Poetry: Two Songs Against Depression by Jacob Boyd

Jacob Boyd writes a sharp, semi-ekphrastic poem that addresses love alongside mental health struggle, sandwiched between the present and a memory. With the rhythm of song, this poem in couplets turns lyrics and idioms inside out and into surprising glimpses of delight, despite.

Two Songs Against Depression

The problem with these wood burn silhouettes
strutting through sunset side by side, arm in arm,

is there’s a brick in your chest that pins you
in bed while I go to the lake alone with the dogs

again. If I should ever bring you inside my life—
sings Stevie Wonder, lockstep with his clavinet

and Moog—I’ll be happier than the morning sun.
I don’t want any noise right now, you said

last night, but there was something quiet
in my head that I’d heard in the car, something

reminding me of when we’d driven on a whim
into the Superstitions, set a tent below the full moon,

and lay there suffering to the sound of our breath.
The air had been too still. The moon too bright.

But for the roadrunner and diminished lake,
the place was a moonscape and a crater

opened inside us calling for beer. We struck camp.
I get so thirsty and restless I miss giving up

sometimes. We just turn on the bedside fan.
You say you can’t have noise right now and I play

Brahms’ quintet for strings and clarinet—
a minor sound for griefs that won’t sleep.

Grief follows grief like fiddle and reeds.
Sublunary love, when the last movement ends, you manage:

“That horn player was jamming,” and I am
for a moment over the moon.

Jacob Boyd

Jacob Boyd is from Lansing, Michigan. He teaches at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. More of his work can be found in American Journal of Poetry, Cutleaf, Great Lakes Review, Poetry Daily, RHINO, and elsewhere.

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