By Zekria Ibrahimi
Key Themes: poetry, schizophrenia, love, loneliness
This poetry is far inferior to that of Keats, Shelley or Baudelaire.
It is about the reaction of a very ordinary, very lonely man to love.
What is love? Something difficult, something unattainable, something that shines in the distance and never can be reached. I look at love, but I cannot obtain it.
From the darkness that is my mental illness, I do not see love as it should be; I experience only the phantom of it.
Love is no better than a tormenting ghost for me.
I hear my sick bitter heart beat with a cruel pulse inside my damaged ears, and the rhythm is an incurably defective boom boom, hum hum, and I mourn…
So, in my prison, in my hell, I have talked to myself about love- and this small insubstantial book is the result….
About the Author
Zekria Ibrahimi (born in 1959) is defined by his schizophrenia. It first hit him long ago, in his late teens. He is fifty one years old now, grey and frail, almost a pensioner, with all the aches and injuries of age, and he does not always want to remember how, as an adolescent in the late 1970’s, he suddenly became afraid of everything surrounding him, and, worst of all, of himself. He would run around the countryside and knock at the doors of strangers because he feared the apocalypse was pursuing him … He would pick up rubbish outside in alleys and streets and hoard it in his not very palatial lodgings … He was always wandering away from home, searching for … what would never be found again … the straight route, the level way … He was a tramp, freezing during the nights in public toilets where he had various unsavoury insects as company on the cold concrete…
There were years of pain when his schizophrenia became almost his only companion- albeit a sadistic one, punishing him even as he hugged it. Perhaps, to echo both R. D. Laing and Emily Dickinson, it is the entire globe, it is general society, that is truly insane. Schizophrenics simply burrow all too deeply under the surface. They reach the very core of the savage reality in us all. Most varnish over the anarchic truth within through the superficial sham paraded as ‘civilization’. Schizophrenics prefer to be uncomfortably honest barbarians.
Eventually, after much psychotic shouting on Hammersmith Broadway, the hapless Zekria was confined at the Charing Cross unit in the West London Mental Health Trust. Following the unsafe unstable freedom of his schizophrenia, came the restrictions of Section 3. He would not have survived without the multi- racial compassion of the individual doctors and nurses in Charing Cross. Yet the overall SYSTEM remains an ogre of rules and restraints, and the INSTITUTION of psychiatry can be as cold and vicious as in the days of lobotomy and insulin shock.
Now he is elderly, but still he muses about being locked up, drugged up, about how, with schizophrenia, the treatment can be worse than the disease…
LOVE IS … WEIRD
Love is- it is a sigh, a shriek,
It is this limb, it is that lust,
It is to be proud, to be weak,
It seems like gold, it proves like dust.
The young may boast that love has zest,
The old dismiss it with a yawn,
It can lie in a flaunted breast,
It may make the heart look reborn,
But then identifies with death;
Its touch renders men stiff and cold.
It often is the dragon’s breath,
With huge flames being uncontrolled.
It is like some cruel, scummy snake,
With slime wherever it may go,
Yet at times appears, for faith’s sake,
To coo and possess a dove’s glow.
Love is like being some small grape
Crushed to pulp by a stern wine press,
And never to want an escape,
Both a sweet trap, and brutal mess.
It is to brag, it is to brood,
It chews up a sad, forlorn face,
It is to be clothed, to be nude,
It consumes a soul in disgrace.
It is like a knife thrust through flesh,
It is a wound that has turned stale,
While soon it can show itself fresh
As a flower in a fairy tale.
It is the maiden in the tower,
It is the prostitute who pants,
It is just sordid junk, so sour-
Next, hear it purr into romance!
AND WHAT IS LOVE?
‘And what is love?’ the wind had once asked me.
It is like being forced to loose an eye-
It is a wrenching, bloody misery-
It is the reason why the fools will die.
‘And what is love?’ the wind questioned again.
It is the hope for what you cannot own-
It is to cage your ecstasy in pain,
And, after suffering, still be alone.
‘And what is love?’ the puzzled wind implored.
It is to want an insubstantial thing
Without the semblance of a just reward-
It is the gamble from which mad debts spring.
‘And what is love?’ the sad wind carried on.
It is a way to waste too many years,
And know that youth and innocence are gone
Above a grimy mess of dread and tears…