depression defined

by Alise Leslie

when sadness is no longer an emotion

when it becomes a residence

an empty abode, with no windows

filled with the smoke of anxiety

and the ashes of what used to be comfort are spread about

with no mythical birds in sight

no Lazarus resurgence of normal

my mind’s eye projects onto empty walls playing back “could-have-beens” in high definition

mistakes are played by giants

hitting every cue.

moving pictures of stagnation.

establishing shots of a ghost town

backdrops of statues constructed from stolen moments and irony.

those moments where heaviness is your only evidence of existence

where the only thing to grab onto are slippery slopes of your magnanimous mind

with delusions the opposite of that grandeur shit


pardon my French but “je ne suis pas heureux”

and no one you care about understands that it means “I. am. not. happy.”

where a rainbow at the end of your storm seems too far fetched

because how dare i imagine that it will end…

no pots of gold

nothing to pay off this debt of guilt

compounding disinterest in positivity

because curling into a ball is easier than smiles and platitudes

easier than stepping outside.

easier than changing.

sadness is what happens when you are too tired to rage against the machine.

and you realize the machine is you.

and you don’t believe that the grand mechanic in the sky can fix it.

you’ve been running on fumes so long that anything else feels preposterous

when half tanks feel like luxury

when half empty is a goal

you’re living a half life,

and having a life is not a figure of speech, but a daily struggle

sadness is a volume of unfinished poems in dead languages….

where you chant “e pluribus unum” in unison with your problems

molehills conspiring with mountains

sparks conspiring with lightning bolts

May showers conspiring with Katrinas.

feelings never conspiring with common sense.

words that used to mean something in some long forgotten time

get lost in the ether of hardship.

stanzas are scattered in the white noise of forgetfulness

you are praying that your verses can, for once, cause a commotion

that emotion, for once, can lose to logic.

so that happy can join your vernacular and occasionally finish the metaphor of a good day.

Alise "Naturally Alise" Leslie is a poet, blogger, avid vinyl collector, and mental health advocate. She writes at the blog, "In My Mental Mind: a black girl's journey through mental illness" (, focusing on mental health issues, particularly for women and men in the POC community, through personal stories, poetry, and music.