Tuesday, August 08, 2006

On the Eve of the Day of the Dead

Here's the next in Sine Wave, after "At the Carnival":

On the Eve of the Mexican Day of the Dead

I did a line of coke this morning and felt strange,
like a glass puppet moving through glass.
Light stung; shadows were razor-sharp dark.
Children’s laughter separated into strands
as they exited school in blue uniforms
carrying orange marigolds home to their dead.

Later I wrote elegant critiques,
my brain on automatic like a computerized monorail.
I didn't have to think while I was thinking,
my fingers typed with their own intelligence,
my commentaries were crystalline.

Is this what death feels like?
Moving without thought like a glass puppet through glass?

Back home in a frozen panic of calm
I begged my wife to make love.
Though I entered her deeply
I could not incarnate myself.
I was clear yet clearly disconnected.

Is this what death feels like?
Well, is it? Is it?

(published in Plum Ruby Review)

This poem contains one of my all-time favorite metaphors: a glass puppet moving through glass. The whole poem was based on that phrase, along with a boost from Yeats' "The Long-Legged Fly." Here the imagined speaker experiences a negative epiphany, though perhaps the poem is unfair to use drugs as a prop for his altered state.


Clinically bipolars are much more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs when they are hypomanic or manic. When you are invulnerable nothing can harm you. In my deepest depressions I've quit smoking and quit drinking without trying, as they were too much effort for no payoff. When the brain changes gears, so does its appetite for exogenous entertainment by means of chemicals.

In 1995 when I was manic not even a six-pack of ale could slow me. The manic brain is very resistant to drugs, as the brain is manufacturing much more powerful drugs than can be had on the street. Some studies aver that one's lithium level drops in mania even while maintaining the same dosage.


Yesterday's post gives me an idea: Why not write 500 words on every poet I've read enough of to have an opinion on what I've read? Thumbnail Critiques. If my mood holds, it's exactly the sort of thing I'd like to do. And Mia of Tryst might have a use for them. I noticed Kristy Bowen and Michii are both in the issue. Congrats!

Next...how about Keats?

Holding at 0.5 kilorats,




  1. I like your idea of the 500 words on poets. Please go with it. I enjoyed your focus on Collins.

    After Sara Kearns' post, listing her 100 (actually closer to 90) favorite American poems, I've been trying to sort through my own list. I'm wanting to blog an anthology of my favorite poems, writing about each poem -- 300-500 words or so. I was thinking about only writing about my favorites that most likely would not be found on someone else's list -- like Larry Levis' “There Are Two Worlds". I've written one and will post it eventually --

    Hope you keep going with yours, CE.

  2. I agree about the glass puppet, and the other glassy imagery as well, the razor-sharp dark, the crystalline commentaries. Very cold and also fragile.

    My best friend is bipolar, interesting what you say about self-medication. I've seen the same thing with her, problem is she's had a hell of a time kicking the stuff after the mania wears off. Then it just keeps her depressed.

  3. 60% of bipolar Is abuse alcohol or drugs or both.

    It worked for my dad for 62 years. Then he killed himself.

    Have you ever had three voices talking in your head at the same time, say you, the Devil and God? And then someone asks a question in the meat world and you go, "Huh?"

    Give us a break on the self-medication. Get the medication right and the person won't have to go there unless they have a separate problem...most cases are admixed, admittedly. (God, I'm beginning to sound like an effin' doctor.)

  4. That's why I hate it when bipolar folks are slammed in news stories for going off their meds. No one stops taking stuff that's working. I've watched the struggle my two bipolars have had -- we've been mixing up meds for several years trying to get everything right.

  5. "Give us a break on the self-medication."

    Did I offend? I was trying to empathize...

  6. Not at all, Twitchy dear. Sometimes I express my opinions too forcefully. I hereby make you an honorary member of the bipolar league.

    And Crazy: the hard part is that a cocktail that may have worked for years can be overcome by the disease, and then you have to go through a trial of various meds until you find the right cocktail again.

  7. I like your idea of writing about poets. They don't get written about enough... unless found by some arrogant university professor.


  8. Love the poem, C.E., the writing beyond the metaphor. I was wondering if that was what life feels like. Is it? Well is it?

  9. LOL! Thanks, Rus. You can join my chorus line of glass puppets but you'll have to shave your legs first.

  10. CE, enjoyed this one. Glass puppet through glass, very nice....

    Interesting essay on BC too. Though I admit, I was among those who thought you were going to skewer him. He's not one of my personal favorites. I guess I'm just not convinced that being the Seinfeld of poetry is enough, somehow. But maybe.


  11. Hey CE! I enjoyed your last few posts.


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