Repost Poem: One Good Reason To Stay (A Poem for Phyllis Hyman)

by pronounced "ahhh" like a sigh

I almost forgot that today was the anniversary of when Phyllis Hyman took her life. I know last year, her death was overshadowed by Michael Jackson’s tragic passing almost a week before. I remember being aware of Phyllis at an early age and I always heard the echoes of sadness in her music. Before I knew her story, I thought that she was merely singing about some man or the other, it wasn’t until I read about her struggles with bipolar and depression, that I saw myself reflected in her. I heard her songs not about romantic love but about her own life and wanting to convince herself to stay  upright and here. She lost her battle. It was just too much for her but so many others live and thrive and get treatment and you would never know it.

Fuck Stigma. If you need help, get help. Those who wish to shame you aren’t going to ever come to your rescue. Fuck them. Seek treatment.  Pity the ones not brave enough to seek help. Who only want to sit in judgment of those who do. Fuck them. Seek treatment. Talk about it. Fuck a stigma.

In solidarity,


One good reason to stay
A poem for Phyllis Hyman

They said you tried
squeezed laughter from stone
Whenever you could
Hurdled yourself out of bed and fog
Long enough to send your songs across the night
They said you were a fighter in these photographs you flash a black & white
Of doe eyed and regal crowned
No one can doubt your strength

They called you Pepper
Mistook your rage for something
Other than the pain it protected
They said it was the men that
left you small in king size
Empty of bed
Said it was the weight And the wait
The freedom that life denied you
The drugs providing synthetic sex
They said the loneliness ate you
When no one heard —
You were a half breath of ache
Before the first note
The hurt that lingered like last call after the final curtain
When it was just you and you

Aching to be rid of yourself
Begging sleeping backs
And closed doors for a good reason to stay
A reason to try
To push beyond the pain for one more day
Allow another bit of morning to stun
You into beauty
Maybe you wouldve remembered the
Caught the chord that impressed even you
Wrapped that ego around your shoulders
Rise into your six feet and 4 inch heels
Breathe air and fire and stone
Phyllis, you were an impossible quest for calm
an unattainable tomorrow
That press and push of a yesterday that
Bound you

And we your lost daughters study your song
Search for meaning between each and every line
Anything to put a purpose to the hollow that throbs with us
Phyllis, we have so many questions

Did you see God before you left?
Did she look like you?
All long limbed and full lipped
round faced and ethereal beauty
If you had would you have done it anyway?
refused your own reflection that last morning
Or would you have sighed into recognition
Exhaled a low, slow mournful blues
Into the heavens
Felt like this was where you needed to be

Was Lady there?
Did she welcome you as kindred
Or beg you to return
To tell your story to the new voices that would
Hold you as example
What would you say to Amy?
To Britney?
Was it you that saved Mary?
Can you save Lauryn?

We need a song, Phyllis
Something like you
A pretty stained glass held to catch the light
Something honest and real
We need a song, Phyllis
put a bit of beauty inside this shell we fling from pain to pain
Drenched in our own denial and hollow pillar
Each of us adding a lyric
Another reason to welcome morning
Despite the empty
Despite the lonely
The fatigue eating through our bones
We are all tired.
All feel on odd days that this heartbreak will be the last one
We need a song
A poem to carve and crawl under
Something to see ourselves in
Something beautiful
Something fragile and fire
Something like you, Phyllis
A good enough reason to stay

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