Phantom Delights, Tardive Dyskinesia, EPSE, For Broken People Who Break People, and New Beginnings – Poetry

By Ogundare Tope

Writer’s Statement: I work in a psychiatric hospital and see a lot of patients with seizure disorders. Many of my patients suffer from side effects of the medications used to treat them – it is kind of bittersweet. The first three poems were written in the clinic after a hectic work day, reflecting on the day and the people I had met. Separately, I have always been fascinated with brokenness and the process of healing – how being broken changes us and defines us; how most of the hurts we give are because we have broken edges, often handled thoughtlessly by the people we interact with. Some cut others with their jagged edges, and hurt them. Others rise above pain to become changed and better because of their experiences.

Phantom delights

Phantom delights

Tease my taste
Buds with incorporeal

Delicacies. This apparition
Here now and then

Gone; this illusion
Of pleasure;

Fictitious images
Tortuous. Torturous

Ghost of a disease-
Gustatory hallucinations

Seizural complexes
Complex seizures –

Partial. Without


Tardive Dyskinesia

I. Chorea

Serpentine tongue
Darting about
Face contorted
In a permanent grimace
Of shame.

II. Athetosis

Slow rhythm of
Damaged Substantia
Nigra singing a dirge
For fallen neurons.

III. Ataxia

I have taken to belly
Dancing, the unwilling belle
Rocking to your fantasy.

This is hell.



I. Twisted neck
Bulging veins
Eyes forward
Head backwards

II. The doctors said
They would make
Me better, who knew
That a twisted neck was
The cure for insanity!

III. Faulty wiring
Neurons firing
Tongue twisting
Damaged circuits

IV. Factory reset.


For broken men who break people

I am broken pottery
Pieces put together
With serrated edges
Do not blame me if
You cut yourself while
Handling me – I know
No other way
I am that piece of metal
Dumped on the dumpster
Rusty and runty
Weather beaten and
Good for nothing really
I am a relic of a distant
Love affair burning bright
Like fireworks on the
Fourth of July
I am the reminder of bad
Sex and the sentimental
Attachment of the morning
After pleasantries: I am
The “what are we?” rhetoric
The final attempt at salvaging
Pieces of spilt dignity; the
Result of cowardice. I am
The proof of manhood of
A man with shriveled ego
Whose worth is measured
By halfhearted thrusts while
His heart is miles away in bed
With another; the proof that
Men are ugly behind the
Delicately carved ivory masks
Of valor and chivalry
I am the grunt and faux
Climax on sheets soaked
With deception, many times
Over, the happy tears
Of disengagement, and
Freedom to breathe again
I was a broken man long
Before I knew you; long
Before I learnt to wear a
Coat of paint; long
Before I knew to put myself
In a Styrofoam case
Before I learnt to put a label
“handle with care”
On my seal;
Before you found me
Before you held me
Before I cut your
Heart, and watched you
Bleed out on the terrace;
Long before I knew
That broken men do not
Mend hearts, that they
do not love. No, broken
Men break people but
I learnt it a little
Too late.


New Beginnings

There is something about broken
Hearts that makes them beautiful
They have learnt comfort through
Pain. They have their tears crystallized
In hearts of gold.

There is a beauty to pain that only
Broken hearts can see, so much
Beauty in the scars that line the heart.’

There is a beauty to a soul rent
And patched like
A quilt threaded together with
Sorrow and tears that
Makes it perfect
For the cold night.

There is a glitter to tears
That attracts the Sun
And makes it bend from the sky
To shower it with golden
Kisses whispering hope
In quanta of energy.

There is a sweetness to sorrow
That lingers on the palate
Long after the bitterness is past
There is a peace only a troubled sea
Can know. A melody to the calm
That exceeds the war songs
Of the tempest.

Sometimes ugly scars tell
Beautiful stories, tell
Tales of survival, tell
Of the sound the soul
Makes as it unfurls in
Despair, tell
Of the songs sung
By dying tissues, tell
Of healing by fibrosis, tell

Of new beginnings.

Ogundare Tope is a Nigerian poet, short story writer, and shrink. He loves writing, listening to music and reading fiction. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Kalahari Review, Pilcrow and Dagger, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, The Naked Convos, DASH, Intima and in two poetry anthologies. Writing for him is cathartic. He can be found on Twitter or on his website.


%d bloggers like this: