Two Poems by Forrest Hamer

Forrest Hamer


It would be unfortunate if the idea of multiple selves
obscured the fact the self is still
responsible for the terror it makes in the mind.

It would be a mistake if the multiple meanings
of words like torture disguised the fact
we are torturers, with lessened concern about it.

It would be tragic if the loss of multiple relationships
to the unconscious
obviated the possibility
of minding a more responsible life.
I say this as someone who minds
what insanity means, not what we are coming to think.

Imagination means so much;
so much depends on what’s under.


* * *



To make it back home across town,
we had to learn to walk
only through black neighborhoods.
Think about this as the map
of a mind

laying out spaces
that are familiar and safe
as well as the places where, if it is dark, someone in the distance
crosses to the other side of the street,
just in case.

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010
Tribute to Mental Health Professionals


Forrest Hamer: “I wrote my first poem at the age of ten during what was then Negro History Week. Poetry would become one important way of making sense of my outer and inner worlds, and I would later realize that puzzling matters of racial injustice also undergirded my becoming interested in psychoanalysis. While I have often felt that my lives as a poet and a psychotherapist were at odds with each other in terms of attention and effort, I now accept that I live just one life in two very meaningful ways.”

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