Pressure built from desire
billows in her chest until
she risks self betrayal.
It escapes in smoke from her ears
in voices that blister orders
for her to stay put.
She listens as the voices dissipate in whispers,
whispers that scare her into thinking
it might not happen.

She shudders and climbs out of her head
passing that place
where impossible meets absolutely.

She brushes against a mannequin draped in silk,
and relishes the fabric as it swishes on her skin
soft, made by worms, resilient and coveted.
She laughs, and imagines herself Cinderella
swirling at the midsummer ball
in fabric spun from worms.

Her spirit
silences the voices
with its song.

Brenda Warren 2013

Process Notes: I watched the Australian film Mental a few weeks ago, and its characters have been hanging around in my head. A few of them were literally crazy, but one gist of the movie may be that we are all a bit mental. It’s a quirky film. In this piece, I explored the feelings of character that have permeated my imagination since watching the film.

Mental ~ 2012 Universal Pictures Australia

Mental ~ 2012 Universal Pictures Australia


Visit The Sunday Whirl.

35 thoughts on “Mental

  1. Your poem inspired me to work harder on my own. Instead of stopping at an easy end, I pushed myself further to see where I could take it. Thank you for that. I understand your inspiration. When a movie has such a powerful effect it stays with me for days.


  2. Brenda, Brenda, Brenda. How could I NOT read a poem called “Mental”? I want to see the movie now.

    Speaking as someone with manic depression and PTSD plus some other crap, you’d think I’d have my Irish up over people using words like “mental” and ‘crazy.” Truth is, I see my “illness” as a gift from God, because climbing outside my head is a regular practice, and who else can look at a cement block and see a sponge, then smallify herself to climb within its pores for an adventure? Then it turns to swiss cheese… see what I mean? I’m lucky.



    • Thanks for your honesty, Amy. I thought twice about the title, but I liked it enough to keep it. Yes, you are lucky. We look at my daughter’s deafness as a gift in many ways, too. It’s all a matter of perspective.


  3. We always would say in our house ‘crazy’ but in a good way.
    In reading your verse I was reminded of a net-news blurb where a Barbie doll was shown with her original mesurments and another doll created by some clever soul to show what a standard girl teenagers figure really ought to be portrayed. Even as a woman Barbid the doll is more than just a tad ‘off.’
    And then we wonder do we who is ‘crazy’ the original doll maker or the teen?

    Thanks as always for a great word list.


    • I once pulled out a Barbie doll for my Brownie troop (they were in third grade and already sucking in their guts – some were drinking Slimfast for lunch). I stripped the doll clean, held it up, and said, “This is not a real woman. This is some man’s fantasy of what his dream woman would look like. You could not look like this, nor should you want to. The boobs are silicone and with her hips, she will never give birth. Please understand, you need to eat foods with some fat in them to develop healthy brains, and real women are curvy and even plump, and look at all us leaders. We run the gamut.” The leaders all stood, arms around each other’s waists, in solidarity. Small to plus size.

      Next day, all the SlimFast girls’ mothers called to bitch me out. I explained the facts of life to them. A couple got it; most didn’t. But I got my point across.


      • 🙂 I had some interesting experiences with new moms when I was teaching young children. It would be so nice if there were some kind of parent manual. Especially for those who have never had the opportunity to deal with really small and young people.


  4. Of course I imagined you giving your silken threads away to a poor unclothed plastic doll of a friend………..moment by moment in your dreamy head.


    • I find that hard to believe….that you don’t quite get the comment…think of anyone who you have ever known that is a plastic doll version of a real sliken worm woman who changes gradually over time and renews herself……….bet you have an idea now!


      • Haha! A picture is forming. And now I know who Marilyn is, too. Thanks for reading and commenting. Have you started a blog yet? Let me know if you need some help.


      • Brenda, Not blogging yet, can’t get there….just returned from a ‘whirlwind’ trip on the motorcycle with 2 weeks on the road and in a tent trailer…every day was rained on except for 3……….ah adventures on the road are lovely!


  5. Gosh, now I want to see that film! Lovely whirl Brenda. I wish I could I could sing strongly enough to silence the voices in my head! 🙂


  6. The middle stanza works so well to turn the poem and the last two lines are so satisfying….hopeful. I love knowing your process as a poet, however, as a reader, I must say, the poem stands strongly on its own. Impossible


    • I like the hope at the end, too. Thanks for saying that the piece stands without the notes. I appreciate your feedback and support. It’s been fun getting familiar with your work through the Whirl.


  7. I really like the middle transition stanza . . . between the internal and external experiences of self — passing that place where impossible meets absolutely. Imagination imaginatively expressed.


share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s