not in transit

caught in the terrifying safety 

of well-meaning pharmacy?

Only when I am errant,

absent, missing from my meds–

and only then by accident,

or laziness. 

Because I also fear 

what lies outside

the electric fence–

the grassy freedom,

where the endless winds

of madness blow.

“Sometimes darkness grips me” describes my experience of depression and psychosis, and was first published in my self-published chapbook, Mental Illness Poems, 2011, as was “Human”, which is set in TQ— the therapeutic quiet room of the local psych hospital, a place where it is most difficult to preserve any shred of human dignity, something it has always been important to me to try to hang on to. “throat” was published in my chapbook Body Parts released in 2021 by Gaspereau Press. It describes the scars from self harm, which ended up being a sign of the body’s power to heal itself, and with time, the mind. “Missing Meds” from a memoir in progress,  describes my mixed feelings about the psych drugs I take. My final poem “Cliff”was published by on the website and describes my relationship with my madness and how “normals” perceive me. 

These poems illustrate an evolution in my experience of, and attitude toward, Madness, which I now consider to be a positive facet of my identity. While my view of psychiatry is mostly negative, I have met some very caring individuals, both health care professionals and those who are considered patients, clients or whatever other name the system uses for us. My relationships with these individuals  have often been helpful and healing along my journey.  

I have long taken psych meds, which have helped cope with the anguish and suffering that  my mind has gifted me with. I am still thinking about my relationship to these drugs. As I age, I am inclined to feel that a gentle weaning from them might be best for my mental and physical well-being. 

Madness is part of me but also something that I find myself needing to come to terms with again and again, to sit beside and talk to and sometimes negotiate with. I don’t take it or my mental well-being for granted, but I also don’t know what lies on the road ahead for my Madness and me.  If you are a fellow traveller, go in peace and safety, and if you can light the way for others like us, I thank you!

Poet and novelist Anna Quon likes to create paintings and short animated films of her original poetry at home is Kjipuktuk (Halifax), Canada. Middle-aged, mixed race and Mad, Anna is also a Baha’i, a writing workshop facilitator, and a current board member of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia. Self-employed, Anna has worked in the not-for-profit sector for more than two decades, except for several years as a freelance writer. Her chapbook, Body Parts was published last year by Gaspereau Press and her latest novel Where the Silver River Ends will released by Invisible Publishing on March 1, 2022.

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