Saturday, February 03, 2007

Relapse; Sonnet: Not Grief

This is a picture of my daughters and I, from left: Rachel, Sarah, (Papa), and Keturah. I only post this so one can visualize them and perhaps better understand, below, why I stressed myself out so much to see them all in a week, though they are divided by long distances.

Not Grief

Here I repeat myself, relapsed again.
My heart is broken, my limp limbs are lead.
My skull’s a rotten melon. I seek the dead
Whom I imagine are beyond such pain.
But who’s to know? The strangled spirit flies
Out in the ether, desperately alone—
Or joined by friends? Or by old enemies scorned?
Jesus came back but didn’t explain the skies.
I know I am not much. I know my tears
Come at eleven o’clock. I hide them well.
No need for my deaf wife to hear my bell
That cracks and tolls, rehearsing its arrears
To God and man inside a third-rate poem;
Depression is not grief. I have no home.

Before my relapse I knew better, even though I was feeling better. First I had been taking a mild dose of a pain medication from which, when I withdraw, I often lapse into depression. I was taking only half my usual dose and tapered off gently. Still the false endorphins it fed my brain were not replaced quickly enough to arrest a downward spiral.

Meanwhile, while Kathleen went to N.Y. to visit her mother, I drove some 1700 miles to see all three of my daughters and my grandson. My eldest daughter was depressed and in need of my help; my second daughter was in her first long-term relationship and I had yet to meet her beau; and my youngest had just turned 18 and I wanted to give her a gift and take her to dinner. While driving south to LA from the Sacramento area my crying spells returned. Throughout the trip I allowed no one to see that side of me. I refused to be depressed and acted normally. Even today, when the tears hit, I held them back until Kathleen went upstairs.

Complicating these facts was also a mild viral infection mainly expressed in donations to the plumbing.


1) Stressful trip, much too much to take on in my fragile condition, though justified by my daughters’ needs, I thought.

2) Playing with the fire of pain medication, simply inexcusable—though when your mood improves, as mine had, you think you can risk things you shouldn’t.

3) A viral infection, which, though mild, can often re-awaken depression.

The overconfidence of euthymia, or normal mood, thus effectively threw me back into depression. Still there’s some anger about the recurrence, and the attitude that “I refuse to be depressed” seems of some utility because I am not as deep down as I could be. Anger is much better than sorrow in overcoming depression.

Naturally, my relapse interrupts my ambition to speak about poetry more broadly. And having had seven rejections in a row, including contests in which I did not even place, doesn’t help my opinion of my art. To be fair, my art is not best represented by the formal poems I write here as an act of sanity, but by free verse pieces you can find throughout the net.

At two kilorats (-2 on a scale of -10 to +10),




  1. Lovely family, CE. I bet you're proud of them.

    Sorry about the stomach distress, but at least you got a decent sonnet out of the deal. :)

  2. Your daughters are beautiful.

    You gave them all biblical names, yes?

    Keturah is such a beautiful, unusual name. I'd never seen it before. Kind of refreshing to see a name off the beaten path. Does she like her name? An unusual name, in my experience, can be a blessing or a curse for a child. I loathed my name until somewhere in my mid-twenties. Then, for some reason, I finally embraced it.

    Lovely family, sir. You must be a proud, proud papa.

  3. Yes, and they're all six feet or near it; they only look normal-sized because they're standing next to me. Wish my grandson could have fit in. Being with them takes me out of myself. I relapsed on my trip south to the two blonde daughters, but hid it well. No need to burden them with my disease, esp. since Keturah has it as well. Her name comes from Genesis; Keturah was Abraham's second wife. It is also the Swahili birth cry, so I understand. Soon I will visit your blogs, friends, I'm just hard pressed to participate at present. Thanks for visiting and for the nice comment on my babies.

  4. Feeling like I'm on the downhill, myself. I understand the fighting. I understand.

  5. Hi CE,

    Papa with his daughters. What a wonderful picture to have and to share. Just to see it, is to enjoy life for all it's worth.



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