The poem I read at the Open Mic: “No Sunrise”

by , under depression, poetry, TSCPL, writing

A few nights ago, I attended the third annual Poetry Reading and Open Mic at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library. It’s always held sometime in April for National Poetry Month. (Did I ever tell you TSCPL was named 2016 Library of the Year by Library Journal? Yes, my public library really is that awesome!) The event ran a bit long, but it was great to hear a wide variety of voices and different kinds of poems. One older gentleman read a villanelle, and his reading style was so dramatic that I actually jumped once or twice, but it was just excellent. The featured readers were local writer Leah Sewell and Wichita-based poet Roy Beckemeyer, who both brought their A-game.

There were a few poems I considered reading, but I ultimately chose “No Sunrise.” It’s one of my “drowning” poems, and I thought about commenting before my reading that I’m not originally from Kansas. (It seems funny to me that I have so much ocean in my poems, from a youth not too far from water, yet I’ve ended up living in a land-locked state.) But I was too nervous to really say anything but “Hi.” I tried to glance out at the audience a little, but the second time, I slightly flubbed a line, so then I didn’t do it again until the end. I’d never read this one in public before, but I thought the time was right to put it in the spotlight.


No Sunrise

I want to be in the sea.
I feel closer to water
than to your family;
the ocean is more like home,
and the camper frightens me.
I should not be here,
I’ll never come here,
I didn’t know what to wear.

Supper was the hardest part.
You fed me and fed me
but you couldn’t see
me needing you.
I didn’t offer
to help your mother —
the thought was there,
but sound died in my mouth.

And I cried on the shore,
the edge of the world —
a girl thick in the mist
of an unsleeping sea,
weeping from my own soul,
bleeding from wounds
that are nowhere … but sore.
No sunrise here anymore.


This poem appears in my poetry collection entitled Happenings, Heartbeats, and Mental Breakdowns, published in 2015. It’s available in print through Amazon, and in ebook through the other major vendors as well. It’s reasonably-priced — the ebook is only 99 cents — and it’s a pretty good collection (she said modestly). Click here to find it at your preferred vendor. Thank you for reading!

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