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.