We All Need Therapy by Lamar Neal
Reviewed by Realistic Poetry International
The world can be a tough place to maneuver through sometimes without breaking down the spirit, especially when you feel like there is no one by your side or in your corner to support, listen, or just simply be there when you feel you need them most, including close loved ones and family. So, what is a young man to do when the way God made him isn't what he wants or desires? What is anyone to do when they don't fit in with ever-changing societal norms and superficial stereotypes? Give up? Give in? Pray to God? Retreat with the devil?
Though this question may be simple to answer for some, it's not always that easy for everyone, especially when people sneer and jeer at your imperfect teeth and poke fun at the way you speak, like they used to do to Author Lamar Neal.
But crooked teeth and a noticeable speech impediment aren't the only insecurities Author Lamar Neal despises about himself in his expressive collection of poetry, "We All Need Therapy," and they definitely aren't the only reasons he openly admits to needing therapy.
Describing himself as, "different," in this book, Neal is brutally candid and shameless as he pours out his heart's pensive revelations, evoking multiple memories from his past in which his self-esteem and spirit drown in the deep, dark, sea of self-loathing.
Often feeling misplaced, isolated, and resentful, historical tragedies such as the African American Slave Trade only furthermore boil the fiery blood flowing through his inflamed veins. But it is not merely the dreadful 'memory' of wicked hands capturing human lives, then holding them captive for hundreds of years that cause the Author to conjure poems such as "Survivor" and "O.G. Sin," it is the burning pain that simmers from within that drapes his heart in darkness as his eyes perceive the blood of his people still spilled out, carelessly, onto the cold and corrupt streets, thoughtlessly. Neal then focuses in on one controversial reason for this: the police.
The poem, "Dead Nigga In Nikes," supports his stance on this heated social issue between African American men and sworn officers of the law, highlighting specific facts which he feels are publicly, and purposely, misconstrued in favor of the officers charged (the accused) for shooting and killing unarmed African American boys and men (the victims), perpetuating the cycle of injustice and ultimately undermining the murders and lives of innocent people. Frustrated and angry, Neal swears his brown skin is a curse, and in the same sense, appreciates its resilient, rich heritage. Nonetheless, the abuse, mistreatment, and enslavement of his ancestors dampen his hope in the "American Dream," and instead, places him in a evolving, revolutionary nightmare where he is automatically considered a 'target.' This might also be why Neal sees the infrastructure of the American society as one huge mess, as so he also says about himself in one poem titled exactly that, "A mess."
Seeing that most poems in this collection carry a more cynical, dejected outlook on life and his own identity and experiences, themes of "the devil" and "mental illness," inevitably, accompany his mind's endless conundrum of misery. Though his ability to be frank concerning the unhealthy state of his broken spirit in this poem displays sheer honesty, his tone can be perceived as a bit, uncanny, and perhaps, even morbid, as he nonchalantly admits to succumbing to the devil invading his home, hence, his ongoing battle with mental illness and reluctance and struggle to give or receive love. According to his poetic expressions, he only ‘hopes’ there is someone, anyone, alike his mother in the world, able to love him as the disagreeable human being he paints himself to be.
Ironically, love, real, benevolent love, seems to be the most important factor missing in his life, leaving him to wallow in a tempestuous sea of dolor. This, like with many others who continue to live in this mentally tormenting state, eventually awakens his senses to the horror of suicide (Demons, Ghosts, and Gun Cases), self-mutilation (Chasing Suicide), pornography (Jada Fire), and substance abuse (When you call (For Addiction)), successfully pulling him into a cesspool of self-destruction faster than quicksand!
But does he truly wish for someone to save him as he asks in his featured poem, “Who’s Gonna Save Me?” Or, does the taste of resentment and spite against an imperfect world satisfy the pain of his unfulfilled, malnourished heart? With little to no faith in the one God he frequently references to and acknowledges throughout the book, only time can tell.
Afflicted, troubled, lost, confused, and overcome by the timeless calamities of humanity, this book is not a warm bundle of comfort, nor does its path shine with the light of optimism or inspiration. A rebel to society and a renegade to tradition, Author Lamar Neal's years of depression, from childhood to adulthood, stain the pages of each poem like blood from befouled wounds. Yet and still, a true poetry enthusiast cannot help but to say after reading some of the poems in this book that - poetry heals! And this book is proof.
Surely, as we live, tragedies, evil people (and their evil intentions), and dishonorable injustices such as slavery, bullying, hatred, racism, murder, cheating, selfishness, and lying will, indeed, exist. Humans WILL fall short. Humans are not perfect. And neither is the world we inhabit, making it all too easy for us to abandon hope and watch it swirl quickly down the drain (especially without the proper support), just as the Author himself explains from personal experience. "We All Need Therapy" reflects this cold reality and uses poetry to finally release and express pinned up anger and sadness from years of bottled up silence and emotional damage/abuse.
Aware of life's dividing line of good and evil and the merciless demons haunting him, soundless inquiry bubbles like molten lava saying, "Who’s Gonna Save His Soul (also a featured poem from this collection)?" An important question to ponder as he treads upon the path of the unknown, yet the answer flees us and dresses mysteriously in verses of enigma as only gray clouds of uncertainty loom overhead, heavy with the weight of his salty tears of bittersweet, red rain.
Graphic, raw, and deeply emotional explicit, we present this book with a 3-star rating and believe it speaks to those who, too, feel passionate about the many social injustices and inequalities in circulating in America; politically, culturally, and economically, especially in the African American Community.
***As strong advocates and supporters of the youth, we do highly suggest parental guidance for young, premature readers and audiences due to mature content and explicit language.***
This book is available for purchase at