Off the Shelf
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The Madness

There is a writhing feeling deep within me
below the surface but always present.
With the passing years it creeps up silently
searching for release.

It comes from a realization of truth
a harsh reality of the world,
of the violence, the despair,
the loss of freedom,
the lack of peace,
perpetuating disease of body and mind.
This knowledge is dangerous fuel,
a madness that tests me…

It burns as it carves a path
From the depth of my chest
and it lives in me, draining me,
feeding off my selfishness

It will make its way with time
to every dark corner of my body,
suffocating me from the inside,
Rising slowly
Clouding my mind.
Is this reality?
Or am I drifting into delusions,
self-righteous pretenses,
of right and wrong?
Of pain and suffering?
Do I have a choice in this?
In this anger
that consumes me?

It boils, testing the confines of my skin
Itching to spill out of every pore
Threatening the strength of my skull
As I try to keep it in,
Keep it in…
They say: Keep it in!

What would happen if I let it out?
Let it spill out over my body,
Drench every aspect of my life,
Cover all things with its contagious
frightening energy?

It is an unresolved frustration
That makes a mess of my privileged world.
How do I clean it up when all I want
is to resign–
to its power over me and
let the hidden world decay
while I give myself permission
to wallow in helplessness.

There is nothing to expect but a slow decline–
a slow death of routine and ignorance,
drowning in a vat of the world’s misfortune
Giving in to a strong pull of apathy.

But what good does it do to give in to the mire
that has sucked us in,
that has drained us dry?
To feel so overwhelmed
that our voices are silent?
Have the storms of sorrow drenched our lives yet?
Has the ferocity of the truth burned us yet?

We live unscathed by the pain
and only complain of what we think we see,
of the feelings we do not really want to feel,
and ignore the persistent discomfort of our safe sheltered lives.

In my restless mind I know,
that I can no longer hide.
The burning will never stop,
The truth is an angry parasite
It will not be set aside–
nor will it go quietly away
as I pray away my fears
and hope for someone else to take the reigns.
Someone else to fight,
to soothe the pains of injustice
to help me bottle away my grief
when I feel so out of control.

It will persist,
whether I pay attention to it or not,
and in the depths of my soul I know,
that if they–
the noise makers, the path layers
the peaceful revolutionaries–
did not give in to the madness,
neither can I.

Saba Malik Saba Malik (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Albany Medical College

Saba is a medical student at Albany Medical College in New York, class of 2018. Her passions include health and human rights, public health, marginalized populations, systems of oppression, mental health and integrative medicine. She spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about philosophy, purposeful living, spirituality, and wellness. She is more than open to hearing and connecting with other students and individual who share similar interests!