A Poem

Long-Distance Call

By William Polkowski


My telephone rings.

I answer it.

It brings a voice unseen

from a world far away.

I listen …

and maybe I talk.


The world outside me

knifes into the world of

my emotions and my thoughts.

Can I share them?

Can I unburden myself?

Can I find some relief?

I feel so helpless.

From where can I find some hope?


I behold my tomorrows

born of my yesterdays.

They give birth in me my today.

But I forget so many yesterdays that

would tell a different story.


I forget the blossoms of spring,


new life emerging, reaching for the sun.

I forget the warmth of summer,

lazy days

basking on the beach,

people-watching or reading a good book.


I remember the dying leaves of autumn,


falling to be trampled under foot.

I remember the freezing winter

with cold and snow and ice,

the skeletons of trees stripped bare.


I know the grave endures.

Is there no other message from beyond?

During the last several years, Bill Polkowski has written many book reviews for the NAMI newsletter. He has lived with manic depression for almost fifty years. When he hasn’t been in school, he has been a hospice chaplain, a social worker, a psychotherapist, and a Presbyterian pastor. Although he diagnosed himself (accurately) during his first manic episode, he didn’t seek psychiatric treatment until the beginning of his fifth episode. Since then, he has never had depressive episodes, and for years no manic episodes. He has four graduate degrees and ten years of graduate studies: M. Div., Princeton Theological Seminary (three years); Ph.D. in Philosophy, the University of Michigan (five years); M.S.W., the University of Michigan, with a fieldwork placement with Clinical Psychology students (two years). Though retired for many years, he says he will never stop learning.

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