Keep One In The Chamber

This poem was previously published on my column on Feminine Collective.


Darkness has fallen. The winds, they blow strange.
The devils we know have all changed their names.
They have coloured their faces, these heathens without shame,
all pointing corrupt fingers, all deflecting the blame.
They kill our time breathing upon life’s precious things,
taking pleasure from bullets tearing butterfly wings.
One for the kid just trying to get home,
clutching rainbows of death and his girl on the phone.
A few for the women, the mothers not to be,
slaughtered for their choices in the land of the free.
Five for the heroes who laid down their lives
when a blue line was crossed in Dallas that night.
Another forty-nine blazed through the night skies,
carrying the pulse of one love on terrified cries.
In San Bernardino there was holiday cheer,
and then fourteen funerals to ring in the New Year.
In the back of a car on the side of a road,
a little girl counts as a gun unloads.
Into her daddy the bullets are sprayed,
white ones and blue ones and both are afraid.
Her mama is crying and this is their fight,
cars without tail lights and bodies without white.
Gone are the days when we put kids to bed,
with nary a worry but a kiss on the head.
We used to teach fools to be wary of strangers,
but now we tell children to keep one in the chamber.

© Nicole Lyons 2017

MindTrip CROSSFIRE Humanity Edition: Mental Illness, Massacres & Misinformation

Welcome to MindTrip Crossfire

A section where I take one topic and hit it from two different bipolar perspectives. This is the place where we encourage you to join in on the conversation, share your experience, and let us know where YOU stand.

The MindTrip CROSSFIRE: Humanity Edition is taking a look at the recent UCC massacre. Your contributors are Nicole Lyons and Jacqueline Cioffa.


I Cry The Same Tears Over and Over Again Until Something Changes

By Nicole

Every 40 seconds someone in this world dies by suicide. In the time it will take you to finish reading this blog, roughly 8 people will have taken their own lives, and 90% of those people will have been living with a mental illness. Chances are high that the only pain they have caused others has just been the excruciating soul crushing loss they have left their loved ones with by their devastating departure from this world.

It’s happened again. Another massacre, another mass shooting, another “crazy” person has killed a bunch of innocent people and the world has once again gone looking for blood. I too have shed tears over this tragedy and the countless others, and the ones that are sure to follow this one and the next, and still the next and the ones after those. And I will continue to cry for those victims of those preventable tragedies until our collective citizens stand up and demand change, instead of spilling more blood.

I will continue to my guttural wail of rage until you all command that treatment be a requirement for lost and broken brains. When you all finally take a pledge to stand as one in solidarity and understand that health is more important than your guns.

I promise you that change will come, and come swiftly.

You tell me that your guns are your right, but God Damn You, MY HEALTH is my right. You want to lay blame on the feet of a mother whose child was born sick, pick one, there are many. I will lay blame at the feet of a government who refuses to care for their sick, their weak, and their hurt.

My heart bleeds for the victims of each massacre, but making it this much easier for the mentally ill to hurt others, as we know is a very real possibility, is preposterous to me. If you want to enact change, use your voice for those of us that need it. Gun Control Laws, it’s called an amendment because you can amend it.

I have been to the edge and back, and while I know for a fact that I I would never harm anyone but myself, there are others not like me. They are still good people, beautiful people, people I love, and before you hate on me for my thoughts and views, maybe you should read something from someone who I love very much who isn’t quite as certain.



By Jacqueline

We are a sick society. Before you hurl stones, rocks and bullets at my beliefs, or me please don’t. I never asked to be put in a 2 x 2 narrow minded, cement block box filled with blame and shame, yet here I am. One of the crazies. On the outside I appear pretty, well mannered, kind and a little bit eccentric. The three-pound brain matter floating inside my skull and faulty DNA tells me otherwise. The darkness and the violent genetic history, the ever-present reminder the cracks and fissures could explode. The grandfather who threw boiling water at his wife ending up in Willard, a violent act, the relative who committed murder and suicide, a violent act, the gorgeous, brilliant cousin who I adored’s death by suicide, another violent act.

Do I blame them, absolutely not. Do I understand the out of your mind depths of a psychotic break, yes. I have been out of mind, spinning out of control, consumed by the crazy. Who’s to say the phone I hurled at my mother in a moment of paranoia, fear and rage could not have been a loaded gun. I cannot honestly say with one hundred percent certainty that I would not pull the trigger. In that one instant I am not a thinking, rational human being with a healthy brain. I can’t in good conscience be responsible for brain matters I do not understand, that Science does not understand and when crazy is shrugged off as the inconvenience.

All people have a propensity towards violence, throw in Mental Illness and it’s a recipe for disaster. Now, do not misinterpret or misconstrue what I am saying. There are millions of upstanding citizens living with mental illness and thriving with not one hint of violence in their beings. Me, I am blessed with an army of support, a goddamn brigade of humans who circle around me, creating a bubble of protection when I am unwell. Which, in truth is every single day. I am broken, cracked and seriously fragmented. What I am not is delusional, in denial or unaware.

I do not blame myself. I will not blame myself. I will blame the mental illness that has wreaked havoc on my life, and the ones I love dearly. You see, I would kill for them. And, that scares the hell out of me. I have written the blame and shame game in I AM ADAM LANZA, I have shared the ugliest, darkest, scariest pieces of my insanity in SEVEN SHADES OF SICK.

Who is to blame for the massacres, the sick individuals who walk into a school or movie theatre with mass arsenals readily available?

I blame every single one of you. And myself. I blame the lackadaisical therapists who missed something, the arrogant pyschiatrists who check the clock unwilling to study, delve deeper, question everything they know about mental illness throw it out the window and start fresh. I blame the media whores who shove the pictures of dead children and gruesome images of grieving parents without following up. I blame the fractured, broken mental health system where prisons have become modern mental institutions. I blame the government, politics, the NRA, greed, power, and money-grubbing mongrels for shoving the news down our throats with no concrete answers. I blame the parent who buys their child a laptop, or a Smartphone because they’re too busy to go outside and throw a ball around, to communicate and ask simply, how was your day?

I blame anyone and everyone who is in denial about the violent, sick, twisted world we live in.

I blame Social Media for creating an easily, accessible outlet glorifying the senseless massacres. I don’t blame the lonely, isolated, unwell human beings with no support system. They are very real, and they exist in our world. They are humans desperately trying to fit in. Their sick, twisted minds don’t need the apathy of a deluded society.

I blame anyone and everyone who thinks their child would or could never commit such a heinous act. Guess what, I am somebody’s child.

And I’m telling you not to look the other way. Violent acts happen every single day.

I do not need or want a gun in my home.

Who do I blame the most? I blame humanity.


Jacqueline Cioffa was an international model for 17 years and celebrity makeup artist. She is a dog lover, crystal collector and Stone Crab enthusiast. Her work has been featured in “Brainstorms, the Anthology” and numerous literary magazines. Living with manic depression, Jacqueline is an advocate for mental health awareness. She’s a storyteller, observer, essayist, potty mouth and film lover who’s traveled the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Tumblr, and her Author Site. Look for her on the Gravity Imprint of Booktrope Publishing.