Canto III

          [21]

How does this make more sense if thought an illusion?
Does not the mind betray some tremendous power
To deceive? Wherefore reality is but a
Collective delusion to which we all concede?
The autocrat answers: There is no spirit world.
There is only this world of the material.
Your mind grew frenzied in a rather manic state,
Possessed by the power of abnormal thinking
Which is nothing supernatural; simply mental
Processes run amok, scrambled and lit ablaze.
A break with reality; not awakening
To deeper understandings which do not exist.
Implications of the event still resonate;
Continuing to perplex. Terrifying my
Frazzled sensibilities only three years on.
Behold the diagnosis: schizophrenia.

               [22]

Mom was very relieved with this development.
Not to say that she wished that I would be found ill
But more her own illness has convinced her of the
Consensus that some people are just born unfit,
Unlucky inheritors of a faulty brain.
The diagnosis will enable me to claim
Disability which would simply make me less
Of a financial burden on my family.
I know the right thing to do is to be stable
And healthily contribute to society.
But how exactly am I to reconcile
Such folk wisdom with the dearth of empirical
Evidence suggesting our system is corrupt.
To be ‘stable’ is to be complicit with it.
As Randolph Bourne says “War is the Health of the State!”

               [23]

To be true to my principles; fighting against
The slow coil of the Totalitarian
Serpent. Is that my fate, to be condemned, crazy?
Already I’ve traded the pretensions of one
Form of creative expression for another
On the advice of 白森 suggesting that I
Transgress these traditional borders of fiction
By composing my thoughts exclusively in verse.
Alexandrines to be exact (which smack of kitsch).
Driving the wedge even deeper between us, too?
Can I expect modern readers to understand
A stubborn, lone poet’s self-imposed dilemma?

               [24]

What else is there to do but sit around and write
Poetry all day? Well, for starters you could get
A job, however, please refrain from resenting
Those who do not take into account you have to
Scrape along the bottom, carrying around a
Criminal record; and how that means I always
Have to supplement welfare checks with illicit
Income, as not only the record but also
My diagnosis will forever guarantee
That I am fit for only menial labor—
Eternally part of a kind of easily
Exploitable subterranean working class
For about as long as the past remains the past.

               [25]

No wonder I am so obsessed with those events.
A journey that begins in Athens, Ohio,
A college town as well as a paranormal
Nexus that still holds great significance for me.
With its natural beauty, nestled in the rugged
Appalachian hills awash in rich autumnal
Shades come Halloween. Crunching leaves under your feet
In the crisp air walking down its cobble stone streets,
Simultaneously drawn to its idyllic
Façade; its more sinister aspect underneath.
Wallowing in dejection, with all of this time
To fill my notebooks with scribbly poetics,
One might as well pontificate on the subject.

               [26]

Like countless other narratives I’m sure you’ve heard
So often as to be hammered into cliché,
This story kicks off with having met a lady.
She’s not the central figure of this tale of course,
Such role as that’s been reserved for Melanie Watts,
My cosmic mate. However before I’d met Mel,
Along the way I fell in love with a dancer
From Chattanooga, Tennessee. A real bombshell
With a ballerina’s body, delicate though
She was not; rather she liked to drink whisky neat.
As you can probably imagine she was not
Only the girl of my dreams; many other guys
Swooned over her too. A fact never lost on her.

               [27]

At that time I was hiding an open secret,
Source of shame and embarrassment for most young men—
Being still a virgin beyond one’s teenage years.
Commonly most will tend to this plain fact of life
From one of a few slightly different perspectives,
Turning either the profane into the sacred
Or the sacred into the profane. Fashioning
Out of our basest impulses something wholly
Important; or excluding the miraculous
From any aspect of human reproduction.
Eager to get things over with; or overly
Concerned with presupposed, cosmic significance.
Having fallen under the spell of the latter
I would succumb eventually to the former.

               [28]

Oscillating around these two polarities
Assumed irreconcilable with each other
For so long as to be driven to their extremes
Broke me through this dialectical thought prison.
But back to that whisky drinking ballerina
From Tennessee. Speaking in general, I found—
In the same way that women tend towards older guys
Also, they would rather not sleep with a virgin—
A tendency which is perhaps reversed in men.
It’s as though, older girls have a sixth sense about
This; no matter how sophisticated one may
Try to act, nothing quite betrays the pretense more
Than awkward hesitancy to boldly advance
According to the insights of experience.

               [29]

Due to my archaic sense of the chivalrous
She was forced to take the initiative with me
At a frat party. I believe she was dating
Some frat guy then; who must have done something to piss
Her off. For in a moment, wondering alone
To the bathroom, she was following stealthily;
Snuck into the Men’s and locked the door behind us.
Now some advice for the romantically inclined.
Never risk looking beautiful girls in the eyes—
Especially if you just took some LSD.
This will result in a tremendous belly flop
Into the cosmic swimming pool with Penny Lane
From whence forever you will be stung by beauty.

               [30]

Enamored by the loveliness of existence—
What up until then might have seemed cold and random
But which now dressed in plumed rays of mystical light
Warmly suggests a true dominion of romance
Will as well, deceive the seeker in attraction,
By mirroring the impatient desires of youth.
Any implication of future transcendence
Failing in the grand hallucination of things
To manifest in an apparently true way
Later fuels the wit of cynical adulthood;
Thus an ironic prescience of naiveté
Becomes empirical wisdom in retrospect.
Such was the extent of my first major error;
Ascribing cosmic significance to dumb love.

               [31]

Come to think of it much could be attributed,
Both profound foibles and mundane epiphanies
Alike to the visionary experience
Produced in no small part by psychedelic drugs.
I’m submitted to precisely the opposite
Now in the dreary form of these officially
Authorized pharmaceuticals purported to
Regulate my brain by enforcing clarity
Through fog. Suppressing what’s considered abnormal:
An intelligent, sensitive human being’s
Propensity to imagine this world apart
From the prescribed, nightmarish, televised version.
What I fought, sadly, in vain to rebel against;
Reduced at last to this schizo prone to flashbacks.

               [32]

A most obscure event triggers an episode
Essentially running over the very first.
Schiz’s with a mind like mine see connections where
They shouldn’t be, all thread into a tapestry
Unfurling around spools of heightened perception.
These designs are in the first, second, third instance
Overwhelmingly significant to behold
Yet overnight, so just as monumentally,
Sought out within Troy, Ohio, this vision flipped
Irreversibly towards the apocalyptic,
Consciousness increasingly darkening in hue
Dying the once transcendent thought in occult shades.
Wedding infinity with rings of damnation;
Will with a perpetually smoldering flame.

               [33]

It is the fatalistic dimension of life
Compelling vacuity to consume beyond
An insatiable fill; that desperation in
Needing to mingle one substance with another
Craving a cigarette, sex or just a shower
A meal, a bed or a friend’s sympathetic ear.
These fundamental addictions of survival
Frighten by their mere irreducibility
Fueling as much the will to life as flight from death,
Rendering all living beings conspirators
Undermining any terms of coexistence.
One may brand such opinions as crazed and bitter.
But at least I can express some lucid thoughts still.
Anyways enough rambling. Time to take my pill.

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