Migraine and Poetry

It used to be that I equated poetry with a migraine; in my mind poetry was self-indulgent, something that is too abstract or too self-important. While I believe this holds true in a lot of poetry, I’ve since come to find a few poets that I enjoy reading, and I’ve even begun to play with the form myself. This is a poem I wrote last year, but revised today when I realized that ultimately I’ve been associating this fruit with my migraines, something I’ve suffered from since childhood.

Sharing it here is a bit of a risk, but I trust you all to be gentle with me! This poem is in the form of a pantoum, in which the second and fourth lines of each stanza are repeated as the first and third lines of the next.

Tiny scarlet capsules, self-contained
in little chambers, apart.
I pick until my fingers are stained,
the ruby red juices start.

In little chambers apart,
everything is in its place.
The ruby-red juices start,
my mind begins to race.

Everything in its place
-but something’s still askew.
My mind begins to race,
it must be straightened too.

But something is askew,
my shoulders start to sag.
They must be straightened too,
I wave my white flag.

My shoulders start to sag,
everything must be neat.
I wave my white flag,
my blood picks up the heat.

Everything must be neat-
scratchy thoughts are in my head.
My blood picks up the heat,
my skull is raw, rough, red.

Scratchy thoughts run through my head
I pick, my fingers are stained.
My hands are raw, rough, red,
tiny scarlet capsules, self-contained.

Image thanks to Tafari on flickr