Manic Depression in Five Parts By Taylor Pavolillo

Manic Depression in Five Parts

my mom is on the other end of the line–
she’s sobbing. my throat inflates with rage
and I start chewing on my cuticles again.
I imagine tackling my brother to the ground
and slapping him with every insult he’s ever pitched at her.
instead I call him twenty-two times.
he only answers once to call me bitch
and then hangs up.
I just want him to go home.

we thought we had this under control. now
I’m 500 miles away and my mom weeps in her car.
she says, this burden is strapped to my back
and it’s getting too heavy– my legs are going to give out.

she doesn’t stop crying when she crawls into bed at night.

I’m glad my dad isn’t alive to hear
how my brother talks about growing up
afraid of his own voice,
convinced he had no shadow.
he said he thought he was a ghost
that people saw right through.
I don’t think my dad could have understood.

my brother hasn’t slept in three days.
he tore down the ceiling fan in my mom’s room,
and he’s convinced we want to get rid of him.
my mom’s voice is heavy when we talk about hospitalization.
she just wants him to get some sleep.

my brother calls me distraught, says
everything that has turned to rot in his palms
is because I was not a good sister.
he mocks me when I start crying.
I can’t breathe because I know he’s right.
I wake up at 3:46 AM to a six-page apology text.

By Taylor Pavolillo


Taylor Pavolillo is a 21 year old poet living in Oakland, California. She studies Creative Writing and Women and Gender Studies at San Francisco State University, where she can always be found with a cup of coffee in hand. She is the estranged mother of an adorable cat and dog who currently reside in San Diego with their grandmother, and that’s where you can find her heart. She hopes this poem finds you unashamed. She has work featured or forthcoming in Persephone’s Daughters and The Fem Lit Mag, and you can find more at

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