Margo Button – An Unhinging of Wings

Margo Button is an award winning poet.  She wrote her first collection of poetry in honour of her son Randall John Button whose mental illness eventually led to his suicide.  The following poem is from, The Unhinging of Wings which won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 1997.  She writes to a universal challenge.  How do we ever come to terms with the randomness that leads to loss of innocence, helplessness, torment and ultimately profound sorrow.   And no one to blame…


A generation ago, psychiatrists
concocted a brutal blame,
sanctified it with a medical term:
Mothers drive children mad.
Like the goddess Kali, they create
and they destroy…


At first, his father and I
blame each other for the way
our son turns out.  Then I blame myself.
Mother used to say, You’ll see
what suffering is when you have your own.
Then I blame marijuana and
the girlfriend who supplies him.
Maybe, he just needs to grow up.

When he screams at the corkscrew
splitting his skull, doctors diagnose
drug-induced schizophrenia
Maybe, if he stops the drugs.


Now I know there is
no one to blame.
but that impassive god
who shoots stray bullets
through the brain.

 – Margo Button from, The Unhinging of Wings

This reflection is part of the series: How People With Disabilities Will Save the World.  I welcome your suggestions or guest contributions. You can access the whole series by clicking the category: Save the World.

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