Friday, August 11, 2006

You Want It? Explanation of Kilorats and Kilobunnies

OK, people, one in particular, keep pestering me because they don't understand the mood scale that you and I have discovered on our travels together. But for the sake of the uninitiated, here is the full scale, and remember that the scale is linear, although properly at the extremes it ought to be more logarithmic. Rats or rabbits, that's the question.

Normal mood = 0, or rodent neutral.

Kilobunnies measure relative mania.

Kilorats measure relative depression.

Kilobunnies +10 down to +1.

+10) You are Jesus and you had it all planned that the police would put you in handcuffs and strap you face down on a hospital gurney, here comes the shot of Haldol. But you're in total control, it's all part of the plan, even your royal humiliation. (You're madder than a March hare on hashish!)

+9) You suspect you're Jesus. You use your secret powers secretly up to the appointed time. Hawks follow you and perch on the lamp post above the driveway at all hours. You carve your hedge into an oriental dragon. You cash out your retirement to start a sure-fire business you know nothing about. You sleep less than four hours a night.


+2) Begins two projects at once. Needs one less hour of sleep. Driving a little faster on the freeways.

+1) More talkative than usual.

Kilobunnies (+)

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$**rodent neutral**$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Kilorats (-)

-1) Don't really feel like going to work today. Everything looks kind of gray. Feel better after you start working.

-2) Sleep disturbance. Fitful dreams. Decrease in energy. Less time spent out, more at home.


-9) Responding to the questions of the man playing doctor is so much work, so much work to open my mouth. I will curl here, on the floor, to shield my body from the critical faces that look down on me with scorn, and deservedly so. They are far too easy on me. I should be executed. That would be just.

-10) Catatonia or complete withdrawal from the world into one's impersonal personal black hole; in rare cases waxy flexibility may occur where one can move a patient's limbs about like a mannekin.

This scale was derived from an astute analysis by Dr. Chaffin of the Petaluma Rat Man's case, one Roger Dier. If you're listening, Roger, we love you!


Now for today's selection, a poem at about 5-7? kilobunnies (it's hard for me to measure my work).

It (II)

Does it blister your eyes to read it?

Does it sink like a dental filling into your marrow,
touched by a spray of cold air?

Would you trade it for enlightenment? For gold?

Will it sing you to sleep like your mother did,
who was too shy to sing with the lights on?

Would you love it if it didn’t look like you,
if it had gills and fur?

Is it better than drugs, would you snort, inject,
rub it into the capillaries of your lip?

Would you recognize its sound,
whether a night bird screaming in the jungle

or the distant, ironic chill of a train whistle
beside the Iowa silos bent like toothpaste tubes

above the too-green, knee-high cornfields
while Judy Garland waves good-bye?

You want it? Go get it.


I don't know what this poem means, but I know where it's taking me--toward Sehnsucht, a heartache for Kansas, that Romantic longing for perfection associated with the bliss of early childhood--your one true love, the shiny bicycle of your dreams that arrived on Christmas, your ultimate hope, salvation, whatever calls you on toward that which cannot be achieved in this world except by the imagination.


Still at 0.5 kilorats.

"Better than Roger, at least,"
I can say with intimate irony.

Chasing the blues away,



  1. Not knowing "what this poem means, but I know where it's taking me" may be the greatest gift that poetry -- the muse -- can give a writer.

    I especially like the knotted phrasing of the poem's second half.

    A wow to

    the distant, ironic chill of a train whistle
    beside the Iowa silos bent like toothpaste tubes

    above the too-green, knee-high cornfields
    while Judy Garland waves good-bye?

  2. Sam, you're such a nice fellow that if you ever bad-mouthed a poem of mine I would have to re-align my universe. Just remember I can take the tomatoes, too.

  3. Umm... I like it.. and I don't have any rotten tomatoes in the fridge. SO there.

    Loved your explanation of the scale... (wonder if 100 mg. prednisone put me on the 10 kilobunny)

  4. Sam is nice, isn't he? (grin) Seriously, he never has a bad or negative thing to say about anyone's poems ever. His positivity combined with his careful reading of my poems, your poems, everyone's poems heartens me. It bouys me that such people exist in this world.

    Thanks for the explanation of bunnies and rats. I had misunderstood bunnies as being merely a good or positive mood, not mania. Is mania good? I had a friend years ago who was bipolar and christ, he was fierce, really focused, um, manically so, ha ha, when his mood was surging up, up and away. He could move mountains during his manias.

    I like your poem, sir. I like that you don't know what it means. I was going to ask if Dorothy, I mean Judy, might be waving hello instead of goodbye.

    The silos as bent toothpaste tubes is inspired.

    Good morning.

    And yes, it is a good morning. Cool and breezy and sunny. So cool that it feels like fall. Summer is almost over. Hallejuiah.

  5. Finally I understand the scale! And I enjoyed your explanation (I bet you enjoyed writing it too).

  6. Good, now we're clear.

    I would say normal mood goes from a -2 to a +2, although that's cutting it kind of close, but at 2 Kilorats you're still schlepping 250 lbs. of rat food once a week.

    Laurel, up to three kilobunnies can be roughly normal mood, on the cheerful side, certainly, a spring in your step at the least, but by 5 you transition to hypomania and by 8 you have mania. On both sides 8 is the mark for psychosis. That it is infinity stood up was not planned.

    Mathematically I'm not satisfied, so let it be an imaginary yet practical scale.

    If you have two or more kilorats, you really should talk to a friend. If you have 4 or 5, you should talk to a doctor. No more precise than that.

    Also, mood means more than one day. It means at least one week at nearly the same level.


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