Monday, December 18, 2006

Sonnet: Winter Sun; Money on My Mind

Winter Sun

The winter sun is weak, light without heat.
It doesn’t warm the ravens or the gulls.
They sit on rocks, feathers over feet.
They accept the sun but still, summer pulls.
The sea lions are immune to such decrease.
Their blubber warms them better than a fire
While mice shiver in holes for a surcease
From this icy sun they deem a liar.
Sun should warm, sun should power the earth
With juice-splashed fields and a riot of grass
But the winter sun spawns only a stillbirth--
Why bears sleep in caves to let it pass.
Still, a sterile globe is better than none.
The cruel disk is, after all, the sun.

I want to thank all of you who have shared my journey and, for the last three months, my deluge of formal verse. After church yesterday I think I went down a notch; I didn’t know if I was ready to attend and I wasn’t. My mind keeps circling money for some reason:

“You’re 52, why don’t you own a home?
“You have no retirement plan.
“Your disability income could be cancelled in a New York minute.
“If you managed your income better you could save for the future.
“You don’t even have life insurance for Kathleen. (To be fair, it’s not that I haven’t tried. I have been declared uninsurable. As soon as they read I’m a manic-depressive whose father committed suicide, it’s all over.)
“What will happen in a major illness? Kathleen may need a hip replacement, her hips have been so bad. How are you going to pay for that without health insurance?
“You should be giving more money to charity.
“You’re impractical and will never get a hand on reality.
“No way your Social Security, if it’s still available, will be enough to live on.”
“Maybe you could get one of those cheap trailers in a mobile home park someday if you’re lucky.”

Now some of these thoughts are wise and necessary; what isn’t is to have them circling in my head every time my mind is not occupied with something else. In my natural, non-depressed state, I don’t worry about money. In my depressed state I can’t keep it out of my head. And there’s nothing to do about it now. This is Christmas month, after all.

I don’t want to share more than one obsession a day so I’ll quit here.

Kathleen is suffering terribly from a degenerating disk in her back. She spends most of her time in bed to relieve the pressure. Other than securing pain medicines for her, there’s nothing I can do. I know the disease Oh so well. But it doesn’t help my mood to watch her suffering.

At 1 Kilorat, maybe more, I’m confused. (That’s a -1 one on the mood scale for any who haven’t read that portion of my blog concerning Roger Dier. And for most people it would be more like a -3 or -4; my ratings are higher because of all the depressions I’ve endured.)

Thine as ever,

Craig Erick


  1. I like this sonnet. Alot.

    I tripped over surcease. Never, or thought I'd never seen that word before, and yet when I went to, lookie lookie at what I found under the references in classic literature (which is why I love

    "Eagerly I wished the morrow;--vainly I had sought to borrow From my books surcease of sorrow--sorrow for the lost Lenore-- For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-- Nameless here for evermore."

    So, I can't help but wonder if you used that particular word as a kind of nod to Poe's raven.

    If it's not too personal a question, was your father also bipolar? Anyone else in the family diagnosed as such? How old were you (and was he) when he committed suicide?

    Years ago, I had a friend/roommate whose mother was bipolar (this just popped into my head--I haven't thought about her in the longest time) and possibly schizophrenic (can you be both?--or in states of extreme mania, might one hear voices?) and her mother shot herself in the head one morning in December after her husband had left for work and the kids had gone to school.

    My friend came home from school and found her mother's body.

    I wonder if sea lions get depressed.

    I heard the other day that the polar ice will be gone in 40 years. It's hard to imagine a world without polar bears.

    Ah, I guess all the wild places will be gone by then anyway--no more tigers or bears or elephants.

    Guess I'll shut up now and repeat:

    I liked your sonnet, sir. Alot.

  2. Anonymous10:00 AM PST

    Nice sonnet, CE. Obviously your comment form is working, from my end anyway.

    Bleak and spare, the essence of endurance, both your sonnet and your life, and our lives. When we ask ourselves why we endure, that's where the god-thing takes root, in the mystery of endurance. Purpose must fill the gap. The most inscrutable gods command the heap. Our confusion makes them the most authentic.

    I don't know what I just said. I'm a rhetorician not a wise man, easily beguiled simply by the sound of words.


  3. LKD: My father committed suicide at the age of 62 when I was 33 and had just been released from forty day's incarceration in Connecticut for mania. As the only grown child who lived in Southern California, I had to make all the funeral arrangements--while I was still psychotic. Both my paternal and maternal grandmothers were bipolar, as well as several aunts on my father's side and multiple cousins. One of my daughters is bipolar I, the other bipolar II, and my sister is a II also; my younger brother is mainly a depressive but has evidenced occasional hypomania in my opinion and he does not deny it now.

    I'm so glad you liked the sonnet. My severest critic, Kathleen, thought it disjointed and that "A Question of Faith" was much better. So hearing from you and Norm is a great tonic to this man who thinks, in his present state of mind, that he can't write poetry, at least acceptable contemporary poetry, so he just slogs on out of habit.

    Yes, Norm, it's always the question of meaning that spurs us to the spiritual. If there is no meaning in suffering, we are truly fucked.

  4. Good poem CE. These lines are remarkable:

    With juice-splashed fields and a riot of grass
    But the winter sun spawns only a stillbirth--

    The last two lines are perfect. Thanks for posting it.


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