Friday, September 29, 2006

Last Note Before New-Agers Swallow Me

Yes, I'm terrified of this retreat, since my mood has dipped considerably over the last four days, though I have obtained the medication I was missing at some cost-- while waiting for the mail order medications from God knows where that take God knows why so much time to arrive with their postmarks from Cypress or the Seychelles.

In my melancholy I have visions of myself breaking down at the retreat in some happy drum circle and crying uncontrollably. Then the enlightened will surround me and ask me what's wrong. "Bad chemicals," I'll say. They'll ask, "What did you take?" "No, I mean the bad chemicals my brain makes. I'm a manic-depressive." "Oh," they'll say, pitying me without understanding. Maybe they'll suggest an archetype to meditate upon, or lead me to the sweat lodge. All I know is that I was doing well until Tuesday of this week, when I felt sadness over the cost of a lawyer. I was not depressed, I was merely sad; but being still fragile, I started spiraling downward and now here I am at 3 kilorats, trying not to cry as I write. I trust the return of the other antidepressant to my regimen will help, but one can only hope. On a positive note, my younger brother has climbed out of his depression with the help of a good psychopharmacologist, and I can only say, it's about time, good to have you back!

Having nothing but time to kill until Kathleen gets off work and drives me to the campground, I did some more organization of my poems. Out of roughly 600 poems I have 400 published and 200 unpublished. What worries me in the submission guidelines of the snooty journals, like the Antioch Review, is that any online publication of poems is considered publication. I think this patently unfair, especially in the early days of the litnet when readers were few. But as with medical school, the top notch journals aren't looking to accept but reject you. They want a few good poems. It's finding the fly in the ointment that they do; I know, from eight years of editing, how that goes.

Where am I going with this? I want my best poems available for publication, so I'm not sure I should even post them on this blog. Can I have an opinion from a copyright lawyer?

More globally, I feel myself in that stew of hopelessness where I am living the pipe-dream life of a writer while guilty of not practicing medicine, like I should be doing. I can't accept my "disabled" label. It makes me feel so less than. Yet I know this is my bad chemicals speaking; over the weekend Kathleen and I had fun fishing and hiking and I felt happy. Not manic, not in denial, just happy to be. I aim to get back there, but this sputtering depression is driving me nuts. It seems that just as I start to get my head above water someone or something dunks it down again.

I ventilate here simply to continue my narrative and share my fear of the New-Agers, who may prove more scary than the Touchy-Feely Presbyterians I encountered earlier.

I'll post an unpublished poem below. This cannot be considered a publication credit because it is self-published in a blog. That's my opinion, anyway.

At Three Kilorats,



Too Many Voices

I've lost my soul.
Some strange imposter puts on airs,
practices smiles, greets my mailman.
I page through obituaries and yearbooks
and the diary I never kept
but there's no record of me--
so I take a hummingbird's sip
of pear blossom nectar,
spit it out my nose and laugh.

The angels (particularly the obese ones
dedicated to pleasure) laugh mostly, it is their job.
My job is to seek the food of one will,
the drink of one thought.
In my dream I lead the sheep to safety,
only to discover at last, the joke:
they are all wearing my face.
Each time I wake I lose another piece of me.
Out of charity I embrace what's left.
There was too much of me, anyway,
too many demands and too many voices.


  1. Anonymous7:42 PM PDT

    Hi CE:

    S1 seems focused on disembodiment. S2 is more about fragmentation. Two sides of a coin I suppose. Your psychic pain is quite palpable these last couple of posts.

    Best wishes,

  2. Hey CE,

    Love the poem.
    I especially like "practices smiles, greets my mailman." It somehow takes the poem out of the realm of grandiose, philosophical, theoretical sadness and transforms it into the much worse/more moving realm of practical, everyday misery. Although, on a related note, I'm sorry to see that you're in pain and I hope your "camping" experience is somehow beneficial (or at the very least not overwhelmingly creepy).

  3. I love the poem.
    400 published poems. Wow.
    I'm not surprised, I'm impressed.

    Good luck w/ the retreat.

  4. Thank you, all. Sometime last night near the end of the retreat I think the confluence of the bonding there (which I couldn't experience) and resuming Zyprexa (antipsychotic med) pulled my head above water. Today I'm feeling much better, but I know I am still fragile.

    This poem never seemed right to me but I always liked it. I don't know what "the sheep were all wearing my face" means. Reminds me of Eliot's "bats with baby faces" from TWL. But I intuit the image nevertheless. And sometimes you have to leave a poem kind of ragged, with warts and all. This poem is an example of the irrational language of Jungian psychology and also reflects the revolution of the Moderns.


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