I find that people have two, dare I say, polar opposite reactions to my negative behavior, knowing my bipolar diagnosis. On one side you have the Raving Randys, the no-nuance gang of "all bad behavior is bad behavior, period" crowd. On the other side are the Understanding Olgas, the folks who contextualize my behavior within my sickness, "That's bad, but I see where it comes from." Contextualizing, over condemning or justifying. There is a crowd that wants to give me a pass for all my negative behavior, an unnecessary & dangerous proposition. I'll say something inappropriate or not show up for three days, totally not in a mood swing or bipolar episode, & they'll just decide, "Ah poor guy, free pass!" totally letting me off the hook for simply being an asshole.
Once, my parents, my ex-wife, & I were getting in the car to head to dinner. I had forgotten something inside, so I hopped back in to grab it. On my way out, I had some song in my head, so I started air-drumming. My mom leaves over to my ex-wife & says, "I can't tell when he's having one of his spells or if he's just being weird."
My buddy CM, a neurologist, said he learned in med school that many bipolar folks don't finish projects, too energized by their mania to focus or too bogged down by their depression to follow through. He noted my organizational skills. I think it is a copy skill, not a character trait. I have a trail of unbusinessed: all my jobs, two divorces (of what I would call good marriages), etc. I think it also relateds to me being "okay" at a bunch of things--drums, cooking, handyman stuff--never getting my 10,000 hours in to be great, mediocrity as a form of unfinished. Instead, I've made a practice of planning so that I don't get swirled up in my manic energy or sucked under the weight of depression. To put that energy to work, I must have a plan.
I relistened to John Lockley, sangoma (a kind of shaman) on You Made It Weird w/ Pete Holmes today. From the moment I heard this episode a couple of years ago, I felt a kinship to John's journey. Born in apartheid South Africa, he was a white guy drawn to the indigenous coulture, fiting in neither spiritually in his white culture nor racially in the tribe that later adopted him. He was very sick, lost in the dream world, ravaged by his unfulfilled calling as an emapth, a wounded healer, a sangoma. It is often how I feel in battling this bipolar disorder, stuck with all the traumas & feelings & confusions, both my own & others, & it literally makes me very ill. Right now, I'm focused on doing what he says, to connect to humanity, moving beyond just being a human. He says we must lead with our wounds. My illness, my losses, my connections to the dead--these are my wounds. How do I begin to be my sbest self with those at the forefront?
My view on my ex-wife D leaving has been shifting lately, as I process my grief, understand the dynamics better, & find hope in the future for the first time in a long time. Right now, I'm in awe of the bravery & commitment leaving took of her. Her house, her dog, her husband, her plans, she felt the danger grave enough to leave all that behind.
I've been realizing, at least with mental illness & mental health pitfalls, it is really hard to see how sick you are, make judgements & adjustments, & get better while you're in the midst of the sickness, which, I know, sounds like a hopeless statement. Simply, it is hard to tell how sick you are when you're sick. When I'm in extended episodes, I cannot see hwo irrational my choices are, hwo hurtful my actions are, how counterintuitive all of it is to getting well & feeling safe. Instead, it isa fake-out blur where everything I do seems right within the heightened moment. That's why, when stable, the thought of possible episodes & the recollection of previous ones is so scare & embarrassing. No one likes being out-of-control!
Meditation has proven itself a useful tool for dealing with my impulse control problems. Whenever I feel a charged action--argument, sexual activity, random purchase--coming on, I take a moment to find my break (my anchor) & start letting the thoughts sift. There, in that head space, I can view the impulse as an object separate of myself, able to decide if it is a positive or negative behavior in line with my values & needs.
Seven years ago, I felt on top of my own little world. I had just moved to the Big Cool City with my awesome girlfriend. My first poetry manuscript just got snatched up by one of my favorite small presses, & I was a few months from being accepted into my dream MFA program to study with my favorite poet. Also of that own little world was a secret that I’m still, these years later, only beginning to understand, to articulate: beginning in my late teens / early twenties, my inner life had become rampantly twisted with the dissociation, irrationality, unpredictability, & chaos I was being noted for capturing in my poems.
That spring, that psychological turmoil would intensify, leading to one of the ugliest periods of my life, actions & abuse that the aforementioned girlfriend chronicled a couple years later in an online essay, now missing from the internet. Since then, I admit I have continued to flounder, blowing opportunity after opportunity, ruining relationship after relationship, lost in a swirl of misdiagnosis, counterproductive medication, & increasingly volatile symptoms. In this last year, following another tumultuous winter of hurt & dischord, it has been revealed that I have been battling bipolar disorder all along (bipolar I, severe, with psychotic features, more specifically). The inexplicable mood swings, the memory loss, the paranoid & delusional behavior, the impulse control issues, the engulfing episodes: the picture is finally becoming clearer.
Still, I believe I must take responsibility for what my mind/body has done, does, is capable of doing, both good & bad. Many of you have been affected by similar moments, either first-hand or from others, of my switching, collapsing out of this normal-guy self into a persona fueld with unreasonableness, confusion, & sometimes, aggressive outbursts. Here I wanted to write, not to justify what has happened, to you or to others, but within the necessary contextualizing, to offer my remorse to you. I finally feel like I can speak properly to all that has happened, with me literally feeling like a different person than the person that hurt you, one properly diagnosed, medicated, & managed.
Over the last decade, in one way or another, because of my erratic behavior, I've lost you, the receivers of this letter. The big question for me now is how does forgiveness fit into this baffling predicament? I gained much wisdom from Robin L. Flanigan’s essay on BP Hope about bipolar & forgiveness, now on my own journey of learning to listen. Where once I wanted to write as a means to plead my case, I’ve come to the place where I can be here for you, your feelings, your questions, & your answers.
Flanigan’s other tips--to forgive oneself & to not overshare--have been other struggles I’ve been battling these last couple years, opting to record my frantic bipolar life in a public space in the face of self-harm & deep grief, as a means of accountability & forward momentum. It is why I keep this blog; it is why I have these conversations on my podcast. Please know these attempts to catalog my experience, process my thinking, & to reach out here aren’t intended to disrespect anyone’s experience or cause more pain.
I hope it can actually be about healing, in search of peace & security, a way of "coming to terms with things as they are," as Jon Kabat-Zinn defines it. In this effort towards openness about my struggles, my remorse, & my hopefulness, I am presenting myself to you now, all my baggage included. This is all to say: I see you. I know I’ve hurt you (&/or someone you love). I know I haven’t always handled this well. I’m truly sorry.
Please, let me know if you see a path to forgiveness, to closure. If you would like to have a private conversation, to receive a personal apology, I would be honored for that opportunity. If a public discussion feels more necessary, we can do that on the blog or the podcast as well. If you’d like to stick with the separation, I totally respect that & will leave you be from now on. Anywhichaway, out of respect for our past & the pain I’ve caused, I promise to continue to grow as a manager of my own dysfunction. I want to utilize these stable moments to be my best self; right now, this is how I know how.
With All The Love I Can Muster,
How are we all not constantly asking for forgiveness? All day we're just walking around farting & cutting in line & dropping stuff & forgetting things & being rude. It's really quite shameful.
I've been having sleeping problems ever since a drunk friend of my parents, having found out I was having a tough mental health week, showed up randomly at my house, demanding to be let in right in the middle of an episode cycle. Her boundary breaking has left me very paranoid at night, prone to delusions & hallucinations. It takes me about ten to twelve hours to get a decent six hours of rest. I am trying a better evening routine--less late night food & electronics, evening meditation session, melatonin gummies--but there is an imbalance with my sense of safety. Reason number 14,763 why I miss living with DS: I hate sleeping alone.
I was relistening to Maria Bamford's incredible stand-up special from this year, Weakness is the Brand, & the last bit is about saturation point, a concept where emotions of a moment get too high, ensuring further escalation & possible damage if the person continues in the confrontation. I was thinking about how this relates to my anger outbursts. I erupt because I've hit that saturation point, much quicker & much more intensely than others, often without warning or obvious trigger. I have to be even more proactive & attentive. It is probably why I have a very low tolerance for bitching & bickering. I need to concentrate!
I had a long chat with a lawyer the other day about my appeal for disability benefits. In the wreck of fluoxetine hypomania, COVID sinking in, my new diagnosis, & DS's leaving, it felt impossible to work, to string together six to eight hour chunks without dangerous symptoms. Up till this week, I carried that feeling, which translated into the case he was going to build, that I couldn't hold a full-time job because of my disorder. Ultimately, I decided not to pursue the case, because white it might be true now, it certainly isn't the goal & doesn't seem like I'll be long-term disabled in that way. I'd rather put that effort into getting well, baby steps towards being my version of an independent adult.
I realized yesterday that I over-corrected intense emotions--anger, sadness, joy, fear--in response to their uncontrollable appearance in my bipolar episodes, almost banishing them from my "normal" life." I think a huge part of 2021 will be allowing these normal feelings back into my emotional range, building trust with myself to not fall captive to spells, going overboard.
I sleep in a twin bed now. My wife left & I couldn't stand that big California King. I am not a California King. I am just a lonesome Hoosier with too much bed. So, I just said, fuck it, & started sleeping in the twin bed in the spare room. My twin, in case you were wondering, is my grandpa, who died in this same bed a few months ago. But don't worry, I washed the sheets!
Sometimes I worry I've read too many poems to be a normal person!
Yesterday on my daily walk with Ginny Bug across the family field I noticed this bright streak in the sky. I texted my conspiracy-willing friend JL; his three-year-old daughter said it was an angel. Then I saw six or seven more farther off down the horizon. I called my dad. He said they were probably just airplanes. JL texted me a website wehre you can track planes flying over your area. They were planes, but they still might also be angels.
Following the last week-and-a-half's grief fest, spiraling in & out of bipolar spells, I've been putting my now-manic energy toward reshaping this house, my routine, my life to fit one, me. It was intended, built, for two, but that is no longer so. Thus, it is necessary that each item, each choice, each plan is for me, not DS & I. Funny how the fact of her leaving isn't enough to make it such.
I read an article today about anxiety in bipolar folks. It separated anxiety as a symptom & anxiety as a coexisting condition. It seems my anxiety is a symptom of my bipolar disorder since it surfaces as irritability in stressful moments only during mood episodes.
I finally had to get rid of the dining table chairs DS reupholstered because every time someone would come over they'd say, "Wow, those chairs are cool," & I'd tell the story of DS teaching herself that skill. They'd leave & I'd sit in one of those chairs alone & cry. Even when I posted them on Facebook to get rid of, a bunch of people commented about how awesome those chairs were. Fuck!
My friend JC, since finding out of this recent pitfall, she texts every afternoon, "How are you doing today, friend?" I'm a little surprised I don't find it annoying; rather, it is very touching, a part of my mindfulness routine, a moment where I must turn awareness inward, "Yeah, how am I doing today?"
The most impactful interpersonal key might be to honor another's perception of reality, regardless of whether or not it aligns with my own or the true sense of nature. Think I disrespected or hurt you? I'm sorry. Feel that your life is in the dumps, or that the world is against you? What a terrible burden to carry. How can I help to alleviate some of that pressure? See bugs crawling all over you or a ghost in the corner of the room? Whoa, scary, let's get that taken care of!
I was talking to SJ the other night about my intense commitment to reason & rationality. I want to be as grounded & reasonable as possible in my life, full reliant on knowledge, information, & processing, as the hallmark of my life. I think it stems from my reaction to my bipolar disorder--an illness whose episodes strip me of all rationality & reasonableness. How emotional, how confused, how ignorant I can easily become is embarrassing at best & deadly at worst. Thus, when I can control it, can make my choices align with my values, I want to do so.
“But what if I'm like a flag factory, that only manufactures giant red flags?” - Maria Bamford
When someone leaves someone for a reason later explained, does anyone hear it? What if I’ve been shouting “You’re making a huge mistake” at the wall since I was nine? Can a family lineage can be any number of things? A particular number of divorces? The ancestral index to fight/flight? Has it ever felt like one moment you’re looking through the magnifying glass & the next you’re the dead bug on the windshield of the Toyota Yaris heading west? What is a dealbreaker for you? Do you put more emphasis on the diagnosis or the symptoms? Is it this simple? What if neither of us committed to me getting better? Have you ever heard of Jonathan Haidt? Do you know what he told us about the social intuitionist model -- intuitions first, strategic reasoning second? Do you remember the Glauconian model -- appearance more important than reality? Where are you coming from? Can we add “I’m doing what’s best for you” to the Mount Rushmore of Bullshit? If your partner is ill, how long do you wait for them to get better & under what conditions? What are warning signs coming from the other end? What are signs a partner might quit on you? What if I told you she said she wouldn’t date someone with a disability, would leave a partner who was transgender? What would others think of me for saving this? What would others think of me for leaving this? What is with all this “conscious uncoupling hoopla” anyhow? Who would’ve chosen “live apart as some weird special marriage” rather than this void? Does it sound weird coming out of my mouth, “I believe in vows?” Is a mental illness a life sentence? Is mishandling a mental illness a life sentence? How about twice? “Haven’t we all been punished enough?” When someone gives up on you, doesn’t it feel like the world has been given permission to do the same?
I'm in the middle of editing what I hope is the final draft of my next poetry collection, I ONCE WAS SOMEONE ELSE & OFTEN STILL AM. Written over the last five years, these poems grind content versus container. In practice, these poems are wild, harnessing the lopsided logic of mania & the quick energy of panic to say some interesting, often irrational things; in shape, these poems are well-shaped, often in syllabic lines, the line as the unit of measure. I thought I'd share one here that captures the twist that's happening in these pages.
MY TRIPLED-PANED SKULL FUMBLES WHAT’S CLAIMED OBVIOUS
With a flick of the wrist, my grandfather shook the snowglobe.
My triple-paned skull fumbles what’s claimed obvious.
The inability carried by my grandfather in separating cousin from I.
Not in our looks or our lineage, but the deeds we do, the needs we undo.
The twine around the newspaper still fresh with ink pulled tight.
I lose track of what once resembled reindeer.
You drink tea in the other room.
My grandfather requests a blanket of no one.
The vision of my mother set to turn her father into a fake gold watch.
Her pile of nightgowns needs folds.
You sit convinced I am a child of echoes.
Spiritually half-petrified as I barrel forth into the field.
Then later I fall from the roof.
To be frank, I am not trustworthy either.
In actuality, I shimmied the gutter, balanced my chin ever so a bit & plummeted.
I dream the stars fell down & shattered the pocket watch.
It tore grief from the ghost’s grasp, let my grandpa know he knows nothing.
I returned to me, the snow done settled within my northern orb.
I hope the poets are writing from deep within their Covid caves. I was mid-conversation with a friend the other day, & they said, “One of the few good things about this pandemic is that it has forced writers into a space where they can do their writing.” It took me a second to realize that this was an alley-oop to talk about my own writing in the Covid era. Socially & publicly over the last four years, I have felt very little like a writer, very removed from the poetry community that I once held so dear; instead, I peck away in my cave, these minor blips let out via this blog as a way to let off some steam. It wasn’t always this way, though.
Before my mental health completely tanked--from my last couple years at Ball State through my first two years in Austin--I was all over the place in the poetry scene, hosting reading series & workshops, performing a couple times a month, & revolving my social calendar around times to meet up with other writers to swap manuscripts, read to each other from our favorite books, & scout out possible collaborations over beers & laughter. I was also so stoked to edit for several magazines over the years--providing editorial feedback, publishing reviews, & letting some wicked work out to the world. Oddly enough, these editorial positions validated me most as a poet, the extreme privilege of getting to work alongside great writers on honing their own language.
That all changed on September 26, 2016, the day after my 28th birthday, when my ex-girlfriend LR published her essay “I Shouldn’t Have To Write This,” chronicling a period of abuse on my behalf, linked my undiagnosed bipolar episodes. That essay unleashed a picture of me that was unknown to much of the writing community I was a part of, including at the magazine/press & MFA program I was currently involved with. It also brought to light many details of my own psychological distress that I had never heard before. To put it lightly, it completely recalibrated my relationship with poetry.
I think LR & the crew that saw me as a loud, abusive prick assumed I would just go away from poetry, give up the craft, & be someone else’s burden. In truth, I was a scared-to-shit twenty-five year old when it happened, juggling a major illness, a support system that was turning its back on me, & the loss of the career path I was heading towards. But that terrified young man, over the last few years has leaned into poetry, not as a community-builder or a friend-giver as it once was, but rather as a therapeutic tool to release the dissociative cross-sections & psychosis-driven delusions that I’ve been carrying much of my adult life. Poetry has become the place to remainder my excess.
It doesn’t mean I don’t miss it, still in mourning over the sudden loss of many dear friends, a possible career, & the joy of publishing / performing poetry. I often think of the glow on my friends’ & co-host’s faces watching some incredible writers & performers at my Everything is Bigger reading series. I think often of the authors I was lucky enough to publish in various roles, as they would post on social media when their author copies came in the mail. I often think of the writers--from third graders to the elderly--I got to teach in workshop. I think often of the books, both my own & other beloved collections, I got to hand-over to curious poetry minds. That’s what I miss the most, being out & about in the community, adding a little ring to the symphony.
For many years, that wasn’t possible or responsible, with the combination of the stigma from LR’s essay & my own awareness of the volatile nature of my undiagnosed mental illness. Like I said, I was better suited to a private poetry life. But what about now? I’m much better off psychologically. I have attempted (& will continue to) multiple times to make amends for the harm I’ve caused others in the writing community. I wrote my open letter to the poetry community. Am I ready to be out & about in the poetry community?
Well, obviously, the current pandemic stops that from happening, but what about from a distance--the publishing & the reviewing & the championing of others’ work--can I do that? I will tell you the truth about something. From the moment I first found out about LR’s essay, I was not so concerned with the effect it would have on my poetry “career,” nevermind the death threats & vandalism. I was most concerned with the impact it would have on others--the shocking disappointment, the blatant fear, & the expected backlash for those who knew me & even more so, those who would continue to know me. You can see it even in this post, my refusal to include the names of those folks I was previously involved with.
I know people bullied my support system in the years following that essay. What about now? What if I try to publish, either my own poems in magazines or starting a magazine to publish others? I am concerned about the bad reputation & backlash those seemingly innocuous decisions would have on those writers who get involved with me. It is the same reason I kept my name away from the work I was doing with DS’s theater projects; the risk never seemed worth the reward.
For the last five years, I have been pecking away on a long poem called "Future Barn." This was before the podcast, before the blog, before the move back home. It is an interwoven tapestry, spanning a decade of love & loss, continually confusing itself for various genres (at times, it thinks it is an essay, other times it feels like stand-up or a lecture, etc.), juggling the facts & fictions of this hick living. I hesitate to say much because I hope I've said enough in the poem itself, spanning forty-five pages. It is my birthday this week (the 25th), & as I live my thirty-third year, I think this is a good front piece. Hope you'll read it. Hope you'll listen to it.
FUTURE BARN, THE POEM (free PDF)
FUTURE BARN, THE POEM (audio on the podcast)
I am the grandson that lives in Fred’s house, who rehung the seashell decoration in the dining room corner, just as it is in family photos, who collaged over paintings & other found objects around the property, who let the corner of the yard grow wild, just like Grandpa Fred did, a place for the rabbits & the birds to nestle & rest.
I am the one who was with him during his last night. In accordance to the Covid rules, we, as a family, had to decide on one representative to be his hospital visitor & it was I. So I was there with him in the Elwood hospital, as he dozed in & out of sleep, watching together President Obama’s eulogy for Congressman John Lewis. I was there with him at the Anderson Hospital as he slept, draping a fourth & fifth blanket across his cold shoulders, holding his hands so he wouldn’t remove the by-pap machine helping him breathe into the night. I see clearly the privilege I was granted by my family, chosen to be the one there with him that fateful night, so I wanted to speak of that honor--of being there with him, of being his grandson, of carrying on his legacy.
I am also the wild card of the family--the youngest, the mentally disordered, the hick, the weirdo artist. I know my family, & probably many of you, are worried about me, waiting for me to go off the rails. To be honest, I probably will lose it at some point soon, but I promise you it won’t be because of the passing of Frederick Lewis Tyner. He lived a long good life, y’all--farming hard, raising my momma & the late great Uncle Ted, loving Grandma JoAnn, inviting foreign exchange students by the dozens into our community, helping out at the elementary school, slinging insurance, & building up this good plot of property I’m lucky enough to continue on.
Here’s something many of you might not know: the first poem I ever wrote was about Grandpa Fred. The poem, unlike his life, was terrible. It compared him to a turtle, the whole slow & steady wins the race cliche, though apt for Grandpa’s tempered, practical way of easing through life. I will save you the pain & not read it to you now, thank goodness. Instead I want to talk to you about the only known piece of artwork by Frederick Lewis Tyner.
Decades ago, he visited his cousin in North Carolina, a visual artist. She invited Grandpa to paint with her & this is what he created. I found it in a closet in the house, draped casually with a sheet. It’s been hanging in the opening to my hallway ever since, a necessarily relic in my grandfather’s path through life.
The first thing I notice is the color choice, three shades of the one color, blue, as if he didn’t want to waste water & time washing multiple brushes, didn’t want to risk colors mixing inadvertently, as if he didn’t care to make things too flashy. I notice how it starts with the swath of sky, the Bob Ross-esque birds, the mountain in the distance, but as we move lower in the painting, we can see grandpa, engaged here for the first time in the exhilaration of art, allow himself to become more impulsive. Notice the bunny that seems to high-tail it across the still canvas. Notice this thing that is either a minimalist shack or an unfinished horse. As we move down the painting we see how this whole time, this whole world has been floating, a hovering existence.
The last thing I notice is his signature, his initials--F.L.T in a neat thin red script. Which has me thinking about how we define ourselves & in-turn are defined by other people. In my final memory of him, laid in the hospital bed all frail, I remember thinking to myself--”Grandpa Fred is really old.” He would’ve been 90 at the end of this November & being old, at one point, became his defining characteristic as it does for all of us, if we’re so lucky to live long enough.
But of course, that’s just recency talking. At certain points, he was defined as a farmer, an insurance salesman, a member of the Army; as a son, father, uncle, cousin, grandpa; defined as a widower grieving the loss of his wife, a father grieving the death of his son, as Fabulous Fred. When I think back on Grandpa’s nine decades, he checks all the boxes you would want for a loved one’s life--full & comfortable, adventurous & challenging, loving & joyous.
If you’re like Grandpa, you believe that Eve’s fateful choice with that apple made our lives perilous, in need of redemption. If you’re like me, you believe the materials of the universe have collided & coalesced for millenia to create these vast & wild creatures we find ourselves inside. If you’re somewhere in between, regardless, I know you can agree with me that, as the musician David Bazan so frankly said, often, “It’s hard to be a decent human being.”
My Grandpa Fred undoubtedly was a decent human being--through his keeping busy & by helping others grow & prosper, even at times to his own detriment. My most vivid & cherished memories of him revolve around this, doing these sort of activities with him. Helping him sell suckers & popsicles at the elementary school. Making rounds with him to collect prizes & treasures for the school carnival & secret santa shop. Going with him to Indianapolis to pick up exchange students at the airport.
Right before this Covid mess ramped up, a group of my friends came to town to work on a play, developing it right in Fred Tyner’s dining room. In the middle of their week here, we all went to see Grandpa at the assisted living facility, his home for his final years. Gathered around a table in the lobby, we all smiled for hours as he shared stories of the farm, demonstrated how to do a Sudoku puzzle, & hugged each & everyone of them hello & goodbye, inviting them to make themselves at home out in his old house.
Since my return home a little over a year ago, I’ve been wondering what it means to be a good person living in a small town like Elwood. That’s the next stroke in this ongoing painting of Fred Tyner’s life; what do we want from his legacy? I’ll tell you a secret: in the last year, barely a day has gone by where I don’t wear an article of his clothing--a hat, his boots, this shirt right now. It is a reminder that his legacy is one of doing, moving a body around in space & time, using it to help others. If you take one thing away from this memorial, this chance to reflect on the life & death of Fred Tyner, please remember that we are each a part of his legacy.
Maybe I was wrong earlier when I said this painting is the only known piece of artwork of Fred Tyner’s. There was much beauty in his generosity to this community. There was much passion in the love for his family. There was great consideration, energy, & nerve in how he handled his business. As creators & makers, movers & shakers, may we all be so kind.
Last week I spent a couple days cycling through psychosis & depression & dissociation in one of my regular bipolar episodes. During that time, I found great comfort in communicating via text with an old friend. The language of those messages captured the visceral nature of my episodes, how I see & feel & disperse in the world while in those states. With a light touch, I've crafted that conversation into a poem that I think mimics the shame & worry & sincere panic of my episodes & its aftermath. I thought it might be helpful to contain such motion here.
APOLOGIES TO THE HELP
The night hours did tick, but little comfort
Did I find. I fell from the bed, half-jostled
Awake with arms out like Jesus then face-
Planted on the hardwood floor, & hurt
My back, the space around my body loud
& blurry. I try to ride it like a skateboard
But you know, the occasional scraped
Knee. I am a tumble. I am a frost, a slick
Hillside. I am an ancient hole. I am a forgotten
Tune, sailed back pleas. Shut it down,
I say through my fingers. To deescalate.
To deflate. Let’s wake up & witness how
The colors mix in the morn. Lots of blue
Anthems, now browns. The loving scratch
By the barbed wire of worry. I don’t complete
Them, then incomplete I am. I don’t reconstitute
Then destitute I am. It is like he said, The clouds
We are and terrible things inside happening.
Why am I this way? Why aren’t I a pelican?
But who deserves a hug & how can this
Sandwich even care? What a mess. What a man.
I am covered in pudding while everyone else
They cry into their corn salad. It is truth
But you might rather eat a stick of butter. Classic
Safe word, when it is not safe here, the howling
It gets loud, the elbows bumpy. Plus I smell
Horribly from a day that does this. I might
Try to pick some flowers into the morn.
I wish this poem might land, but nothing but
Seizured bits & ankled syntax. You wouldn’t
Believe this exhaustion. Part liar, part illusionist.
My hands stink & are sticky. Okay, this is when
It happens. The wife leaves, friends disintegrate.
Even my mother went whoa. The blabber & the blur
Disrupt & chop. Sorry to lose you. It was a deal,
Respect even in the weeds. Yes, but are there you
Or though not. It rattles too loudly. I am a foot
For trying. This life aches too loudly for my liking.
Oh supposed so. I’m just tottering on the edge
Of madness, not a new thing. Yes, the grinding
But I have some skills in balance. To not jab you.
To not spook you. Time helps & honoring
My five senses, or more, helps & lemonade
Helps & sleep, if it ever comes, helps, & tight
Teeth helps. Just letting myself squirt, beaten
By the sound of the taste of the worry. It is
A real breakdown, cracked almond. I should go
Feel some grass, hear an owl. I fluster, so don’t
Worry, don’t decade, do song if ever I don’t return.