“Between Love and Madness” by Deborah L. Staunton

2021 Pushcart Prize Nominee

The buzz of my cell phone pulses through my blood,
its vibration a hot coil in my head.
It travels down my neck, shoulders, arms,
settles in my chest,
filling my lungs with a pneumonia of dread.
I silently beg the gods of Motherhood
to let this one be minor.
With each event my own mental health falters
and threatens to join my daughter in this dangerous dance.
I know the steps by heart,
lessons learned at a tender age by my father’s side.
the music of mental illness is the song of my life,
genetics the cruel composer,
chance the foolish gambler.
I was the lucky one.
I escaped its prison,
yet I remain in its grip,
between my father and my daughter.




Deborah L. Staunton has appeared in Pretty Owl Poetry, Six Hens, The Remembered Arts Journal, Literary Mama, Sheepshead Review, The MacGuffin, and was featured in HBO’s Inspiration Room exhibit in New York City. Her collection of poetry and prose, Untethered, is currently under consideration for publication.

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