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Published by Fire Agate Press, 2017-01-03 09:33:31






Chemotherapy for the Soul
©MMXVII Leilanie Stewart
All Rights Reserved
Published by Fowlpox Press
Design: Paris Paté
ISBN: 978-1-927593-54-7





1. Circle of Friends
2. Rose Tinted
3. A Minute of Wisdom
4. A Hundred Percent Undiluted
5. Be Afraid
6. Postgraduate
7. Cavia Porcellus
8. Garnet
9. Half Empty
10. Crevasse
11. Myasthenia Gravis
12. A Matter of Perspective
13. Narcissist on the dole
14. Resolution
15. Tent-pole
16. Blunt, not subtle
17. Parataxic Distortion
18. Cult Leader
19. Cult Member
20. Abstraction
21. Blue Light
22. Phoenix
23. One day you’ll get a novel out of this
24. The point of no return
25. Sit down, calm down
26. Chemotherapy for the soul
27. Greener Grass

Acknowledgements are due to Sarasvati, Tips for Writers, Nostrovia and The Sound
of Poetry Review for previously publishing some of the poems in this collection.

Circle of Friends

We drifted in and out of bars back then
But when I drifted across the ocean
And came back, things were different
The talk was still the same,
Though the laughter had changed-
I had changed
And all of you had grown stagnant,
Bitter in your old age, simply because
You’d had a lifetime filled with
I’ll do this, and
What if that-
None of which amounted to anything
What a shame
What a waste
A circle of friends
Whose hopes and dreams and morals
Had no way of escaping a circle
That never had a beginning
Or an end in the first place.

Rose Tinted

I composed this poem for you
in my head,
in another lifetime,
When we were hatchlings.
We saw the world then
through our rose tinted glasses.

But when we took them off,
the world was askew
We saw the citadel
for what it was
I held your hand
as the facade crumbled

The remnants of a world long lost
will fade behind that fake fortress

Together we’ll bury the pieces
in the dust
and wait for the half life to pass
But we’ll survive
because we’re strong
and most of all
because we’re smart

A Minute of Wisdom

You do not think me plated-gold
You do not heed the words I say
But I have walked on muddy paths
I have felt the rain run cold
When others saw the sun beat down
and looked between the shadows
There are people in this world
Who’d rather turn the other cheek
Though, like a sundial, I am set
in stone and I’ll be waiting
You do not think I really care
You do not see the truth right now
But you might change your mind someday
And if you do, I will come.

A Hundred Percent Undiluted

This despair

And this
Whole new level of pain
Who would’ve thought

Emotional pain
Could be so physical?

Then again,
The brain is a physical thing

This cut
Runs deeper
Than any mortal cut
The carcinogenic flow
Of mental violence
Left an acrid cloud
And healing
Will take a long time
But there is hope

Goes on
And the bones of the dead
Will be buried
Wait for the narcissus to grow
Then pick it by the waterside,
Throw the petals into the stream
One by one
Let the flow
Carry them away

Be Afraid

There is an invisible line in life
A threshold that when crossed
Can bring the consciousness
To a whole new level
It always comes back to the fear,
The men with shadowy faces,
And guns, and balaclavas
Waiting for the imbalance
In the ectenic force to tip the scales,
Stability to come crashing down
The threshold isn’t an age;
It isn’t thirty, though being older helps
It’s not a place, but if it was
It would surely be the bottom rung
On Maslow’s hierarchy
There are basic human needs
That come as instinct
And fear overrides them all


I got the answer
I was expecting
Not the answer
I was looking for

I told you the words
In a different order
You spliced them together
And built your own chains

There is no aftermath to be had
All of it has gone, listlessly,
Into that empty void
We once called a friendship

Cavia Porcellus

You sat in the corner
eating lettuce
You scurried away
when he came in the room
Yet you always did the work
he left behind
and he always took the credit for it

You remind me of
my Cavia Porcellus
the way you’re so submissive
You even convinced me
not to stand up to him
and I’m sorry that I listened

My Cavia Porcellus died
when he was four
It’s an unlucky number in Japan
and for all I know
Cavia Porcellus could be
on the menu there too

You’re on the menu for him,
Bottom of the food chain
with your cucumber and lettuce
A feast for fat, rich guys-
served up so easily
on a silver platter


All she ever was to him
was a cheap heart of synthetic garnet
hanging on a chain that broke
with hardly any force

She was his possession - a trinket
and the necklace an anchor
around her neck as proof
that he owned her once
when she bought his bullshit

But now he’s flailing,
grasping for control
He overplayed his hand…

The links on the chain
of his bargain-bin present
broke the links on the chain
that he’d trapped her with

And the ghost of her real heart
hardened inside the crust
of her inner child, long ago

Half Empty

And while
there is breath
in your lungs
and warm blood
in your veins
you keep on swimming

For a corpse
may have its last
as the plasma coagulates
in its concrete limbs

And you may say
it all stops, but surely,
life is better than that

The stream
will not carry this one
off the tower block
of existence


There are
a hundred
million, zillion droplets
of uncertainty, waiting,
to splatter you,
wanting their chance to fall

One by one
they drip,
like stalactites
forming a question mark
in the cave of hope

If you wait around
for the stalactites
and stalagmites to join
you will watch and witness
certain doom fuse
in the darkness

This is the best time
to go spelunking
taking your life in your hands
as you tackle every chasm
with all you have left;


is no badge of honour,
it’s a curtain of denial
shielding you from the truth-


Myasthenia Gravis

When I was younger
people used to ask me
why I didn’t smile much
and I’d tell them I had
myasthenia gravis
rather than admit
that I had one too many
worries on my brow,
burdening me, forming
the skin on my forehead
into wrinkles, pushing
the muscles of my cheeks
into loose hanging jowls
that slowly dripped over
my chin, making me
into the lapdog for the
people who put the frown
on my face, in the first

A Matter of Perspective

I finally had my astigmatism fixed;
not the one in my eyes,
but the one on my soul;
the one through which I saw
all the people in my life whirl by
in a kaleidoscope
Funny then, that amidst the gale
of relationships I thought I had
got straight, in my head,
I was missing the point
and all the colours were blurred
They blended into a muddy mix,
the red platelets breaking
into a stream of yellow plasma
staining everything around me

Narcissist on the dole

Incapable of love
Incapable of hate
all he knows
is how to suck from people
their life essence
which fuels a massive ego
driving him into old age

Narcissist causes hurt
to anyone who bruises
the polished image he has
built of himself,
all part
of his game of pain

He beats his wife
mentally tortures his kids
abuses strangers
whenever he can get away with it
cross dresses or strips naked-
whichever suits the moment

All these things
are for attention, any way he can get it
or to inflate any punctures
in his carefully calculated self-esteem

If the attention from others is cut off,
like the narcissist flower,
he withers and fades away
looking for nourishment elsewhere

The fortress
has been carefully constructed,
but deep beyond
those seemingly impenetrable walls
lies a coward

Incapable of love,
incapable of hate,
it’s a shadowy existence
where secretly he dwells
in jealousy of others


Five AM
til half six

This is not the witching hour-
there’s nothing mysterious,
so I can’t cry insomnia

Instead, I sit here
cross-legged on my imaginary sofa
looking at my hands

My hands should hold money,
but there’s none

I have a pen
A pen is my army
Marching forth with my words

That’ll bring a revolution,
or at least a resolution
for the new year.

Allow me these small hours
to be pedantic,
since, between cups of tea,
there’s nowt else to do

to fill the void.


This is not the day when I realized
my whole past was a scam,
a big fraud played out like a game
and I was the pawn on the board
and yes, I know the chess analogy
has been done to the death,
even by me,
but allow me this small liberty
to narrate the lyrics
of my haywire mind

Everybody knows
when you look at a tent
that it’s held up
by a tent-pole at the centre,
so it’s counter-intuitive
to apply this logic to your own life-
if we were to imagine
having the tent-pole
of our own family life
ripped out, it’s unimaginable
what damage this would do
to our minds

Let me ask you this
in the hope you’ll answer honestly-
how many of you live in tents
that float on the wind;
ghostly apparitions
suspended by nothing more
than a fabrication
from a nightmare, designed
to help your inner child


Blunt, not subtle

I didn’t want to walk alone
I wanted you by my side
and you as well,
but at some point
when I awoke from my trance
I had to accept
that I was the sole survivor
the rest of you were victims
and though it has been a hard march
at least I do it to my own rhythm
at last

Parataxic Distortion

Some people project their issues
onto a target, a victim,
a poor bugger who bears the brunt
of emotional abuse
that makes the sender feel better
and recipient feel worthless
inferior, beaten down, self-loathing…
they themselves have issues
in which case they’ll get off on the pain
and the mind games to play in return

To break free of control
is one thing
but to walk away unscathed
is another
without perpetuating
the cycle of abuse,

The soul must be cleansed,
broken free
of negative thought restrictions,

It is
a harder,
lonelier path

and though it ain’t an easy path,
you’ll feel better for it

Cult Leader

Sits at a keyboard
pushing buttons
reading from a screen

Tell her she’s mental
Tell him he’s a failure
But I need my narcissistic supply…

Cult Member

Here is a checklist, so answer yes or answer no:

Are you told what to think?
Are you shouted at regularly?
Are you threatened with violence?
Are you afraid to stand up for yourself?
Do you flinch at raised voices?
Do you often feel guilty for ‘mistakes’?

This was a small self-test.
How did you do?

If you answered yes to all of the above,
then you have been programmed like a computer,
you are being controlled

To break away, you must shut down.
Switch off at the socket.
Reboot your software.
Get an upgrade.

You’ll feel worse in the short term
while you’re under repair

But in the long term,
you’ll run smoother.


The time of the leaves is over
the leaves are falling
off their tree
they fall alone
sweeping a path
among the other withering souls
spiraling to their demise

A few brave ones
dare to touch each other
knowing it is their autumn
knowing that while
on the surface they care
ultimately it is
a lonely journey

Blue Light

In a corner of the room
there shines a blue light
the rest of the room
is lit by phosphorescence
yet this light still shines
the room is windowless
so it isn’t apparent
where the blue light comes from
and the room
is not conducive
to a natural brightness
the blue light is serene,
but there is no such
otherworldly realm
in this boxed existence
the blue light lingers
never fading
shining down
from a solitary corner


I dropped off the face of the planet,
for a while
I needed the time for a little
spiritual spring cleaning
The end of 2012
was the start of a new beginning,
when the old world ended,
and the new was reborn
out of the ashes
I’m ready once again
to face reality
MOT’d and raring to go
my gears will run much smoother
this time
now that I’ve come
through the darkness of the tunnel
into the light

One day you’ll get a novel out of this

That’s what she said
Too right, I thought
but I didn’t tell her that
as she was already floating
on the air sacs of her own hubris
and even if I had punctured them
she would’ve defied physics
gliding on by

There’s too much junk besides
to sift through, and
the mismatched parts are better
stitched together into free verse
those puns and anecdotes
that linger unjournaled
in the ether between the worlds
of what is right
and what is happy

I chose right
and I can tell you now
it’s a rough old lonely track

The point of no return

How do you know
when you’ve crossed the point
of no return, if the road sign
keeps moving
and the definition
keeps changing?

This is a conundrum
with which I am faced
now that I have shed
my winter coat
moving on naked
into the spring

Will it be better now?
Will I jump at every bang?
Recoil at every harsh tone?

Oil should never be poured
down the sink-
it coagulates
it clogs up the arteries
of the sink

Do you want to do that
to your sink?

Sit down, Calm down

Sit down
on a park bench
and get a thorn stuck
in your ass from the tree behind

Plonk your bum down
in a cynical mood
and watch that pigeon
come towards you

Catch it. Kill it.
Pluck it. Eat it.
Throw it back to the rats
Same as they did to you

and a defeatist attitude
will make sure you’re the crab
who stays at the bottom of the pot

Chemotherapy for the soul

He has cancer
he is cancer
his words are cancer

The fact that he has cancer
only makes his epithet
more ironic

The things he says
are caustic

I tried one last time
to stem the carcinogenic flow
but it was futile

He always has to have
the last malignant laugh

He was the tumour
of my life
the melanoma
on my soul
that was cut off

Greener Grass

the heart
and the mind
are in constant conflict
you can never walk away

inside perspective
and outside knowledge
are two different things
and now here I stand-

Two legs
On this side
Of the barbed wire
Where it hurts, far less,

Trust me.

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