Thursday, January 28, 2010

3 Kilorats

I need to blog to straighten my head if nothing else.

My honey of over ten years in is NY with her mother for the matriarch's 95th birthday. Wish I could be there but was just there in October. She's such a wonderful lady, ambulatory, sharp and independent at 95. I don't want to live that long unless I can be as healthy as she. But as an overweight ex-smoker with borderline diabetes and high blood pressure, not to mention being a male, the odds are slim. Nevertheless happily married men live longer; then taller men don't live as long, which goes against me. Still, the average lifespan of a bipolar I is under fifty years, and I have that beat, not to mention my dad's 62 years, which I must outlive to be more successful in the same genetic field.

As those of you who have read my poetry know, he committed suicide. Here's one of my better poems on the subject:


Dad owned an Eskimo mask
carved of brown whalebone porous as lava,
whose Mongol lips curved in a knowing smile
above the fireplace—aloof, I thought,
to the Russian novel we lived.
Icon or eyesore, it marked his territory.

After our home was re-decorated
the mask’s pitted face was hidden
between prints of red-hued harlequins
meant to marry the lemony walls
to the crimson shag
of the newly cheerful family room.
The living room, with its wall-length mirrors
of smoked glass marbled with gold,
its crushed velvet sofa and floral chairs,
had been reserved for cocktails.

In his last home the mask was mounted
under Plexiglas next to the wet bar
facing Mom's candle snuffer collection.
We didn't know Dad was running out of territory
until the whiskey quit working
and he sealed himself in his Lincoln
and I got to compare fixed smiles.

(Published in now-defunct but formerly respectable journal--this happens a lot in the poetry world--credits must be listed and re-listed according to survival.)

I'm at about 3 Kilorats today, but only because I know I'm suffering bad chemicals. I repeat to myself: "Christ has healed my manic-depression! Christ has healed my manic-depression!" through tears, full well knowing that in real time it is not so; still, I believe philosophically that in Christ all are healed.

I'm thankful for the Apostle Paul, who mentions an illness in II Timothy that God will not heal. I'm not the only Christian for whom God thinks enduring illness is superior to its healing, though recall when Christ walked the earth he regarded all illness as evil and from the other side.

It is irrational. But it is not. If God became a man and suffered with us and for us, why can't I claim ultimate healing in the name of that? Surely there is no other history or philosophy on earth as open to the healing and redemption of humankind.

I've had four poems recently accepted by two magazines, as well as four published in an anthology. I'll post the links later.

Want to hear about a strange mercy? Walking the dog on the headland today there was a plague of ticks--and slapping them off me and later, combing them off J. stopped my weeping. I know people around here who've had Lyme disease and it's no laughing matter. Another example of how real fear trumps bad chemicals; a tiger would have gotten my mind off myself as well. Or a broken leg. What my chronic back pain sometimes does, take my mind off of the emotional darkness. And here's a poem on that:

Failed Back Syndrome

It's when I'm feeling best
my back hurts most
because the usual drama
has been interrupted.

Because only my back hurts
I can ignore the fluttering
of the porch light’s pulse
full of suicidal talk.

Just to notice my pain
means silence in the zoo
where sorrow’s monkeys chatter.
What relief to have that noise

recede into my umbilicus.
God bless the body’s suffering,
so mild when compared
to the heart’s ravishment.

At least in my poems I have a record of struggles. Art should enlarge one's emotional and imaginative experience while extending compassion in the bargain. Hard to do in a poem. I keep trying. (Then one should never say, "Art should this or that.")

Never give up.

I try hard.

Manic-Depression is a bitch, but it's just bad luck, period. Faulty DNA. Chalk it up to evolution's stuttering strides.

3 Kilorats,

Craig Erick

1 comment:

  1. It is, indeed bad luck, and it is a mean illness, seems to raise its ugly head when things are going so well...but it won't get you, pal...too many people are praying it won't...not to mention that J Alfred who, along with Kathleen, are the better and sweeter than any meds they've come up with yet, and need you to keep them free of ticks.

    Stay out of the broom! It is full of them now.


    PS Know you are a doctor, but passing on a local's advice for the nasty tick bites we get here...soak a cotton square in witch hazel and tape it over it immediately after removing the'll still itch a bit, but not get so inflamed. Works for us. : )

    Hang in there, Craig.



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