Thursday, December 08, 2005

Norman Helmets

These are the helmets that follow. In them, I see the few that I've loved. They smile at me with black, rotten teeth and teach to me what sounds like the truth of my existence: virtue for pain.

I can hear your chorus now. I know the chant; I've heard it before. Every second of every day you chase me. You doubt my sincerity, and make light of my troubles. Everything isn't fine. I'm not OK. The chorus finds a thousand ways to reach me, but stays willfully aloof. You observe long enough to see the pattern, and assume that my will conforms to your shapes. It doesn't. None of you stay long enough to see the truth in my patterns, but you sit and judge as if you have. Call my rumblings complaint and pity mongering. I call them notice; someday, they'll be served.

Until then, you can stay behind your helmets.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A Month and A Missive

My writing over the past month was scarcer than in all months since I started trying to write my problems in late 1995. Only one poem got through the effort. I feel the same.

Every night I grapple with sleep as I wonder if my struggle makes sense or matters to anyone else but me. I fight the same demons who strike the same chords in pursuit of the same song that makes me feel miserable all the time. This past month forced me to see things as I refused to believe for many years. People read for enjoyment. They don't want a new source of pain, or a view into the mind of this madman. Readers like to see romance, action, mystery, all the things that set fiction apart from life. Sure, my experience is a novelty at first. Not many people know the landscape of madness, so the first fifteen to twenty lines of a poem are interesting to them. Skill can carry my writing only so far; acumen stretches the imagination of a reader in only so many different ways.

My brother wants me to write an autobiography or some other tract to explain schizophrenia to a wider audience. It sounds compelling, but in the end I could probably count on one hand the number of people I know who would read such a thing. Basically, it would amount to large amounts of nonsense stitched together with bouts of tedious complaining. Think about it. Do you care one way or another? Would you sift through 1400 lines of melancholy to find three of happiness? I wouldn't, and I'm supposed to be writing this thing. Honestly, how much have any of you read in this blog or anything else of mine that leaves you wanting more?

People like to read madness as evil. How many times have you used the word "sick" when describing something when it should probably be labeled "evil?" Think back to the last time you discussed a local violent crime with an acquaintance: if the crime was pedestrian you'll probably label the criminal as "stupid," but if it's something flamboyant or intentionally gruesome, how many of you would say "now that's just sick" even though you know me and know that sickness has nothing to do with it. Look at the array of popular fiction monsters laid out for consumption: Hannibal Lector, Jack the Ripper (I know he was real, but his legend stopped being truth a long time ago), Freddy, Jason, Chucky, and the rest: they're all crazy. Hell, even look at historical figures like Hitler and Pol Pot. How many of you have questioned their sanity before hopefully coming to the obvious point of truth: they're just evil thugs more similar to a schoolyard bully than myself.

I've used this even in my own writing. Stitches is basically autobiography taken to an extreme. In the end, I make the point that madness unacknowleged can be the root of many wrongs, and that a metered insanity demands patience, time, dedication, and a heaping spoonfull of shut-the-hell-up to keep the evils in check. The truth of the matter is somewhat different: the worst crime of madness is usually suicide, and a metered insanity demands patience, time, dedication , and a heaping spoonfull of shut-the-hell-up because nobody wants to hear my garbage, or anyone else's for that matter. I wrote a poem about it. It's old, but what with me isn't?


Do you know what I used to be?
You have no idea
If I showed you, you wouldn't believe me

His first eye is here
His second not far away
he can see who I am
without looking outside his own head

I stand here as a fragment
a guilt-fed shard
a clownish imitation of a writer
with a fraud of a poem on my lips

reciting former cantos
I can say with my new voice
"I hold me in my arms"
when I can't even hold a bottle

pills, whiskey, what's the difference?
I use them to use me
Not for pleasure, or recreation
I use them because I must

to string the drugs together
to make a new history
knowing that if they're gone
I have none of my former faculties
I burned those fields to the ground a long time ago
I sowed them with salt, psalms, and snake-oil.

Health is a charade
for me, it's just a set of chemicals
whether I get them from my brain
or I get them from a bottle,
It's all just pointless ingestion

I'm someone else without them
and someone new under their influence

I am not a man
I am a shadow of a memory
slowed by years of atrophy
an imposter of a foreign age

Feigning passion, I write
knowing the whole time
that I'm a bastard in the aether
I gobble words whole
masticate them
and spit them out, so proud
to make my children out of language

my art is a lie
and deep down, so am I

I'm a puppet of my own desires

Why do I write like this?

I want people to see the torture
And I don't have the skills to inflict it any other

I took the torture, and sewed it inside me
a cross-stitch of letters

Do we share a common ground?
Yes, we do
I stand with myself
on the other side of this madness
on this stage with my demons

I'm as serious as you wish
as pathetic as you desire
with my two minutes of sensation
listen to my voice, and I'll tell you

my voices won't stop
no matter how loud I play the music
or how long I sleep at night

-- I sleep alone
like always --

the voices I carry with me
speak in these words
I loosely translate them for your pleasure
because my secret wishes
permit me to say only so much

my secret wishes tell me
someone will listen someday,
and join me in my verses
be my better half
smile at my imperfections
and know me like I know myself

but this won't happen
the drugs I take cloud everything
limp in life I stay
their strings pull on my limbs

each thread holding the marionette
makes me limp, relaxed
but held in the tension

between the forces that hold me up
against my weight
pulling me down, beckoning me home
with all the other limpness
weakness on the ground
not manipulated into standing
performing a dance of the puppeteer

recovery in a bottle
and a promise to make me real
so I dance with the drugs
as long as you'll pay attention

I know I'm not the best
in this room, or on this stage
but here I am
and you're watching me

send your donations to Otsuka pharmeceutical
thank you for the strings
I hope you enjoyed the show

Sunday, October 30, 2005


In my dreams, they follow and become nightmares. No matter what activity or thought is at hand, the little bits of voices are always nearby. The sound of their torment ranges from small whispers predicting the next word in every conversation to a choir lamenting the loss of another moment to their song.

I don't fear much in life. Violence doesn't scare me: physical pain is a joke. Every instant feels like another, so I'm not as afraid of tomorrow as I was yesterday. The greatest fear in my life is their pursuit. For a long time, my hope hinged on peace in love, death, and understanding. With their accompaniment into my love and mangling of any understanding, only death seems safe. What leaves me cold and awake at night are not just the memories that never match, but the growing fear that when my time comes, they will follow. Every hour of every day, they remind me of their presence in some small way: as my past changes from a moment, to a memory, and to another dream, they follow and become nightmares.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


is my favorite question. Why was Jacob blessed above Esau? Why was David beautiful to God despite killing a man for no other reason than to be with the dead man's wife? Why was Job restored while I remain on my dung heap? Why was justice absent from my childhood? Why was I denied adolescence and adulthood by the onset of my disease? Why do some receive mercy from Legion by the finger of God, while I am left in full occupation?

I wander through my life expecting everything to have a motive, to operate on justice instead of order. Furthermore, I expect justice in exchange for virtue and truth. I give nothing but virtue, say the truth, and recieve not justice, but pain. I suppose sometime I'll have to reconcile with not being a favortite in His eyes. Admittedly, my armor of faith is more of an open screen door to torment from myself and others, but where is my protection? Why is there no herd of pigs to take away the Legions of my madness?

I admit it: I'm jealous of you. All those who wrong me end up successful; I end up more and more insane every day. Is it really so bad to want from my position? Perhaps the jealousy and coveting are the reasons for my misery, but where does that leave my happiness? I've long suspected that happiness lies at the tip of my Brother's knuckles or the lash of my father's belt: they succeed while I fail. However, if my task is to find joy in pain, I will always fail. I can endure a lot of pain, but I still can't bring myself to like it. I'm close with physical pain, as evidenced by the scars on my hands well documented in this blog, but the loneliness and melancholy will always bother me most, it seems.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


I sit with silence in my ears, but a battle in my head rages between memories and fears. One could say I hear the hostilities, but hearing is far too imprecise to describe the carnage. Every ounce of doubt and regret builds up until the borders won't hold aggressors, and my howling lament erupts into words that only I seem to notice. I write them down, but no one seems to understand.

I wait with silence in my ears, but pills in my palm to greet midnight. One could say I welcome the impossible days and unbearable nights in this world not of my choosing, but obviously of my invention. Every ounce of me misses closeness, misses trust: misses love; melancholy seeps into words to which all others seem indifferent. I wrote them, and shouted them in the streets, but met myself on the road, and strangled him.

Now, I write with silence on my lips, but a pen in my hand to shape tomorrow. One could say I write from love, but love evades me like the perfect words for this moment. Every ounce of ink defies odds and logic the same way, and litters my pages with flurries of poetic brilliance punctuated by eternities of verses so ugly, only sheer anonymity can consume them. I withhold nothing from my chronicles, but the melancholy fuel for my stationary poetic inertia ensures the pursuit of their passages to remain nameless, misunderstood, and unloved.

Everyone misses something, I believe. I miss happiness: a delusion I briefly defined with my undeserved devotion, accepting the words "I know" instead of "I love you," and a desire only reciprocated in my imagination. How foolish am I? All the pills, pens, and promises for peace can't satisfy my silent habits, conceived in madness, carried in words, and condemned in the verses rehearsed in my thoughts for an audience of none.

Friday, October 14, 2005


I last updated this blog a week ago, but not much changed in the difference. Remaining in my unconquerable melancholy, my life seems static and passive: I'm waiting for something good to happen to me. I'll probably be waiting for a long time. I miss close human contact. I miss feeling wanted, needed, and appreciated; I feel desperately alone despite any circumstances otherwise. Every night is a battle for sleep. I talk a good game, but I want to quit on the stool like Kostya Tszyu. As I struggle to slumber, I feel like I continue to slip, no matter what circumstances arise. It's been a while since I've written poetry; I can't remember writing less than now. I guess I just seek too much understanding from writing, and I'm dissapointed in the results. I feel mute. Every day is a challenge to be heard: A challenge I never seem to meet.

Friday, October 07, 2005


When I get sick, my writing and speech cease to make coherent sense. I wrote the two posts below in a psychotic state. They are plagued by point of view errors, unfinished thoughts, and awkward, inappropriate reasoning. My thoughts are like that now more often than not; I hope I've not lost readership from it, although I fear I have. I don't know what to do, and I still find not even a shred of love or understanding. I've given up on justice.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Thoughts on Letting Go

I'm close to ending this, closer than any of you know. I put only virtue into my life, and receive only pain. Is it so wrong to want?

Every day, I slip a little more. How far is enough? I accept a state of being now that eight years ago I would not. The last thing Prester Bane said to me after my game of russian roulette was "Do you want it to jam?" My answer was a no. I put down the revolver, and surrendered myself to the police. If I knew then what I know now, I would not hesitate to pull the trigger again. What am I supposed to be living for? I'm incapable of most basic normal emotions and social functions.

My love is useless and worthless. Every day, I hear my friends and acquaintances bitterly complain about their choice of partners. Some plan to trade in the old relationship for a newer, younger piece of candy, and some break hearts for convenience; they think a girlfriend a long way away can't give them what they want out of a relationship. Damn them. I have no choice, and no options. Can't they see? I will die alone and lonely for reasons I'm just now completely grasping. I'm completely un lovable. I can give blind love and devotion, but those virtues seem to be meaningless.

Here's a list of scenarios I've found people prefer over me: an available moment with a best friend's lover, a drug addict returning to the area with only lies and a better smile than mine, a two-faced liar out for sex with as many conquests as possible, a liar active in all of the above scenarios swearing he's changed and wants another try. Still, with all those options, the most common choice of company over mine is still to not know me at all. I can't think of one friend who has always stuck with me and supported me in the fashion I do for all my friends, new or old.

In my high school days, I wanted to be a monk. The idea of quiet thinking and prayer appealed to me in the storm of my madness; the only obstacle was finding a church and order similar enough to my beliefs to take up the habit. It seems I've taken up a habit of sorts. I believe we'll call the order "The Knights of Void" That's a good name for a monastic society.

So here I sit, typing more irrelevancy into the internet. Few will read, less will understand, none will comment save to oppose this sentence. I took twice as many tranquilizers tonight as I usually would, so writing is becoming difficult. I'd say "see you later" lastly, but I think we all know that lie. The truth is that I don't want to live in here with him

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Pain and Toy Soldiers

I have two options for success when it comes to women:

1) go platonic
2) lie about absolutely everything

Some of you will protest, but in the end, we all know the truth. To be with me, there are two options, be with me against Prester Bane, or be with him like the Doctors and Therapists. Some of you will protest and say there's nothing about my schizophrenia that keeps me from relationships; you are wrong in ways I've not expressed until now. I don't need help sharing what lies in his camp, they're too strong; I need to share the weak parts.

While it is true that schizophrenia in general doesn't necessarily hinder a normal relationship, the specifics of my illness do. The near impotency caused by my Prozac for OCD is unavoidable in all situations. Assuming I don't lie about circumstances, the rest break down into his camp or mine. I go to war with Prester Bane about everything, even the most minor occurrences can set off escalating hostilities. He is strong, and I am weak; he wins. My only weapon against his will is silence. I can almost always make the war of words go completely inside; at the very worst, I can make the banter silent, and the physical wounds either subtle enough to not be noticed, or propped up by some bullshit story. The war never stops, and never sleeps; When you ask me to be strong, that would be asking me to bear it alone, keeping it silent and subtle, at least for the moment.

The complete loneliness comes from my schizophrenia. If someone I love says, for example "Hey Thomas, do you want to go to the movies today?" My truth would be "yes, from every fiber in my being, I want to be with you." This is not exaggeration. I hate my solitude, but everyone I know is indifferent at best towards it. If you are in my camp, you'd say "Sure, I understand; I'll even hold your hand when you rant about the movie later because I know you're a good person, but you can't keep him silent all the time." His camp would say "OK, but I don't want to hear your crap about it; keep it to yourself." Those of you who know me know this to be truth. Goodbye is easy for him; he's strong. Goodbye is hard for me, every time I say it, I want to say "don't leave me in here with him!" However, of course, no one can love me and take that at the same time.

If a woman were to live with me in my camp, she would have to deal with me up all hours of the night screaming in argument with myself. If you'd have to ask me to be quiet -- trust me, you will -- you'd be with him, for at least the night. Even in the hospital, I had to keep it all inside. They have clinical treatments for when I'm too weak to keep my pain silent and subtle: straightjackets and quiet rooms.

I can offer complete and total devotion. I can offer my love, such that it is. Some can feel strongly for me; a few can claim to love me back, but in the end, if you stay in my camp, I'll drag you to the deep water of my solitude and drown you. Until then, you'll speak with me through him. Ask me to be strong; ask me to cope; ask me to at least appear happy; these are only met under his rule.

The strong parts are the ones that brag about my survival through eleven years. He brags about the game of Russian roulette; he brags about the pills; he both screams that he's invincible in public, and scolds me for being too weak to stop him. He's both edges of the sword of Damocles above my head: he brags about how much pain I can take, and absconds me for my suffering. I have to keep him silent: nobody knows what it's like to deal with something like him, not even other schizophrenics.

I vilify him more than I probably should. I hate him because life under his control does nothing but cause me pain. In the end, good and evil don't really matter; those are his words for humanity, not mine. My words are weak and strong, which brings me to the title of this post. All I really have is pain and toy soldiers, but even the toy soldiers become more and more his every day.

To learn more about my toy soldiers, visit my warhammer blog, Jacob's Brother

Until then, remember: I can't control any of this, I can only stay silent about it. Lies are great because I don't have to do either.

Everything on this site is copyright Thomas Jackson 2007

Monday, September 26, 2005

A Struggle With Youth

Sometimes opportunity or grace is disguised as misfortune. I am well-prepared for my particular illness: I have good friends, medical insurance from my father's Army benefits, two amazing parents, and a strong will to not succumb to adversity. I do not know anyone else in a better position to survive my madness: if someone must be sick, I think I'm the best person I know to deal with that struggle.

A good friend of mine struggles with a similar situation. She recently took in a child not her own from her niece. The child's name is Asia: she's a wonderful little four year old with great promise. Unfortunately, I believe my friend's wayward niece neglected Asia's intellect. Asia cannot write her own name or read a complete paragraph; she knows a few words by sight, but cannot write some letters, or assemble any of them into words. However, I believe this misfortune smiles as providence. My friend is the best of her family, and Asia's intellect improves every day. I firmly think functional illiteracy waited for Asia outside of my friend's care. Although my friend's niece's abandonment of Asia treads heavily in irresponsibility, it also leads Asia to my friend's protection and guidance. The whole situation seems unfair to my friend, but I firmly believe my friend's care to be Asia's best chance at normalcy and success. If someone must take care of Asia, my friend is the best person I know in her family to deal with that struggle.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


It takes a lot of time to develop a poetic image with endurance enough to cover more than one short poem. Two images that I've taken to the level of a poetic conceit are the Lion and Christine. Undiagnosed, I oftentimes thought I assumed the form of a male lion at night. My claws came out, and I prowled around the woods behind my house: I never wore shoes, and I sometimes prowled nude. My first lion poems were garbage; I couldn't stand to look at them they were so terrible. Most of my old lion poems found themselves discarded and forgotten in the 1998 poetic purge. This is a poem from shortly thereafter; it's a horrible mess, but much better than my earlier works.



I'm stepping off the beach of void
and stepping into stranger lands
appearing as a lion's plain
and stretching out for miles around

my form is like a lion-centaur
bloody like a hunting beast
the torso of a white-skinned human
with head and legs like male lions

The darkness falls around the plains
across the sweat on Lion's brow
a dance of blades inside my maw
that meet with flesh from grazing beasts

throughout the night, I stalk my prey
the practiced Art of Death beholds
his faithful servant: Lion Mask
and bids him do his pretty dance

embalming with a morbid fury
the lion waits to grab its prey
I'm blinded by the parting breath
of love I lost so long ago

eating writhing burning beast
the Lion's flaying grazing flesh
with hooks on claws and shards of teeth
he's coming with a fury's vengeance

I'm dazed by what my conscience sees
unconscious with the love I lost
the sun is rising: feel its wrath
at what the Lion wrought at night


It seems incomplete because it's part of a much larger work entitled The Amber Eye (go figure). Even The Amber Eye, a 2800 line poem, cannot hold a reader's attention for long. I don't know why I keep trying to fix it, but that's another matter for another time. My point is simple: it takes many ugly lines written to earn enough expertise at one image to stretch said image into a character or a poetic conceit. My writing on lions goes back to the beginning, late 1995 through early 1996 and the second image that dominated my poetry for seven years: Christine.

Christine began as a girl I knew in high school. She had beautiful, curly red hair, and the most knowing set of blue eyes on any woman I've seen. She was beautiful and was nice to me, so naturally, I had my first real psychotic crush on her. It started in 1995, and was my first reason to write poetry. Keep in mind that our friendship ocurred entirely after I got sick. I looked and searched for an image to make hers. At first I described her as a combination of fiery hair, azure eyes, and skin as pale as milk. I found this combination awkward and lacking enough internal consistency to use over more than one brief lyric. After many stops and starts, I found her image: The Sunrise. With puffs of white clouds hanging whisper-thin expanses of red with just enough sky blue to peek out of corners, the Sunrise became my main image for her. Starting there, I built a legend. Prester Bane refers to it as a lie, and he's probably right. As a combination of Apollo and Artemis, I made her in the form of a Greek Goddess. With my imagination spurred by psychotic forces and her beauty, I wrote with abandon. However, the first Christine poems are even worse than the early Lion poems. I honed my craft on Christine long after she was a real person in my mind. She became my muse. The following are two poems, the first is early work from just after the 1998 purge, and the last is a section last revised in 2005 of The Amber Eye.


your warm heart is beating
closely to my chest
as we are dancing slowly
and dancing towards the west

the west's where suns are setting
and where they go to rest
for sunrise in in the morning
takes much out of them

but sunrise in your face
is always true to me
with reddish hair, and bluish eyes
it speaks with pure tones

i can see it forever
i view it in the night
with eyes, and in my dreams
i have it in my sight.



I dreamt that I could see you there
A source of light that shines on me
Reflecting light upon the waves
Your light is all that I can see

So kiss me softly, waves of gold
With hair that's red, and eyes of blue
If I could speak across the distance
I'd tell you now I love you true

The watercolor whispers here
Are telling me to reach anew
Without a flaw, my amber eye
Can't see the weak things I can't do

If I was more a lover then
And less a hate filled lion now
Perhaps the span would be much less
And I could know the where and how

Of where you went, of why you left
The Sun retreating on the beach
Towards the west, and out of sight
And like the Sun, you're out of reach

So come be near me dear Christine
Whose love, in haste, I threw away
Psychotic hubris, red and gore
I heard you tell me you won't stay

So love me now without a doubt
If only with a whisper's hue
On paper with a wetted brush
For all the days I'm loving you


The difference in quality should be obvious. Sometimes, I write poetry about people I know, and from time to time, people who ask me to write a poem of them. They don't understand the kind of work it takes to make a person out of an image. Two examples of this are my Uncle Bubba, and Jaime. My Uncle Bubba wants me to write a poem of him, but every time I try to write, garbage comes out. I love my Uncle Bubba dearly, and don't want to give him a shiny bauble without substance; I want the poem I write of him to be great. This means more time than most people, and my Uncle Bubba, would expect. Poetry isn't a spontaneous magic wand of beauty, it's all hard work and boring repetition until things are right. A case in point is the body of work I wrote of Jaime. I tried a few pieces with different images, colors, and constructions. Two of these poems follow.


The bower breeze beneath my nose,
across my lips and past my cheek
Recites these verses as they slip
Away from me on wind that carries.

I can’t ignore the wind this time
It speaks to me, and holds my hand
With smiles and whispers in my head
Too long it’s been since I heard those.

I’ve let myself descend with darkness
Into the chasms of my pain
and there I stayed for far too long
I let myself abandon me

But now I won’t let loving jam
A wedge between my thoughts and words
Too often, truth remains untold
But not today, and not from fear

I want to feel your arms around me
I stopped to breathe the bower’s breeze
I need some better words than these
To set my past and present free.


With Jaime, i find happiness
In places I thought lost to me
In ways that seemed impossible
A forest grows inside my heart

I stalk those woods alone again
With open arms and lesser burdens
Accepting all the love sent me
I speak in verses, flurried, hurried

So thorns can still entangle me
And haul me down, entwinined with words
It’s good to clear the undergrowth
And let my lovetrees grow

A brush of bodies stops me
As whispers fill the air
I utter with full meaning
More words to say “I love you”

And Jaime whispers back “I know”
With smiles I see in all the lovetrees
Still beautiful and wonderful to me
I now see her and only her

Inviting every lucid moment
To stay with me in poetry,
I walk this forest made of love
That long seemed lost, but just was waiting


Originally, I liked the idea of plants and vegetation because her eyes are either green or brown in color, depending on the light, just like the woods behind my house that I once prowled at night. Both of these poems are complete busters. They're garbage. However, shortly before Jaime dumped me, I found an image that I believed worked: Princess Black and Yellow, for her two favorite colors. I wrote for a while on Princess Black and Yellow, and damnit, it was beautiful. It was some of my best stuff, but after Jaime dumped me, I torched it all (literally). It's all gone. Nothing remains. So, now the only poetic evidence I have left of the whole relationship are my early Jaime poems: they will teach me how not to go about poetic imagery in the future. I think she thought I'd immediately be able to write beautiful poems of her; she never knew of the parade of crap I wrote about Christine before I got the images down. Besides, who needs beautiful poetry about a buster of a relationship? I don't.

Patience is a virtue. It takes a lot of virtue to write someone well.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Jaws of a Lion

The lion roars inside me.
For those of you who know,
And those of you who don’t,
This symbol of my youth

So strong, so stealthy, so
Strange to know so better
Than acres of green grass
And the scent of a woman

Still rules my lonely moments.
When every breath of Midnight
Brings doubt, regret, and knowledge,
I still harbor the great cat

In every second ticking
On a watch stopped yesterday.
My claws grow long tonight,
Take ink and shred words:

The cantos of my Love!
Burned hasty in the sun,
Mistaken by a friend,
They cool in Midnight’s blanket:

Not trophies, not curses
Just words from a fool
In cover of darkness
And the jaws of a lion.

As always, everything on this site is copyright Thomas Jackson 2005.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


My favorite artist of the 20th century is probably Francis Bacon (also known as the other Francis Bacon). He did some marvelous work on canvas, and some damn fine portraits. I don't know from where he got his inspiration, nor do I know anything about his methods with the brush. Sometimes I envy the visual artist because he's got both more freedom than a poet, a more universally understood medium, and more precise control over the images he portrays.

This is my favorite Francis Bacon painting. I don't like photographs of myself, but when I look at it, I feel like I'm looking into a mirror. If you want to know how I look, and the hand images are not enough to satisfy you, take a look at this wonderful piece of art:

Learn more about Francis Bacon. This is where I got the 1932.jpg image file that looks like me.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

World Change

I performed this piece a few years ago when Montgomery College put on a show of The Vagina Monologues. I surprised most of my classmates with my opinion; apparently I'm perceived as a chauvanistic bigot by most people when they meet me face-to-face.

A world without violence: An essay in light and dark

When I was a kid,
all the scary stuff
happened in the dark

Hunchbacks in the belfry
long leggedy beasties
and things that go bump in the night

in the light
we see ourselves
for what we are:

basically out for others


basically out for ourselves

But there is still darkness
in the hearts of men
no matter what we know of ourselves

and this is the issue at hand

whether dark

or light

Nothing can tell me
what a world without violence could be

Where a wife-beater is a coward
and a brute
the worst sort of petty thug

who attacks the weakest
that are unable,
or worse,
to fight back

We hide it in the dark:

our shame

to hit a woman is shame
to strike is never to love

I know the pain
to be the target
without the will
or means
to retaliate

I thought I deserved it
I thought “that’s what I’m for”
the shame swelled

In this night veil I concealed
my anguish
my pain
my weakness
my doubts
and crumbling will

The ways to end my world
Were always my companions:
A gun
A car wreck
the bottle
the pills

or maybe
just maybe

To throw off the veil of the night

point the finger where it belongs

At the violators
the thugs
the simple purveyors of violence

start it young
and never stop

Every bully in the school yard
who thinks his size demands fear
pointed out

every self-styled macho-man
who thinks his high school sweetheart
as his property
pointed out

every wife-beating failure
who thinks his frustrations in life
merit power in pain
over those he claims to cherish
pointed out

as life gets longer,
the excuses always complicate
these quite simple truths:

Abuse is cowardice
it’s not about the pain
it’s about the power

The night should be a comfort
Where we sleep, rest, and love
the one beside us

We shouldn’t have to see love
To know it’s always there
In a world without violence

Friday, September 02, 2005

Searching Back Home

Patmos asked me how I live with my difficulties and remain the way I do. I learned from the Bible and my own experience on how to live, but those were almost my last two choices. Several years ago, I determined that my life was profoundly unjust, and I needed to find a faith that was, so I read. I read the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, The Analects of Confucius, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, and the other Taoists; I was quite enamored of Taoism for a while, and many other books considered holy by all walks of Men. In the end, I came back and read Job. Christianity and God in general appealed more to me once I'd read that book again than any of the other faiths of which I read.

Admittedly, I have a heretical streak running a mile down my back. I turn to the apocryphal Apocalypse of Saint Peter when I feel the warm breath of Hell breathing down my neck. I don't believe in eternal damnation. I think our prayers to and for others matter in a direct way. I can't be part of a religion where salvation is a mental act: my mind is profoundly inadequate in many areas of thinking when I am at my sickest. I also like Christianity's open stance on laws. I don't see any New Testament books as detailing laws per se; they seem to set examples for a Human conscience to interpret. I suppose the closest are Corinthians, but I see them as specific letters by Paul to a specific church in Corinth; even at that, he's not necessarily right. Corinthians, like the Beatitudes, seem to me to be examples and guidelines, not hard and fast law as found in the Sharia or Deuteronomy. Islam, in particular, sticks out with me; it seems to set harsh judgements and heavy penalties for crimes and misdeeds easily tolerated by a more merciful view of God and his creation. For example, The Sharia and Rape. This type of law is unreasonable in my opinion, and totally unacceptable human behavior. I think we should protect society from criminals in a merciful way: a way where their own salvation is not only possible, but encouraged. I don't like the death penalty, but I don't mind lengthy prison sentences, even when they are extremely expensive. I think any society which would stone a raped woman to death or give her 180 lashes is collectively guilty of murder and malicious wounding if she somehow manages to survive the lash. We're a rich enough society to bring the worst of our own up to an acceptable standard of behavior without threatening prospective criminals with death.

Some complain at the Christian Bible's inconsistencies and vagueness, but I see these as profound advantages. I think there are multiple correct readings of the Bible, and they're all valid. Like I tell the Jehova's Witnesses that come to my doorstep, Peter and his church (Catholics) are the cornerstone of God's House, but are far from the whole thing. I am content to be a heretical fleck in the mortar.


My brother told me a long time ago that some people fear talking to me because they are at a loss for words to help, and don't want to add even more pain to my life. Pain seems all I have and all I can share sometimes. Physically, I know pain from my wearier-than-they-should-be legs, and a particularly horrific incident in my early childhood that I mentioned five months ago on tis blog: I was a kid running around my parent's house in Texas; I tripped over a doorframe and fell face-first into a brick. My doctors were afraid I was allergic to novacaine, so they did the necessary root canal with no pain relief whatsoever. I didn't cry. Emotionally and mentally, I am in constant war with myself: characters and alter-egos seem bent on tearing down any signs of love and understanding. The doctors can't find a truly totally helpful solution to that, either; I take all the pain the voices have to offer.

As you can probably all see, my greatest pains are self-inflicted. From old football injuries that never fully healed, to the casualties of the ingrown war in my head, I find no greater enemies than my imagination, and no sources of pain that can match myself. That being said, don't shy away from talking with me, or posting comments on this blog. Just knowing someone is out there reading and appreciating my words makes me feel a little bit vindicated in my motives to write this down, and brings me closer to the type of understanding for which I search.

Sit down, have a slice of pain. Observe these ramblings and tell me how you feel. A good conversation distracts me from my problems even more than playing a good game of Warhammer, or watching a good boxing match. Think of it this way: It's going to be very hard to join my collection of pains with bits any heavier than those I've already accumulated. Even if you do share with me something heavier than what I've got, I'm a good listener, and I can probably understand in ways others don't. Don't be wary of sharing with me, just be honest with what you share.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


I've struggled with my demons for over a week now without comment. My mood was surprisingly upbeat most of the week, but I was deeply psychotic for much of it. The disease wears me out. It's a slow grind on my endurance, and it never stops. Hope is always there, but mercy becomes more tempting every day. I don't know how much longer this thing will dominate me, but I grow very weary of it. Sometimes, all I feel like doing is enter the ring, drop my espada and my muleta, and smile at the bull as it charges. I'd be silent, and still, just like Manolete. Part of me knows the imperfect analogy of Manolete's courage to my exhaustion, but equal parts just want peace, even at the expense of the love and understanding I wouldn't even recognize if it were right in front of my eyelids.

Friday, August 19, 2005


I find myself here. I repeat old stories, and relive old battles. The skirmishes in my head are non stop; as Midnight arrives, they escalate. I was fourteen when it started, fourteen. My life didn't even begin before it was over. Now I sit, with the same choices and the same questions I had in my youth. Why? Where is my happiness? Where is my balance? How can I make it all stop? I enjoy the company of others, but those I know seem to distance themselves from me. Apparently, my melancholy is as distasteful to them as it remains to me. I see the future as an extension of the past; it reaches for me with the same inevitable hunger that grabbed me just shy of the mountaintop. Stare me in the hand.

This was the past

The same as the present

A portent for the future.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Call From the Darkness

When I was in high school, I spent many nights outside. The call of Midnight was intense. I walked around in bare feet, sometimes for hours, pacing the street in front of my house. I pusehd myself into exhaustion; it was hard to sleep. Now I feel the same call. Midnight beckons, and I want to start walking. Perhaps it's the danger of high speeds and drunken drivers that just doesn't happen in the daytime. Perhaps it's the fresh air, or the round shapes of nature that don't form lines in my head. Maybe it's just nostalgia from an era when I was happier with myself, when I saw the mountaintop. Any excuse or way out, I'll take right now. The weeping willows and the thin dew on the ground reflect my pain without judgement. No matter what else, it seems I have the approval of the wild spaces and Midnight. I know it's just an illusion, but that illusion is better than my life right now. I can't go back to the place where I saw the mountaintop. Every day, I slip a little more. The darkness and the exhaustion of Midnight call me; I fight hard to stay where I am, but sometimes it feels like the old times when I'm outside. I had promise then that extended past my next dose.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Why Are We Hurting?

A friend wonders why our similar pain won't go away. I posted the following as a comment on his blog; we're both dealing with the same kind of pain, I believe.

I don't understand all of your post, but I believe I understand enough. I built a safe place for my tormentors to believe, and be free from not only retribution from me, but guilt from themselves. Unfortunately, that guilt is easily assuaged; our pain has no such solution. The people who've wronged us and tormented us will be far happier than we will ever be: if we don't build the safe place, they will find one otherwise. To counter the pain for ourselves, a role in their vindication helps on a minor level. In the end, we'll both suffer more. By our kindness and forgiving natures, they will get ahead of us in not only worldly things; they will be closer to their spiritual goals because they carry the lesser pain. It is terribly unjust, but that is the way of the tormentors. They will get ahead. They will have love, safety, understanding, and angrily enough, the moral high ground. They will look down on us and wonder why we're mired in our pain. Some will laugh. It's easier on all levels to be the tormentor, the one who causes pain.

We're taught that forgiving those who wrong us is the best thing we can do as people and believers. That teaching is itself wrong. The easiest and most direct route to the top of the world and the top of the church, at least in my experience, is to be the tormenter of a good person, then use that good person's forgiving nature to rise above guilt. That way you never have to deal with our brand of pain: watching those who hurt us be happy with their perfect lives, perfect spouses, perfect children, and perfect futures on the backs of our forgiveness.

That is the way of the world and the church. We'll never feel complete. The next time you help your tormentors, know that they will feel better, and live better far before you will. The only thing we can do about our pain is to pray and hope that when the Lord sees fit to remove us from our pain-filled bodies in his pain-ridden world, that he does not judge us harshly for our misery. He demands we forgive, so we forgive. He allows infinite chances for the tormentors to forgive themselves, but offers few options to comfort our pain. The worst part of the whole situation is that without forgiveness for our tormentors, we'll never feel better at all.

Monday, August 01, 2005


When I'm deeply psychotic, my sight betrays me. I assemble lines and images where there are none. Things stop being what they are, and become collections of lines, shapes, and items traced between what I see as important points of reference. Sometimes, I let other people know about my lines, but mostly, I move objects around the room to make as few lines as possible. I'd close my eyes, but that's when I see my dancing, glittering angel of pain the clearest: when there's nothing to interfere with her dance.

This concept might be hard to grasp for most people, so I've constructed an example. Below, I display two paintings by different artists, and drew lines and shapes into them as I see them psychotically. The Grunewald bothers me immensely, the Dore not as much. First take a look at the originals:

This is how I see the lines when I'm psychotically incapacitated; you'll have to click on the images to see my lines clearly:

Notice the revolver, the grail, and the equilateral triangle. The blue lines are lines I see that rearrange themselves into different shapes when psychotically reassembled.

This painting bothers me far less. The only shape I see is the equilateral triangle between the two wrestlers. The only psychotic lines I see are the horizon and Jacob's staff.

I don't know what motivates me to find lines in some images, while not seeing any in others. Usually, I rearrange the clutter around me through trial and error so I don't assemble the lines. Sometimes, I can't get away from them at all.

Sunday, July 31, 2005


Today, the meds hit me hard. I could barely stand up most of the day, and I've felt totally sapped since last night. The evil hours after midnight plagued me all this week; I couldn't stand to write here. Every day is pain. Every day is hurt. Somehow, I manage to put on a good act for family and friends, but I can't take much more of this. The days drag on, and I can't tell what's real and what's imagined. My memories get all mixed up almost as I have them. Every day, the shuffle is different. Take this to heart: when I go, when I make my promise, you who read will be the first to know, and you won't be surprised.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


I didn't want to deal with the evil hours of the morning after midnight today; I took three tranqs and my enormous pile of antipsychotics, antidepressants, with a thin little pill to ward off tardive dyskinesia, plus a pepsid to make sure it stays down. Like my doctor said on Friday, "It's not from lack of medication" that my problems continue. I woke up about a half hour ago, checked my email, my blog, and the blogs of my friends. Things seem better for them; it makes me happy. After reading Jaci's blog, I got a little bit of a pick-me-up and decided to make my first entry today not about madness, poetry, or loneliness. I decided to make a wound report. They're healing over, but I think I'll probably get a set of scars when it's all said and done.

Jaci's Blog

She's amazing. If only more people could be like her.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Let me go

Please. They won't stop. I can't get away. There's no rest, no peace, no normalcy, and no end in sight. The wounds on my hand only show the surface. My crow feather of discontent is too damn heavy. I think it's probably about 220 lbs, give or take. I feel like tranqing up and tranquing out. Nothing is safe.


I've decided to tell the doctors everything. When everything turns irreversibly badly, I want there to be no doubt as to my state of mind, and the state of my condition. I'm close every night.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Take Notice

everything on this page, and on this site is copyright 2005 by Thomas Jackson

The Passing Glance

As I passed a bookshelf this morning, I saw:

I don't remember anything about the original picture, but I can gather that it was taken early in Cub Scouts as a Wolf scout. I'm sitting on a fence; I don't remember where. I was happy then, I think. Every day, I walk past this picture and I struggle to remember the happiness of my early youth. Nothing is off limits to my new perceptions. All memories are at hazard. I can't keep anything safe.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

On Trying Not to Read the Koran

I just had an IM conversation with a friend, and the topic turned to Islam. Now I'm sitting here trying not to read any more of the Koran. I don't need the conflict in my head right now. I've read the book before, and looking at it now just makes me angrier. Ugh. Why can't I keep my research focused on weird things like The Questing Beast? Why am I torturing myself by reading again a book that only causes pain to me? I don't want the knowlege this book has to offer, no matter how important it is to know what I know. I wish I remained ignorant in high school. Maybe then I would be able to act without counsel. Now I just fight an uphill battle with ignorance that won't believe in monsters, long leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, no matter how monstrous some people become.

My friend Tarik is not evil. I hope he hasn't read what I read. I pray for him a lot, if only to keep a bit of contact through the haze that's been opaque since high school. Back then I knew many good muslims. I thought their book would reflect well on their manners and easy friendships. Now I read the Ninth Chapter and wonder if they considered me immune or not. The other day, I got called a bigot by a friend, someone I love. I read. I feel. I love. I'm not a bigot. I'm just a confused man who knows too many good people, and too much of the Koran. I don't want what I read to be real, but I'm confronted every day by the evidence at hand. When my friend Tarik visited New York in the late nineties, after the first bombing of the World Trade Center, he said that the security would not let his family take the tour. I thought it was awful. I thought that bigots ruled the world, and that Islam was on equal footing with every other faith. I wish I remained that way. If losing my knowlege of Islam would mean that those that have suffered would not suffer, I would gladly trade it in. Now I just wonder about the ninth chapter and the Immunities. My father was recently offered a job in Baghdad. He was a U.S. Army intelligence officer for twenty years. I read the immunities in the Ninth Chapter to figure out his status. I don't want to remember my conclusion: He would be immune to Allah's protection. He would be next.

I hate my life. If I could be next, and my death meant everyone would see the truth, I'd gladly die. Of course, the question isn't about dying as Christ died. The question is killing how Christ refused to kill at the Garden of Gethsemane. The question is how much do we want to be immune from Allah's protection? We, as Americans, are not often presented the opportunity to die as Christ did. Our deaths would either be meaningless examples of religion gone mad, as interpreted by the liberal press, or our deaths would be ignored by a world that considers death commonplace. I would like to think that three thousand dead Americans is enough blood money to buy worldwide sympathy. It is far too little. Now we're faced with thousands more dead, and ten times that many by our own hand, just to prove that Allah's protection is meaningless.

Now, my vote has to choose: more dead Americans for more blood money, or more dead Muslims to prove their god is powerless. My desire is to be ignorant, because then I could just choose to look away no matter who dies.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Questing Beast

When he was new, I wanted power. I sought power through adopting his ideals: strength, endurance, and willpower. I saw him and I became one with him. He is of me as much as I am of him. The strange beast on the back of my left hand is the result. I can chase him, I can poke his eyes out, and slash his lips apart, but I cannot catch him so others may see the object of my torment. Now, as the chase lengthens and leaves a long shadow on every evening of my life, I cannot make others see him as I see him. This is my best result, as it stands witness to Friday. If looked upon hard enough, the traces of his features are presented in pain.

The mythological Questing Beast eluded King Pellinore for the knight's entire life. It bears the head of a serpent, the body of a leopard, the legs of a lion, and the feet of a hart. It is a product of demonic consort over a jilted woman's incestuous lust for her brother. It appears every so often in Arthurian legends such as Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur as a reminder of Arthur's encounter with Margause. Even the best men can be unwittingly condemned by fate and circumstance to chase glory in the form of a prize, be it questing beast, round table, or holy grail.


I'm close. I don't think anyone wants to see that, but my problems are Legion. This is not about being down, being blue, lovsickness, loneliness, or unhappiness, although I know all those; this is about how far I have to go for peace. I want to tranq up and sleep forever. My every waking moment is laced with suspicion, false information, and an uncanny ability to misinterpret even the smallest bit of my life. Everyone that hurts me gets ahead in life, from Dad to Gary to the rest; everyone seems better off when I'm in pain. A moment or two of normalcy and society would help, but I can't grasp it. I could wait for more information before I make the decision, but what's the point? Doctors will mislead me, family will demand progress where none is possible, and people in general will expect of me acomplishment beyond my now-meager faculties. I don't want to be fed twelve step garbage by people with voluntary diseases like alcoholism and drug addiction. Those programs assume there's a salvagable person and a choice to be made alongside or beneath the substance. I'm all madman. With me, it's never about choices, decisions, or repairing the past. I never had a choice to be sick. I can't decide not to be schizophrenic, and my past is never the same thing twice in my decaying memory. If I hear one more addict tell me to go to therapy, stick with it, and talk it out, I'm going to off myself on the spot. Don't you fools see? There isn't any therapy for this! There's no will strong enough to break it, and no special little program that can make it all feel better afer a few weeks. There are only false hopes fed by doctors, relapses as sure as taxes, just as common but less regular, and lies I feed those around me to avoid the shame of complete exhaustion and defeat.

The only time when I can choose my own destiny is when I'm close, and nobody wants to see that.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

I Can't Escape

It's before midnight, so I'm ok right now. However, they never leave me alone these days. I can't get away from the laughter or the rest. Every thought is pain, every moment is haunted by the hurt in my past. I don't want to be so damn lonely, isolated, and down, but it doesn't really look like I have a choice. Usually, if I'm around people, I can keep it in more, but lately that doesn't even work. I'm tired. I'm so weary of it all. I want love, understanding, and a clear mind; I think those things will always evade me, no matter what.

Am I OK?

"Are you OK?" it's a question I hear a lot. Usually, I give an uninspired affirmative because people in general don't want to hear the truth: I've come to accept life at a significantly lower level of participation and achievement than I did in the past. If I knew in 1997 what I know now, I would have pulled the trigger again. No question, no compromise, just bang. I feel like my doctors mislead me into false hope, while my friends and family ask unreasonable conditions of my continued existence. How exactly am I supposed to tell my Mom that I seriously think about suicide several times daily? My fantasy this week is swinging on a cable wrapped around the I-beam in the basement. The doctors have no idea what it's like to be on the inside of a psychotic mind. Every thought is trapped, and every memory is subject to change and alteration, usually for the worse. I don't feel safe around the doctors; they stuff me full of pills. These pills are toxic; I just want some of them to operate as prescribed. The people closest to me demand that I don't off myself, demand continued improvements in my symptoms, and furthermore demand that I smile and like it. "At least you're not dead" some of them say. Those people don't have to listen to prester Bane, and can be reasonably sure the memories that matter most stay the same, like a first love, a true love, and the first birthday party when no one needed to help blow out the candles. I want to make everyone happy; I want to make the doctors feel vindicated in their prescriptions, but I can't. I want the strength to soldier on, stoically staring madness in the face and not flinching an inch. I want the tools to express myself to where I'm understood, and not so lonely anymore. Unfortunately, the medication proved itself to be ineffective over time, and I've proven completely useless. I don't even have the strength to suffer gracefully. I'm not starving, freezing, or dying of thirst; I have a mental illness. There are people out there who cling to lives less rewarding than mine just to feel the thrill and sensation of life. There are some people who will beg at gunpoint to see tomorrow, and I will beg the same way to never rise again. Tomorrow will come, and I will be no closer to happiness than I was in February 1997, everything I'd call happy has proven to be a lie. The crow feather of my discontent is heaviest in the morning's wicked hours before dawn, and I'm too weary to continue. Take me home, with a pill, or a Luger, or a fall.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Look at Me

Look at me. This is who I am. My eyes are a devil's workshop. Stare me in the hand. Maybe you'll finally see how right I was all along. This is not treatable. This is not a cry for help, or mercy. This is just desperation to be understood. My whole life hurts me; there's nothing it won't touch, and nothing it touches survives. I'm weary and at my wit's end. Stare me in the hand, and maybe you'll find a bit of me. Prester Bane tells me to look beautiful, but all I see is ugly; he has no face, and this evil in my hand has no name. Listen for a while, and you just might hear him beckoning; don't listen too long, or you'll hear too much.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Tiny Voices Grow

Hello our old friend. You should know our names by now. He doesn't want your help, or your love. He only wants our mercy. When none is forthcoming, he will make a promise. Tonight his promise is three tranqs and the will to see tomorrow. Tomorrow always held such promise, didn't it? Tomorrow is today, and he will die alone, we promise.

Friday, July 08, 2005


It started with the dawn: red hanging about white with little bits of blue peeking through the crimson ringlets. I stared into the sunrise, and it took me from my origins in deep water only to leave its impressions on me reaching for the distant sky in a moment already gone. For the rest of the day, I scoured the sky for crimson ringlets and round white puffs. I wrote poems on my memories and examined every cloud for remanents of the dawn; I found nothing. Even the tremble of a superficially similar sunset seemed inadequate. By the time I stopped looking for a red sunrise, I stood in a different moment, as clouds became drawn against the impending night, with only the last hint of artificial red. In the darkness, I blinded myself to the future and the truth: every step trusted the night and only the night. A cool drink of water, and an undying devotion to the directions of the night lead me back to the water's edge. Despite my better judgement, I followed the darkness down into the water; the night promised me its secrets, like a diary or confession in the muted words of a long-kept secret. The phantoms in the night swim better than my battered body; whether they escaped me or I escaped them is an issue for argument and rhetoric, but my hand is empty, my future is uncertain, and I don't know where to begin again. Nothing was real, from the dawn to dusk, to late evening, and the wicked hours of morning before dawn. My imagination seized my common sense, and now I'm back in the deep water, lovesick none the wiser.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


This is the last line I want to write of her.

The Monster Speaks

I hate who I am. Everything around me always turns worse. I had to tear someone down on my friend Jaime's blog. Nik is evil, but I still hate doing this. I don't want to be a monster, but the costume follows me around. Jaime loved him in a way I don't think she can love me, ever; I had to show her his predatory nature. I want to bring her happy news, but apparently I'm good for nothing but verbal fisticuffs. The truth is sad, but the lies are worse. I walk the straight and narrow; sometimes it's harder than it should be.

Why the hell am I crying?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Open Arms of a Drowning Man

They won't let me sleep. All day long, I can work them into exhaustion, but they will not relent. They don't sleep, and when they're loud, I join them.

I shout, do you not hear me scream? No one can hear me scream when my mouth is held shut with twenty-six stitches of regret: one for every year. You doubt me, I can tell. I don't bear false witness to you, but you still doubt. I don't live with you, near you, or like you; how can I expect you to understand?

The open-armed kindness of my friendship and the drowning man of my love work at odds. If you approach, the drowning man will grab you and take us both down. If you sit back, mindful of your own safety, you'll watch me drown with my open arms empty. Nobody wants to hurt me, but that's all they can do, unless they choose to watch. To you all, the best answer for my struggle is just to turn your backs and walk away. It's unreasonable for me to ask you to approach, and it's too painful for you to watch. Slowly, surely, you will all depart. It starts by asking of me things beyond my control. Because I can't meet those conditions, you feel as if I don't try or don't care. I try to tell you that my life is all effort and sympathy, but all that ever seems to come through are my open arms, and my steady submersion into the Sea of Dreams. I'm too heavy, too helpful, and most certainly too kind. It would be easier for you if I just lashed out, and gave you reason to abrogate any attachment to me. However, even I know my love is my most deadly weapon, and my verses are its herald: a herald so loud that I cannot sleep in between the peals of torment that mark my passage down.

Read me, know me, and the pain of my solitude will just prove me right.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


mr. vaughan

stevie ray vaughan
guitar slinger
sold me on the blues
taught me how to cry
he showed me all the sadness
in loving the bottle
and told the whole truth
as best as he could
guitar vaughan

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Red Dawn

The Red Dawn came while I was asleep; I always wanted to be a painter, so I could show the Red in all things, but I lack the talent, skill, and motor skills of a visual artist. Instead, I have poetry. Most of my dawn poems were written to Christine. By then, however, she was just a fond memory. I have only my skill with words, and the guidance of the poets that came before me to show you the Red Dawn that I see. I endeavor to show, not tell. I endeavor to recreate my senses on the page, to show the imagination I once prized. Now, I feel disconnected from my audience. It was easier writing to a memory than writing to you. Readership is sparse and understanding only comes in traces of those sparse grains of knowledge. I don't even remember how to write her; every time I drag out the old verses, I can only see the words. My craft excels now in ways I couldn't even imagine but five years ago. However, I feel like my work doesn't exist. If no one reads, how am I to share? When I destroyed many of my love poems a little over a year ago, I felt like I was liberating my work from the weights that dragged it down. Now, I think I might have betrayed my poems. How can I expect readership and understanding if I clip the best ones out of rage or sadness? Sonnet From the Void remains the only poem that survived the purge of 1998. It also survived in June 2004's round of extinction along with most poems of my epic era. I don't remember how many lines I killed a year ago, but I think it could have been a lot; time will never tell. It seems I have trouble letting go the things that don't want me around, while simultaneously amputating anything that tries to comfort me. It seems easier for me to write the Red Dawn at night for eight unwanted years, easier for me to think only of my Angel of Pain, and easier for me to kill poems whose only crime was recording the limitations of my happiness, than chronicle the steps away from love as freely and truthfully as I chronicle the steps I hope will take me towards it.

Although I've posted this sonnet previously on my blog, it remains the best poem of my youth:


The breath of lions fills the silent air.
I see the plains, the Sun without the sky.
And feel the grass that hides the Lion's lie:
That art from nature canít be made so fair.
He hunts the prey that donít know he is there:
The weaker beasts who know they're soon to die
When spotted by his hungry amber eye.
A thousand yards away they feel his stare.
I'm sitting on the cold and barren floor
I'm kept away from view, and out of light
And as I wander through the open door
A flash across the plains appears in flight
The Lion runs with claws and bony core,
Throughout the day, and gone alone, the night

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Glittering Angel

My Glittering Angel of Pain haunts me tonight, but that's not why I can't sleep. The night calls for me to join the struggle against my waking dreams. I remember when I used to walk at night, singing the verses of the choir in my head. Barefoot, I'd walk until I bled with the same staccato rhythmn flowing through my head. All the words escape me now, but I knew them well in my past. It always started the same:

An advocate
Or an adversary
Tertiary predation
Keeps me alive
With masticated meat

Tonight, it pounds on in a different direction, rolling with the bootheels of my Legion.

"An advocate
Or an adversary
Tertiary predation
Keeps me alive
With masticated meat
I can't feel my feet
Once white, once tanned
Now red, I can strive
For feelings unfelt
My laughter is canned
like an onion in broth on a shelf
Take my pain
And spare me pity
The night again
Eludes the City"

Then comes a pause. It's a long pause that tries to make sense of the darkness, but fails like my eyes. In black and white, I see the night clearly, and this is clearly black. I can't fill this pause with any degree of logic, or run away from its emptiness. My Glittering Angel of Pain distracts me like always, but tonight is made for the pause. If I could see the night in color, the pause would probably be Red. Red is the most beautiful color when the light is better; but in the darkness I prefer the dark Greens and Browns of the forests near my home: they look Black at night, which is the color of uncertainty. Tonight, I wish I could turn away from all light so I can see only doubt. However, tonight on my island in the Sea of Dreams, I can't escape the dawn that chases away my pauses, but I can scream my thoughts through the calling of the night. You won't hear it, but my cry will be "For Wrack, for Ruin, and the Red Dawn!"

Friday, June 24, 2005

John Donne Agrees

by John Donne

I am two fools, I know,
For loving, and for saying so
In whining poetry ;
But where's that wise man, that would not be I,
If she would not deny ?
Then as th' earth's inward narrow crooked lanes
Do purge sea water's fretful salt away,
I thought, if I could draw my pains
Through rhyme's vexation, I should them allay.
Grief brought to numbers cannot be so fierce,
For he tames it, that fetters it in verse.
But when I have done so,
Some man, his art and voice to show,
Doth set and sing my pain ;
And, by delighting many, frees again
Grief, which verse did restrain.
To love and grief tribute of verse belongs,
But not of such as pleases when 'tis read.
Both are increasèd by such songs,
For both their triumphs so are published,
And I, which was two fools, do so grow three.
Who are a little wise, the best fools be.

A Soap-Box for Normalcy

Normalcy evades me. I was seventeen when the doctors told me I had paranoid schizophrenia, but I knew it from fourteen. I didn't even have my first high school crush before my brains were tossed, diced, and mangled: I went from child to crazy person in one fell swoop. Unfortunately, my body never went along with my will. I played football at 135 pounds, and the pain from my many injuries plagues me to this day. Recovering from football and track injuries, my disease set into its most vulgar form; March 25, 1994 is the day that I usually associate with my first psychotic symptoms, but their presence plagued me in less obvious ways for at least six months before that. Once the laughing in my head started, there was nowhere to go but further in, even if only by accident. In 1995, I started writing poetry to satisfy the psychotic urges that replaced the genuine experiences in my life. Quickly, the verses came to dominate my psyche for many years. I wrote line after line after line on love, life, and the psychotic experience. The particulars of these issues dominate me still.

Most people grow normally adjusted to life by my age, but I have not. I left so much of myself on the page and at the wrong end of a pill bottle that I fear I will never achieve the basic successes and comforts in life. When normal life avails itself to me, as it did a little over eighteen months ago when I faced the prospect of dating for the first time, I was so sure that my experience on the page and my blind devotion to my friends and loved ones would serve me well. How could I have been so stupid? I couldn't have been more wrong. When normalcy learns to love, I was learning to write. When normalcy learns to live for life, I was learning to live despite it. It wasn't until recently that I learned the truth of the matter: my youth crawled down my throat and died; I never had an adolescence. I'm built wrongly, I just don't see the world as others do. My senses are warped and shifted to deal with myself and no one else. Everything I see is wrongly interpreted, from the colors of the sunrise until the demons that live in my nightmares. I'm not constructed for a normal life, and I will probably never lead one, no matter how much I want to. Sometimes people like to disagree with me and contend that no one leads a normal life, but they have never seen the world as I see it. Normalcy is not appreciated until it's gone. Even if you listen, but still don't understand, don't let life get away from you like I did. Learn to love; learn to think; learn to live well in the company of others. No poem, talent, skill, ability, or in my case, disease, is worth more than love, life, and community. Solitude and a reason to write didn't save me from myself, or anyone else.

This page, and this site, are copyrighted 2005 by Thomas Jackson, so don't steal it.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The True Air Speaks in its Own Voice for the First Time.

Back in February, I posted a poetic comparison of Nas to Shakespeare, explaining them both in terms of classical meter and rhyme. Some of you might know of a longer piece I wrote originally several years ago called "Stitches." Currently, it stands at approximately 1800 lines. That might sound like a lot, but it's actually quite a lightweight as epics go; Stitches was intended to tell a smaller epic story that keeps a good clip and can be read in one sitting, or read aloud as one piece. From the start, I planned absolutely no epic catalogue. It doesn't matter to me how many ships Thebes sent against the Trojans.

Recently, I decided to vary from its usual technicalities: iambic trimeter in four-line stanzas. I wanted a particular part of Stitches written in a totally different voice for a character named "the aether" that sounds like a trite nursery rhyme with a sinister twist. I wanted an irregular meter across the stanza. The repetition of words that rhyme is intentional, to make it sound sing-songy like an annoying child who is always right, and insists to always rhyme. Perhaps success met me, and perhaps it didn't. Please share your thoughts.

i smell a foreign essence
i've never smelled before
pervading all in sight
replacing the horizon

the sky becomes a cloud
descending down on me
and speaking with a voice
that only i can hear

it says it is the aether:
a voice that's in my ear
spoke loudly in my veins
as marrow in my bones

“the aether lets you see her
and now is your deceiver
take it back
turn it black
the tower won'’t believe her

each moment saved to hear us
is wasted like this chorus
run away
through the day
your efforts often bore us"

the choir slowly chants it,
this song made from my dreams:
red hair, blue eyes, white skin
as music in my seams.

the voices bid me run
but i will dance instead
their chorus tells me stories
of all the lives i've lead

"you shouldn'’t fear the magic
it'’s what can make you tragic
four are dead
in your head
they make a dusty attic

the first death makes us willing
at speeds enough for killing
drive a truck
with no luck
the fate with shears was filling

water seeping medic's eyes
with effort to forget the cries
all crushed flat
bar whereat
the body meets the thighs"

and then the room is shifting
i’m in a different place
where all the lights are faded
and sweat is on my face

i'm looking at the floor
to see an empty jar
my eyes won’t read the label
the pills have gone too far

"with all the pills behind us
without a means to bind us
smiles, they swell
you can tell
their part will never find us

the room is left in shadow
the bathtub is too shallow
for the pain
and the reign
of what you chose to swallow

no burden helps return you
the life you had, still spurns you
pills in haste
have no taste
it weeps four days then burns you."

i slow to make a turn
the impact's from the back
i'm looking at a tow truck
then everything goes black

the EMTs revive me
and lose me just as fast
inside this ambulance
my time has gone and passed

“each wailing siren seems sad
as mourning mothers grow mad
in the night
might makes right
the truck is stronger than Dad

more senseless than the causes
are brief, grief-stricken pauses
this was chance
not a dance
no bandages or gauzes

can stop this random action
of tonnage and of traction
cry for now
you know how
this end is but a fraction"

and then i see a stranger
who mocks me from the mirror
he's sucking on a gun
he swears he's not a killer

each breath he pulls the trigger
but pauses after five
to ask a simple question:
"what odds keep me alive?"

"of all the ways to end this
you chose the quick and soulless
kiss the gun
you'’re the one
so be not death, but genesis"

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I figured out a part of my problem today: I have love in my heart, but no one else wants a part in it. The absence of any love is better than the presence of mine, every time. I can write all I want. People will read; some will see my love. Some might even think fondly of me or my writing, but when verse meets flesh, everything falls apart. People see me for what I am: a love-starved monster worthy of pity or contempt. I can hold my past to the light. I can write about the strong things, the beautiful things, the thoughtful things, but in the end, I'm still a monster. Look at me; see how I've changed. There's nothing left here but pain and solitude. Make no mistake, I am alone. Patmos will read and perhaps respond in empathy. Some of the rest that read, and they are precious few, will protest, and deny my monstrosity. For those I have a simple question: when was the last time you tried to talk with me? Not me calling you. Not me instant messaging you. Not me writing you a poem. Not a letter, not an email, not even one of my kind hellos. When was the last time any of you talked to me first? I tell all my friends, and you know who you are, that my phone is always on for you. I can't remember the last time someone called me. Normally, I might be angry at this, but I'm not. I finally figured it out. I am a monster; it takes too much effort to know me. I should see your silence as a blessing: you're not telling me to shut up and go to hell where I belong.

When I was in high school, undiagnosed, I was happy alone. I need to find that place again, for my own sanity's sake. For eight years, I've fought to make you, any of you, understand. That understanding will never happen. I took three tranquilizers last night, and I slept for a long time. It was beautiful. I think I'll take more tonight. The challenge of my medicated solitude finally presented itself to me. It's very tempting to ease it along. If you're worried about me, don't. I don't make suicide threats. I make suicide promises. This is neither. I'm just coming to terms with eight years of wasted time, effort, and breath.

Monday, June 13, 2005

So close so sad so selfish

I'm close to it. I feel like I could step forward and grab the release. It almost feels like falling away. My arms are in a different place than usual. I tried it your way; that didn't work. I live on pills. I eat on pills. I sleep on pills. That's what I want more than anything. A long sleep that never really ends. How am I supposed to be enthusiastic about this lot? I've tried telling you what and how I feel, but understanding eludes me, no matter how many verses I pen to it. Nobody reads, and nobody cares. Patmos is the only one of you who even tries. The rest won't even observe my movements. If you've listened, and I'm sure you haven't, you should have seen this coming like I do. Don't tell me to relax, or be distracted. I'm here and I am not mute damnit. Each step I take leads closer to the rest. Take this; I don't want it anymore. I'm counting my evening pills, looking at the bottle of tranqs wishing, praying for something else, but we all know that won't happen.


My hope is alive in discompliance. I always take my pills, but I don't want to. They take so much, and leave me with little. I remember the old days, when I was thin, I was strong, I was even beautiful. Sleek and graceful, I stalked through the plains of my unstable existence. Sometimes I think back to the brilliance of those days with a smile. The dawn was red; it knew me like I know myself. Life was a lie, but what a lie! I yearned for understanding, like now. I was alone, like now. However, I wrote ferociously; the limits of my existence were hours between the ecstasies of pain and imagination. My life at least made sense: lonely genius in the corner looking for redemption in the shadows of his pen. Now, what is it? I'm uncovered as the madman in the corner looking for redemption in the bright lights of a keyboard's victims. Examine your screen. How much of it is mine, and how much do you want back? The limits of my existence are the hours between doses, and the ugliness I cover under a belt ten inches longer than it used to be. I'm forced to choose between the brilliance and uncertainty of my past, and the pragmatism and slow decay of my present for my future. What do you want me to do? My hope is only alive in discompliance.

Friday, June 10, 2005


"And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many."
Mark 5:9

I am less of a legion and more of a choir. Instead of singing, we laugh and scream. Between the grand expanses of our songs, we give little bits of dissonance. My favorite is the smallest bit of truth: "you will die alone." When he insists that his solitude is temporary, we rescind and offer other words: "perhaps you're right; we'll be there for you." Like most ideas, there is a little truth in both statements. He will die alone, in the sense that we all die alone. However, I intend to follow him wherever he decides to leave. That's the best part: it will be a decision. Most cling to life for the hope of tomorrow or the fear of the end. He fears nothing and knows no hope: he will let go at the first available opportunity. I'll be there, too, whispering our favorite song "Hello our old friend. I see you've set us free. The forces are in motion."

Until then, we're content to laugh and scream.

sons of midnight

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Like it means something

I write my pain because it's the only thing that keeps coming back to me. I have a set of ankle and knee braces from when I played high school football; they're the last physical traces of those days. The rest of it stays in my legs. That's when she comes to remind me we're all alone together; my glittering angel of pain stays with me while the rest of you distance yourselves. If I tell the doctors about my angel, all they do is send me to more therapy and expand the horizons of my medicated life.

No matter how I try to find a way to escape her embrace, she returns in Red, Blue, Brown, and Green: the colors of my solitude. When I won my game of russian roulette, she was there. She stayed with me through car crashes and another attempt on my own life: I could tell I wasn't dead because her smile greeted me on the other side of a long sleep. I don't understand her motives. Whenever I try to explain her, or share her to make her weight lighter on me, she smiles and grows, crushing me like the mass of my older brother sitting on my chest.

She is with me in my slumber; she shares my bed out of pity because no one else will. Be they lightning pains from ankle to knee, or a slow, warm, aching smile arching through my contorted body, the ways to find her are never far away. She tries to help my madness, my knuckles bear their witness, but she only ends up ferrying me from moment to moment like the rest of you, but she never leaves. I hold on to her because she's loyal; she's not your pain, now is she?

I crawl, struggle, thirst, and bruise for a better way to live, but she seems to be, if not the light at the end of a tunnel, my only lantern in the recesses of my memories. Concealing my angel, I hold out a cold, weary hand, and beckon for help or love like it means something.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Title Fight

I'm tired of fighting. I lost track of the rounds five knockdowns ago. Are we in the twelfth yet? Most in my situation thirty years ago had to fight fifteen, but The Public decided that was three rounds too many. I want to quit on the stool, but you're my corner, and I'll do what you say. You've never steered me wrong before. My problem seems to come from somewhere deeper: I'm desperate to be understood, appreciated, even loved. Nobody wants to know my name. Nobody wants to hear my story. To The Public, I'm just a nameless guy wearing a pair of eight ouncers. The same Public that made it fifteen rounds, made it twelve in the interests of fighters everywhere. I can't worry about their mercy now. I have to decide what to do in one minute. If you send me out, I'll fight. I can't determine success, but there's a point in every fighter's life where one more round is too much. Tell me what the round is, and how many more I have to fight. Which has more dignity, a planned surrender saving blood, or letting the referee count to ten? More importantly, will that matter to anyone?

You're my corner. I trust you.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

If I could do it over again . . .

If I could bury it all, I would
take every morsel of care
every last chance
every first chance
every sideways glance
of hatred or attraction, ‘cause I never know the difference
and every lonely dance
with the songstress on my radio

Crosseyed, I clinch the hand of a phantom
she takes me around corners
in my head, and on the streets
I walk with abandon
and no shoes

"I know" is not "I love you"
no matter how it's said,
or how much I want it to be.
Crosseyed, I clinch the hand of a phantom
she takes me around corners

she hates it when I repeat myself
I know
Crosseyed, I clinch the hand of a phantom

but I want no part of it
the voices in my verses don’t sing!
they preach!
every honey-tongued syllable
clinches the hand of a phantom

Sharing Petrarch

Petrarch is my favorite poet; let me share.

Solo et pensoso i piu deserti campi
vo mesurando a passi tardi et lenti,
et gli occhi porto per fuggire intenti
ove vestigio uman la rena stampi.
Altro schermo non trovo che mi scampi
dal manifesto accorger de le genti,
perche negli atti d’allegrezza spenti
di fuor si legge com’io dentro avampi
Si ch’io mi credo omai che monti et piagge
et fiumi et selve sappian di che tempre
sia la mia vita, ch’e celata altrui;
ma pur si aspre vie ne si selvagge
cercar non so ch’Amor non venga sempre
ragionando con meco, et io con lui.

Alone and brooding in deserted fields
I walk with slow and measured steps
With open eyes so I may flee
From human traces in the sand.
I’ve not found other shields to protect me
From the open knowlege of the public
For anyone can instantly notice my happiness gone
By reading from without what burns me from within.
So now I believe that the mountains, shores,
The rivers and deep forests know the temper
Of my life that I hide from others.
But I cannot seek out harsh or savage enough trails
Where I know Love will not find me
Reasoning with me, and I with him

Friday, June 03, 2005

Long Departed

I wasn't always a monster. I still have a few fond memories of my youth locked away where no one can hurt them. I looked different when I was a little kid; I'm the little trooper in a cub scout uniform below. Somewhere on the way, I got lost. Things aren't as I imagined them to be, and my future looks less like my past every day.


The rest of my old friends
Sit talking at a campfire
As always, I’m detached
And doing something else

They sit for hours chatting,
To swap some crazy stories,
And tell some dirty jokes
That mention me sometimes

While I look at a photo
Of long-departed me.
His soft, small, shiny eyes
Still gleam with inner fire.

My smile unlike others’
Was crooked then, not now.
The boy no longer here
Left little bits and pieces

Behind so I remember
The good times more than bad.
The new became the old,
And each day, life seemed worse.

When happiness meant choices,
I settled for next-best.
I squandered youth away
In waiting for tomorrow:

A day that never came.
Experience has changed me
So much I don’t remember
The photo’s circumstance.

I see a little boy
Whose hair was shorter then.
A cub-scout uniform
Obscures bony limbs

Too weak to bear the weight
Of later years’ abuse
When smiles turned to scowls,
Egos bruised, knuckles broke.

I sit and stare for hours;
I try, but can’t remember
The moment that I changed
And why I didn’t notice.

My past is in this picture.
I stare at two bright eyes
Now foreign to my world;
I toss the picture forward.

The fire’s almost spent,
Its hungry embers lick
The picture off the paper
Which quickly burns and crinkles

We all say our goodbyes
To start the trip back home.
I stay a little longer
And watch the fire burn.


I look quite different now, time and experience changed me. My stare is not my own: I have to share it. My features gargoyled: efforts to change them are pointless.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

My Bounty

My brother beat me as a child. It wasn't sibling rivalry; I never bested him, or even came close. I call it sibling survival. Fighting back just resulted in a worse beating for me. My father thought of himself as a strict disciplinarian, but he wasn't even close. He would come home from a job he hated in the Army to find me beat up and never gave a damn; getting to his liquor cabinet was more important than anything else. If I brought up the issue of my sibling survival or my father's ever-expanding thirst for spirits, my brother would say three magic words: "He provoked me." That was enough for me to get a lashing; If the bruises were small, I might get away with just the belt. If my brother decided to be more liberal with the amount of punishment he dished out or I commented about my father's ever-present inebriation, I would find myself on the wrong end of an extension cord. It was assumed that I would stoically take the lash on my ass, but if I pulled up, the back was fair game to get me back down. My brother got some corporal, but I got a lot more. After a few years of two beatings I didn't deserve instead of the none that the law promised me, I gave up. I managed to maneuver myself into a position where my brother thought of me as an ally against my father. The sibling survival was left alone to fester and occasionally revisit if I made any threats to tell my mom or insisted that I was above beating down any time he damn well pleased.

I've made peace with my brother. He's the only person I've ever known who's allocuted and apologized for what he's done to me. We're on good terms; he's a good friend to me now. My dad had to give up drinking or die early; he chose life. What really infuriated me was the ease with which he gave up the bottle. I grew up assuming that he couldn't stop, that he was a slave to alcohol addiction. Turns out he was just a mean lush. Damn. He could have stopped drinking and administering his brand of punishment any time he pleased. Sometimes if I complained while he lashed me, he would ask me if I thought he enjoyed the lash; I was unsure. I was deluded into thinking the alcohol made him do it, but now I think it was his favorite part of the day. The only time he ever gave a reason for his brutality was a lame attempt at an excuse by claiming my grandfather was even more brutal with him. I asked my aunt about it, and she recoiled in horror; she says nothing ever happened even close to what I went through.

I don't tell this story to get pity, seek revenge, or to simply complain bitterly about my past. I tell this story now to explain my current frame of mind. My brother has a career, a bachelor's degree, a happy life, and is getting married to a wonderful woman. My parents just celebrated their thirty first wedding anniversary, and my father retired from the Army after twenty good years of service. My days and nights are haunted by madness. I'm a headcase, and I've been one for a long time; my situation at home never helped any. Now I've got a materially better life; I'm no longer under the threat of my brother's fists or my father's lash. However, I'm still hurt. The sibling survival and lashes ended when I was sixteen: the same time my psychosis gripped me with no way out. This is what fuels my anger. Just as I began to find a way to live without pain as discipline, and self-loathing weakness revolving around sibling survival, I'm stricken with paranoid schizophrenia. I never had a choice, or a chance in hell. Right now, it seems to me that my life's meaning is pain. If I'm ever in a position to finally enjoy life, my chances for happiness disappear. I went from weaker little brother, to lashed-up victim, to stark raving madman. Growing up, I had a choice of interpretations to explain my struggle: either these horrors were out of my control, or I deserved every last bit of it. The largest part of that choice remains undecided. I still teeter on the head of that emotional pin.

I write to be understood. I hope that someday I'll wake up, and my readers will look at my words without fear, disdain, or pity; I will finally be strong and beautiful. However, this eludes me: my words are weaker and uglier every day I try to write them down. What do I do with my pain? My disease won't let me forget my past; every attempt I make at communication ends in rejection, confusion, and silence. Why bother writing? Every hour I spend writing my poetic missives is one hour my brother spends with the love of his life, and one hour my dad sleeps with a healthy liver. The torture of my words is my bounty for my experience. I'm angry, but it's too early to be tomorrow, and too late to be last night; I'll settle for now.