Leah Nielsen



Situation Automatic Thoughts Physical Response Emotional Response Cognitive Distortion Changed Thought
what makes the better analgesic agent: opium or alcohol? depends on what's available hunger—vacant
field, fingers at the nape
as if being corralled knack for the dramatic given a hot spot, some chop limbs off to save lives
18th century doctors used screw compressors: turn to tighten, amputate and what for the maple, leaves aflame, falling? like seeing the boy kiss someone else weary, wearied, weariful mental filtering, flailing some rebirth bullshit in another's poem
in Hatteras, they hauled the lighthouse inland but saved what? like legs, sand bur scratched or unstretched lack of pliability magnification the sea oats will last longer
the girl slits the belly of a pregnant, beached shark, holds the pup up coat to hang, pulled weed, magic rabbit, thurible cramps: biceps and throat envy disqualifying the positive the pocket knife's smooth, cool pearl shell
eventually they improved the surgical instruments the distance from scalpel and scar like seeing the incision like the distance from the bus stop to the front porch fortune telling you can have a knife crafted to fit your palm
Flight attendant announces he'll collect any remaining garbage the high school boyfriend? (your sense of humor cannot sustain this poem) too Dramamined to determine between relief and deliverance disqualifying the negative Electronic devices: off. Carry-on items: stored. Seat back and tray: upright. Right? Right.
the drowning dream "in the unlikely event of a water landing" unmoving, unmovable like the moment you know you've lost emotional reasoning it's dream drowning—sink and breathe and swim away




Situation Automatic Thoughts Physical Response Emotional Response Cognitive Distortion Changed Thought
woodpecker, incessantly, drilling the secret code into the shutters am a cliché, am one step shy of poet on Prozac cramping—in palm, tongue near asepticism jumping to conclusions what truths did Robert Frost really find in nature? termites? call exterminator? birds are stupid
have stolen line from friend am thief and bird hater slight twinge, slight twining desire to grind coffee to fine mist labeling call it collage; keep calling it friendship; birds are stupid
phone rings I should like people more, more people like cooking pasta when you're full like the end of a book you hoped would last longer should statements don't have to answer; am never full
dirty dishes in both sides of sink why this upswept floor, unkempt heart like a pencil against an inflamed callous like the end of a movie you almost liked mental filtering divide dishes: big stuff, small stuff; wash big stuff first; looks like an accomplishment
dog wants out after loss, there's nothing left to write about like gum tree seed balls—prick, prickle, rive understand woodpecker all-or-nothing there's desire; there's good-bye
good-bye is loss airports—the eternal good-bye in need of Dramamine longing—just one more good-bye magnification no Dramamine, drama, no more mine, mine, mine
want to leave husband for Frost heel, cheat, scrap, shred like an wheel, a wheel rut bird at empty feeder labeling Frost is dead, dilemma, and not the only
have been eternally sad for 23 days, 5 hours, and 47 seconds am all definitions of green I want I want disqualifying the positive am only 2nd and 5th definitions of green
definitions are malleable good like snow globe's snowman dissatisfaction emotional reasoning good: pleasant, tasty, behaved, true, salutary, suitable



The chart and some of the cognitive distortions are borrowed from Managing Pain Before It Manages You, by Margaret A. Caudill, MD. PhD, a workbook for those learning to live with chronic pain. I encountered the book while recovering from a micro discectomy that was less than successful and became obsessed with this chart, that is simultaneously emotionally beneficial and utterly absurd. We can think our way to emotional/psychological wellness, but the world is the world.