Image Credit: MontyLov via Unsplash
*Content Warning: The book reviewed contains discussion of suicidal thoughts and self-harm.*
For the record, I will always promote books which discuss taboo subjects in a way that is meaningful and seeks to shed light on those subjects. Haunted Mind is one such book.
“i’m your//devourer / your chaos / your destruction / your goddess of doom / i devour hearts,”
the speaker says in Vanessa Maki’s poetry chapbook, which is a collection of poems that revolve around mental illness. This is a book that is perfect for the current season. It’s chock full of werewolves, zombies, and horror film references. In the poem, “restless in pieces,” the speaker says:
“i’m an/ undead zombie / my body is in tact but my heart is/ restless / in pieces / how do i
There’s a sense that what has been broken cannot be put back together. The speaker longs to be whole, healed, but is not. Although, she would like to be.
“can i use crazy glue to repair it? / maybe stick pins in it / to keep it/together / scrape away the decay / scrape away the scabs.”
It seems like a nearly impossible riddle. How does one begin to put themselves back together, and to find healing following a traumatic event?
“how can i remedy such a/ dilemma ? / or will the rest of me / follow my heart,” the speaker says.
Typically, when we hear this phrase, it’s in a positive light. Following one’s heart is a fluffy idiom meant to signify hope and following one’s dreams. But here, it’s flipped. The speaker’s heart is shattered, and she’s struggling.
A point in this book that I really like is in “a constant haunting,” where the poet likens trauma and the resulting depression with being a ghost, or having ghosts.
“I carry the ghosts with me/I carry the ghosts/ I carry,” she says, trailing off, almost like in a movie, the piece is fades out, leaving the reader standing in the dark.
Maki’s poems are darkly themed, and they mourn the loss of herself in a way that is both haunting and uniquely written, and I do recommend this book. Haunted Mind is available via the author’s website.