PTSD Survivor Poetry by Mary McManus is this week’s installment in our ongoing celebration of National Poetry Month….

Happy To Be Alive from Seasons of the Soul

Face to face with death at knife point
cold darkened eyes stare into mine
unflinching I stare back
afraid to move a muscle
already dead.
Life force safely tucked away
unknowing the outcome of this untimely encounter with death
at the hands of a madman
reasoning destroyed by gin and vermouth.
Angels intervene
he finds peace in death
I am left to put the pieces of my life back together again.
As numbness gives way to pain
pain gives way to gratitude
appreciation for this wondrous wonder filled life
where nothing makes sense and everything makes sense
purpose out of pain
grace in ungodly moments
surrounded by love
happy so happy to be alive
to tell the tale of one who almost died.

Coming Home from A Celebration of Life

A stranger to myself
hollowed heart
broken and defeated
cement thick walls
no way out
no way in
my light flickered and dimmed
never went out
as he breathed me
he fanned flames of hope
I’d stumble and fall
he held out a hand to me
knowing that love lights the way
I’m coming home.

ptsd survivor poetry mary mcmanusMary McManus, MSW grew up in Westchester, NY and contracted paralytic polio in 1959 at the age of 5, during one of the last polio epidemics in the United States. Mary survived 9 years of unrelenting sexual, physical and emotional trauma at the hands of family members culminating with the suicide of her father in 1971 as she prepared to enter her freshman year at Boston University.

Mary was at the height of her 20 year award winning career as a social worker at the VA when she was diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease in December of 2006.

Mary did not take the diagnosis of post polio syndrome sitting down. She embarked on a healing odyssey that began with a leap of faith as she left her social work career to heal her life and to follow her newfound passion as a poet and writer. Mary discovered that post polio syndrome was the manifestation of unhealed trauma and the breach that resulted in her mind/body connection as well as the late effects of having contracted paralytic polio. Her pen became her divining rod for healing as she imagined herself as healthy and whole, even “Running the Race”, which was the first poem she wrote during the dark night of her soul in February of 2007.

Mary is a 2009 Boston Marathon finisher, blogger, the author of 5 books of inspirational poetry and her memoir, “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility”.

mary mcmanus book coverMary holds a BS in Public Relations from Boston University, an MSW from Boston College and many fond memories of her VA social work career in her heart. She lives in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts with her husband of 36 years and their four foot companion, Jamie. To learn more about Mary, you can visit her website at