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?

GUILT-FED MISSIVE TO MY LEGION OF READERS

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
way

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

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

1 comment:

Patmos said...

I am not sure how to respond to this post.

The word... WOW.... Is not even fit, to put on this comment thing. Just amazing, and I don't mean amazing as in the simple word Amazing, but in the word... Amazing.

It has been awhile my friends sense we have talked, it is not my fear of you or having become bored. It is, just the life of one that is busy and also there is not a computer that is available to me at any moment.

With much appreciation for who you are, Patmos.