“What Gets Us Out of Bed in the Morning” by Rhonda Ganz

Rhonda Ganz


I met a man Thursday whose brain once kept moving at high speed after his skull had come to an abrupt stop. When we met, he was pushing a shopping cart with empty soda cans and wine bottles, which he figured would get him six bucks at the depot. Seventy years old, he’d slipped on the ice three times already that morning because people on his route hadn’t cleared their sidewalks. He couldn’t decide between blueberry or cherry danish at Sally Café so I bought both, and we stepped into rare winter sunshine as he told the story of how he’d come to be where he was. When he got to the part about being in a coma for six weeks in Atlanta, a Southern drawl introduced itself. After the coma, he spent another 540 days in hospital. They were using him for drug experiments by then, wanted to dissect him for research. His sister, a lawyer in the fancy part of town, finally got him out of there and sued the state of Georgia for 5.6 million dollars. A cheque will be ready in February he said, signed by Obama before he leaves office; a cheque the new guy can’t take away from me. That’s great I said, February’s not very far away. Just around the corner, he said back. It’s just around the corner.

salt water aquarium 
press against the glass

from Rattle #56, Summer 2017
Tribute to Poets with Mental Illness

[download audio]


Rhonda Ganz: “When asked to identify my illness, I have trained myself to answer only with my name, rank, and prescription number. When I write about depression, obsession, compulsion or other mental health issues, I challenge myself to do it without using those words. Sometimes I say to people that poetry saved my life. Unless they’re a poet, they don’t know how to respond, but truly, it has been the combination of psychiatry, the right medication, and the community I’ve found with poets and poetry, that keeps me here.” (website)

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