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.