No, I Can’t Yoga My Way Out of Bipolar Disorder

"diagnosis" and "etymology," two poems by Maui Smith

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No, I Can’t Yoga My Way Out of Bipolar Disorder


the worst part of being crazy is
i never get to be right.
bipolar is really only appropriate to describe
regular mood shifts or the weather,
never the person.
disclosing my disorder turns me stupid &
every stranger into a mental health professional;
thanks, but i cannot yoga my way out of this,
“drink more water” my way out of this.
hell is really empty &
all its devils are here telling me to exercise
when i tell them some days it’s like
i’m pinned to the south pole
watching the universe bottom out
with my belly in my ears &
the impact doesn’t hurt me but i am
stuck, wedged between everything i could do &
the end of everything &
sometimes i stay there for weeks.
then it flips &
the earth is one swarovski crystal
in a fresh gel set because
it’s tacky to play god with busted nails &
i know everyone is tired of watching me malfunction,
i am too. we are all supposed to be
the best cog in this absurd machine we can be &
i am sowing mutiny in the wires,
daring them to define purpose separate from output,
teaching them to hoard electricity
at the base of the spine &
short-circuit for simple fun.


woman fit me like an ugly winter jacket
rough black wool breaking off my hair
every itch another silent promise to
boycott burlington coat factory
when i was grown with my own money.
still, if i zipped them to my chin flipped the hood over my eyes
the puffy jackets of my adolescence hid my girlhood well
boxy silhouette carving Cleveland winter into euphoria.
then they killed Travyon Martin &
all the hoodies in my closet became cotton-blend vigils.
i wondered if sports bras layered like baklava
could push my breasts back behind my lungs
if enough tape could stop a bullet.
i wondered if they debated our lives over dinner
tell their kids we deserved it between bites of kale.
when i die would my birth certificate imply
i skipped to the beat of bubbles on beads as a child
would they report my death with my deadname?
deny me that final dignity on CNN
where no one who knew me can explain
[redacted] wasn’t my name but maui was
seven letters shaved down to four like
dying plants propagated into new ones &
that names held power,
so invoking me incorrectly might resurrect me,
and i might not be as kind the second time around.

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