1—

It’s hard not to let hope run a neon colors riot all over my insides.

To corral the roan herd that are neurotransmitters spooked by a lightning storm again.

2—

Like Jesus calming the storm as Christ walked on it. A florid simile, but an accurate image for how a medication (in theory, ideally in the Platonic sense, before the psychoactive agents enter the body) takes things down several severity indices. In extremis, too.

Brink, less able to exert its particular gravitic force unchecked.

A miracle on earth in the hell of your head. Who wouldn’t want one of those?

what does clear mean—when you think

where clearly means how water runs

its liquid feet—prints that evanesce

3—

Westernized medicine views illness as an isolatable set of symptoms with causes traceable as the geolocation of a cellphone.

Causality at its most positivistic. Psychiatry, arguably the most. If the brain is a biochemical supercomputer, troubleshooting system glitches is all there is, right?

Question of mind

—as counterpoint to brain—a bow at rest on cello strings.

Storms don’t arise ex nihilo, even, & especially psychological ones. Or is it psychiatric ones. As if out of some primeval parthenogenesis instead of the welter & wonder of alive.

Underworld floor. Crash site vicinity. Debris fields. Ruins.

Wanting to die—not in the sense of suicidal ideation so much as a desire that the inevitable extirpation of carbon-based lifeforms would hurry up the temporal decay resulting in coal, peat.

Death is a convenient container because it’s large enough to devour the overriding need to distance your carbon-based self from the unbearable specifics of you.

I don’t know where the nonlinear clouds got started, appearing like bubbles out of my toddling nephew’s bubble gun. When I began walking in & out of them.

How, where the weathervane tilted. Is that even the right way to think about it.

Lost finds you in a bewilderment time & place. A dandelion seed among a windblown handful, scattering while you watch.

4—

Air almost crisp this morning. Seasonal auroras have arrived, even in central
Texas during the late-stage capitalist throes of climate change.

Leaves every color flame might emit on the light spectrum, but dyed by its gradually growing ever more acute.

Advent, a season unto itself. Sea change on the levels of air & light that work with your wiring. Unless they don’t. Lunar cycle’s systole & diastole punctuating tides, a chronology as ancient as solar, infinites suspended between them.

5—

what’s been reverberating ye olde
skull bowl can be a kind home

heredity’s a terrible calculus
concerning mood disorders

this particular fire in the head
could a descendant theoretically ignite

6—

If there is a God, & I do believe the Grandmothers exist, I’d beg said divinity. I do beg that my sister’s children be spared any & all of the anguish I didn’t choose. That it would pass from them as if it were a cup on the order of the bitter Jesus didn’t want to taste in Gethsemane.

I would light a thousand novenas. Say five thousand rosaries. Walk from Burnet, Texas, to the basilica of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe on Tepeyac hill, CMDX, on my knees.

Could I spare them—how I spared any children I might have by not having them—I would, knowing that’s not how the divine works. So, I take my lithium morning & night like a monk saying the liturgy of the hours, & I pray for my nephew & niece.

7—

Third panel of a triptych on the fourth day of the third element on the periodic table cycling through the bloodstream.

Numerology could stand to calm down. Really.

Sleepiness doesn’t count as a side effect for a medication if you take it before climbing your nightowlish ass & ragamuffin mind into bed.

You learn to live with the minor ways the body can be an awkward place to live so that it’s bearable in the major ways.

8—

Apocalypse is always sexier than welcoming the stranger or showing hospitality to the most outcast in your social situation.

Depression sucks royally, but at least the underworld has a floor.

Whereas mania? There’s no ceiling to the sky.

As early as 3pm, light can begin to drain from the picture gone sepia or gray.

Very like a tintype print.

Meanwhile, a constellation of things turn, making the beautiful mess we call the self.

Debris fields add up. Where debris means aftermath & field. Where the breakdown.

Visible wreckage corresponds to surveyed landscape. Iron filings drawn to a magnet.

Friable as the wish never to become manic again. Where wish means fear.

Everybody needs their very own early warning system custom-made for whatever hell the mental roommates can kick up. Then there are the wounds whose mouths have yet to shut.

9—

Memory’s not subject to chronology because it’s mercury.

I’ve been examining tesserae again. Looking to make sense when language disintegrated to syllable shreds. Where.

To make sense of its shatter in language.

words don’t always sit still
bee swarm & geese’s flying v

down a page water runs
sparks ignite to ash

As if all the wildlife inside you had gone the way of every deciduous leaf.

As if antagonism between spirit & flesh were the price of the incarnational ticket.

Gnosticism’s racket. Embodiment as cosmic accident.

Loneliness can dissolve the limestone of the spine as water does a cave.

Seeing as soul isn’t localized in any particular part of the body, punishing the body to lash at the soul is the next best thing.

feeling equal parts roadkill & reject

ready to detonate like a dandelion

head a West Texan thunderstorm

10—

In Conyers, Georgia, I met an octogenarian Trappist who told me it was possible to be gay & Catholic in 2002. First of several times I crept near conversion before I did, sixteen years & a lifetime later.

His smile answered the anguish in my eyes. Ending our meeting before Vespers, he told me he wanted to spend time with his sweetheart, Jesus.

11—

Scaffolding subject to erosion, what holds heaven over earth, suspended over the abyss.

Metaphysics—the interface of epistemology & phenomenology. A both/and.

Wore the scent of a smoker about all of my thens.

12—

All day winds have finally brought what they were carrying. Clouds striated with lightning. Entire northern horizon a flash.

The part of me that processes emotions tends toward the iconoclastic, according to an astrological algorithm that reinforces my Aquarian moon’s need to be sui generis. Without actually explaining anything.

Inaudible thunder. Coruscation, an announcement thunder will drum soon.

If it weren’t such a cold front in the form of a lightning one, plus who knows meteorology what else, I’d stand in the downpour so it’d continue the wind’s work as a pumice stone for worry.

13—

What does water not welcome into itself. It being mostly what we are.

Ensconced on the couch with me, Toby dislikes thunder & lightning like most dogs, but it’s nice to observe serious weather going down without any breaking loose behind my eyes.

An SSRI-induced manic episode can intensify or worsen the progression of bipolar disorder.

Writing’s on the wall. It’s been there awhile.

14—

Every day is a journey, & the journey itself is home.

Leave it to Bashō to go straight to the interior.

A beautiful idea. Somewhat like Ram Dass saying at the end of the day. At the end of the day in ordinary time or not. At the end of the day we’re just walking each other home.

An ancient, holy tradition as old as sojourn. Bashō doesn’t mention the possibility of not having to journey alone because solitude is his focus.

On said journey while being with.

Feelscape is what we walk through.

Call it the narrative field the conscious mind tells itself about itself. Details & plot points supplied by the sub & unconscious archives throughout the day. Past & present meander like vagabond time.

15—

So far, so good. But edges get jagged if aloneness is more perspective.

Valid reasons might exist for feeling this way, but probably not enough to justify feeling how a moonscape looks.

Buddhism, like the Zen schools contemporary with Bashō, might describe that flawed ignorance.

Not flawed in the sense of fucked up. That’s too close to the sense of wrong that theology lodges in the bones of Christian children.

Mahayana Buddhism teaches we’re already enlightened. Have been always.

We just haven’t realized that—

(Or we haven’t remembered it—)

Mistaken, because separateness is as much mirage as self.

It’s still uncomfortable being alive. A truth important enough to Buddhism to be called noble.

Singularity of being in a body.

Veil ripped asunder, folks.

16—

I’ll say it again. Being in a body is a singularity.

The fundamentally fucked neverending exile story. About you being an alien in a person suit. Or maybe the other way around. Not really a person, regardless.

Inhabiting your body. Not equally easy for all.

I’m not the only one with questions & complaints for Incarnation Management.

17—

Tibetan Buddhism compares the clarity of the mind’s true nature to the clear sky stretched blue forever.

Dickinson’s The Brain—is wider than the Sky—& then some.

Dukkha, the Pali word often translated as suffering where the eight-fold path’s concerned, doesn’t originate in or with us.

Not even at the level of mind, or self by another name, does psychological or psychiatric anguish begin inside it in Buddhist psychology. Such states begin in the form of visiting forces.

In the sense that they’re guests. Temporary, very long-term if allowed. Forces not in the sense of anything otherwordly, unless that’s one of your frequencies.

Force a thought carries. Emotion as volt.

So force could be the wrecked array of whatever constellates a depressive episode or mania’s ruinous path. The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.

But sometimes we forget—perhaps didn’t stop to ask when—they arrived. Not asking, or forgetting this, permits them to stay. Where they proceed to stick to everything like hair rubbed against a balloon.

Visiting forces will move right in. No lease signed with the psyche. No reservations made with the mental concierge.

Forces that wound aren’t all equally grievous, true.

It’d be simplistic & glib to say, Hey there queer Christian discontent. Great news! That sense you’ve had circa age 5 that something’s wrong with you. How God’s gonna smite you. No need to freak out anymore.

It’s just one of those visiting forces.

Theodicies stopped compelling me when I realized they were doomed to fail—to begin with—while driving all of us insane.

Dickinson, again, from a letter dated 1860—those great countries in the blue sky of which we don’t know anything.

18—

What a relief. What a goddamn relief for everyone whose lives have been jacked from the jump courtesy of the dogma known as original sin. The notion of something originally sinful lodged within us, somewhere, crests across the horizon of you like locusts filling a biblical sky. It just feels like that plague. The insects are thoughts buzzing in hidden corners. Sin as in something unspeakable. A something alive inside of you. Awake.

Why does said it exist? It just is.

& if inside you—a lot or even a little bit—it is you.

outcast / prodigal / exile / abomination / anathema / pariah / basket case / wreck /

What a motherfucking relief to be offered by Buddhism a psychology & a metaphysic that doesn’t begin with wrong. With sin.

blue is where—that

brain & sky forever

cloudless afternoon

That is what we are. Not the clouds that build & disassemble themselves whenever weather. Those would be the visiting forces like a severe thunderstorm warning & likelihood of hail. Or a few of your mental roommates you thought had always lived there.

We’re what the clouds form across.

19—

What apple doesn’t want to be bitten?

Sometimes you need to chase an unfound limit to its edge. Or, limits find you with an unfailing that’s uncanny.

Not like Rimbaud didn’t tell you, baby. He thought we knew. Je est un autre.

No need to find the event horizon after all the light in the skull’s changed colors from natural or chemical substance. Being alive in a body subject to time will take you there.

It’s implacable like a dogday heat index in South Texas in July.

If that doesn’t do it, childhood or adolescence or adulthood will.

Courting ruin, a fool errand.

20—

In Down Below, Leonora Carrington details the attempt to write about the experience of madness, the difficulty of articulating what you’ve experienced in language when it flies in & out of language like a moth looking for a light source.

I am afraid I am going into fiction, truthful but incomplete, for lack of some details which I cannot conjure up today.

That’s the hard part. Even with language’s ability to thread tatters. Cloth scraps threadbare everywhere.

Without recourse to invention—fabula versus historia, as a fourteenth-century monk in England would reckon things—how can you make sense of the discontinuous.

Writing still legible on paper that’s been burned. Pieces of film burned on both edges. I’m not computer literate enough to conjure an image for broken code without imagining the Matrix.

How do you make sense of the discontinuous couplets mumbled from no oracular mouth delirious from the underground vapors of Delphi. Memories shorn of meaningful narrative context during the indeterminacy of breakdown.

21—

Meanwhile, every pecan leaf still holding out their photosynthesizing hopes dances. Waving their veined limbs as winds bring colder temps than they’ve felt in months.

Save for some cirrus, an unadulterated sky.

2:57pm light dappled through trees. Shadows branch & tremble on grass as if they were clouds with the not-new chainlink demarcating a sky on the ground.

As below, so above, & wind’s got something to do with it.

22—

October now, so physics accomplishes what I feel as afternoon unravels.

Got a call from the psychologist’s office I was referred to for diagnostic assessment by my psychiatric nurse practitioner. They called BCBS to confirm my benefits only to discover my Obamacare HMO outsources ‘behavioral health’ somewhere else.

Confusing, because the diagnostician found by my psych NP was chosen because she was in network. But she cannot be what she’s listed as being in network to provide without it being very expensive because that’s a behavioral health thing.

Trying to close the hermeneutic circle of health insurance logic where mental health (prevention & treatment) is concerned imperils your own. Even because of something as simple as one word opposed to another, which means the same thing often enough in usage to be sometimes synonymous.

My government-subsidized BCBS HMO covers basically everything health-related under its umbrella except dental. Re: any of the body’s organ systems & the processes they oversee. Specialists needed for adequate care. After the referral an HMO requires, of course. Specialists I could see for anything from my skin to my spleen with insurance covering it.

Not so if the organ is the brain. Or, if it is the brain, the issue needs to be neurological. Epilepsy, migraines, dementia, stroke. Or some such distinction, because my Kafkaesque HMO distinguishes between brain & mind.

Brain. Mind. You’d think those meant equivalent things, seeing as we use them interchangeably on a daily basis. It would stand to reason—one might argue—but the identical twin births of psychology & psychiatry muddled things in the 19th century. I’m not sure philosophy helped anymore then than now.

Diseases of the brain, on the one hand, & diseases of the mind on the other. Under which the litany of mental illnesses falls. See under: In Your Head.

As health insurance companies assault the language, behavioral health is mental health by another dubious name. Since I live with a chronic illness for biochemical reasons, you might think that’d make a critical difference, but the rhetorical you that’s me would be wrong, regardless of what science has demonstrated about the hereditary basis of bipolar disorder.

Granted, behavioral health is so-called because serious mental illness affects a person’s life across its cascading levels, including the behaviors people rely on to get through the day. We call it functioning, a word more commonly associated with machines than organics. It still feels linguistically suspect.

Mental illness, maybe especially because of that specific adjective, goes over there. So far over there BCBS doesn’t even hassle with it. Not in the eyes of my HMO, at least.

23—

Re: names for things. Bipolar disorder—the current but least evocative moniker. As an adjective, bipolar denotes two poles of opposing extremes. Having two such extremes & the whole spectrum between. More one extreme than the other if actively cycling, usually, & even multiple at once. The modifier reveals nothing of either pole’s quality regarding mood. Manic-depressive illness, the older term, does this with one more syllable than the former.

Laughter before tears—as manic-depressive illness orders things. Which reminds me of Anne Carson’s grammatical point about the bittersweet we have Sappho to thank for when we experience desire. Glukupikron, preserved on a piece of papyrus like most of what we have left of her writings, tells a story of sweetness before anything bitter. Our English word reverses the chronology as Sappho sang it. This is why I prefer tristimania.

24—

But there are prose writers whose language hits me at the level of poetry & who, now I think on it, guide me from the wings as I lay sentences like train tracks across the abyss. Carole Maso’s fiction & essays. Kazim Ali’s Bright Felon. Michelle Cliff’s Claiming an Identity They Taught Me to Despise. Toi Derricotte’s Black Notebooks. Fanny Howe’s Wedding Dress & Winter Sun.

Like the memories that wander over the ground or in the air, shreds of morning mist the sun hasn’t gotten around to vaporizing. & yes, ground, because I’ve yet to hear of an underworld or down below—as Carrington put it &, my God, that book—that didn’t have a floor. Where the laws of psychological gravity finally bring things to rest. Where the past, maybe very messy history, stretches far as the inner eye can make out.

Maybe it looks like a junkyard where any hope slowly succumbs to rust. Or a monastery in a slow state of Renaissance ruin since Henry VIII declared himself head of Christianity in England & ransacked them, smashing altarpieces & rood screens, because the divine right of kings ranks up there among delusions.

—But what is a poet like me doing in a prosaic place like this? In the prefatory material to Carolyn Forché’s long poem “On Earth”: this diary a form of weather.

What I’ve been writing about. Trying to for the past two years. Record it. Measure, describe. To forecast on the basis of psychiatric history. Inner weathers & outer, although inscape’s never outside the view. (Thank you forever, Gerard Manley Hopkins. Pray for me, as I pray for you.)

I do write about the weather because it’s the weather, still. But ever since I can remember, I’ve had at least one eye periodically on the earth in orbit around the sun inside my skin. Paracelsus speaks to this somewhere, how all the cosmos can be found inside the body.

A counterpoint to the night sky fixing me when I stand in sight of the Davis Mountains.

25—

How sky hashes out what wind & water & light argue among themselves does help me understand my affective equivalents. Gotta love an objective correlative. The meteorology of it all gives me a visual vocabulary to describe my emotional weather in words.

Not just personification or the fallacies pathos makes possible. I’m talking about a habit of mind for association (substitution, to the delight of psychoanalysts everywhere) as well as similitude.

A way of thinking that tends to proceed by metaphorical means. Metaphorá—to carry over, across. What isn’t alike thrown together. With a kind of violence sometimes, but always with the threat of some.

Because difference exists. So do the edges of things as they move closer & closer to the invisible seam between, where the ceiling-fanned atoms of air in this room begin against the verge of skin.

Vanishing points might true the situation when the sensible surround is trustworthy. As with likeness, a big if.

26—

A feeling is a fact because it exists. It exists. I wrote that twice because it means far more than what its surface says. Seeing as it takes, as given, the existence of inner worlds & solar systems where the facts that feelings are exist.

They exist insofar as they make themselves perceptible to your senses, but how emotions scribble themselves across our bodies is the phenomenal proof. As facts, feelings in the first place exist on all those little earths orbiting our insides where no one else’s pesky or well-intentioned senses or good ideas can reach.

Very much a good news & bad news situation. The good news is that all of us who’ve wondered if we were the only ones who didn’t receive the default setting for how to inhabit your body—to name but one example of what brings the loneliness on—we can rest easy knowing other people’s instruction manuals likewise leave out other crucial details.

As far as news goes, less good is the altogether different fact—this time a nettlesome one—these feelings & their respective facts primarily exist on everyone else’s personal earth within that metaphysical contraption sometimes called the human heart.

Interior can be inexplicable to anyone outside your own sensorium even with the help of words. Sometimes even to you. Contact—w/oneself, w/the world, w/another—crisis in every sense. Anne Carson observed that, too.

All those times that are places. Places that are times. All the ages you’ve been in slow revolutions. There in that inscaped world after we cease living them in the timeline binding us, & they vanish. Supposedly into the past. No more finished than gone.

27—

10:32am—one day before being on lithium for 2 weeks.

How do I feel?
A question dreaded & reviled by the mentally ill everywhere. It’s almost an article of faith. Nor a question we enjoy asking ourselves. Not more than anyone else, but more than most in this particular way.

How do you feel? That asks you to isolate an incalculable number of things in motion. Within that head of yours & without. Then, let your attention let the sum of them be taken up by what forces carry them. Both of these things by willpower—emotional bandwidth—that could be embattled. With a chronic mental illness, at some point it will be.

Then examine the already obsolete data seconds after your cognitive processes created the still to try to answer that question. How do you feel.

What does the snapshot suggest. Is there anywhere detectable a constellation. If any bits of brightly painted tiles scattered like iconoclasm’s refusal to acknowledge that resemblance exists. Scrying what if any runes, flung.

No portents for the future beyond a photograph of a former moment filed away in the archive where they continue to shine. A slice of time thin as a computer file, & as endless when scrolling through its span.

How do I feel, then? Quiet in here, brain-wise. Most of the pilot lights on. Actually, more than most. Far as I can tell, mostly, what shouldn’t be isn’t.

The house was quiet and the world was calm, wrote Wallace Stevens in one of the late poems that are agnostic prayers. Were my mind a house & the world my affective atmosphere, this morning, where the sky’s endless wide & when. Sympathetic magic, sometimes.

28—

Then there’s the agony of afternoon. Wouldn’t want to forget the slow & inexorable or sudden, steep decline. What’s the damage this time. Sad about a guy. (Isn’t that always the way.) Except the sad, as a feelingfact, exists on that little earth otherwise known as in my head.

A Sagittarian sun & Gemini rising means patience is a premium in occasionally very short supply. Throw my hereditary share of neurosis on top, & you have an astonishing capacity to worry. Anticipate each apocalyptic could be with the precision of a gene splicer. & a talent for catastrophizing entirely my own.

What trips the wires frayed in places? It unhelpfully could be anything—in theory—often reacting to sudden, unwelcome change. Response to. Homeostasis is a tender art.

I also want to write delicate. Wind picks up or shifts. Frost, something on its way or not quite yet. As when a pause in conversation turns into a pall. Email exchange gone crepuscular. But who are we kidding.

A text exchange, this. Some sexting—this is a judgment-free zone—also maybe slept with him already. Or not. Except, you have.

You know how it goes. Light, casual. Absolutely. Sounds great. Mutuality is underrated as far as the miraculous goes. Chemistry, less science than art.

Buckle up. You’ve got this.

Here’s the thing, though. As astrology delineates things, intensity & passion derive from Venus being in Scorpio in my chart. Or choose an archetypal system. Intensity attracts is the point. Sometimes seduces. But whether water line or a power line, mine’s got some issues.

Since forever, basically. That’s how long ago the original sin grew up believing in attached itself to you. Some point between conception & birth, the nanoparticles of that theological fact affix themselves to cell walls.

Not that original sin’s the issue. This is just the typical Monday spinout because said guy all the sudden isn’t saying anything. Not in character either, his. 7:04pm now. How do you feel.

Last heard from yesterday evening. Reply long in arrival. A complete & total dodge of my proposition. The dodge flummoxed because, also, unlike. Evening had come on by then. Possibility, dwindling faster than light red-shifted to the max.

You could hope for another text, one that might actually answer ye or nay. Wait for what so obviously wasn’t ever on its way. Give a pass for the dodge & text again anyway.

You reply anyway. Because aside from the masochistic streak, you also fear something fundamental about you scatters men like a fox in a henhouse.

Before that simile reaches its bloody conclusion full of feathers, though, the part that matters is the scatter. Dispersal. How the advent of a fox among chickens would incite pandaemonium. Just like with Pertelote & Chauntecleer in Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale.

Noteworthy, unsurprisingly, I let the emotionally unintelligent dodge go. Not easy for the Scorpio vibe. Mars in Libra helps. I also like him that much.

Should that be rewritten in the past tense? Desire’s distance stretching 24 hours since his last text. Unmistakable, unshakeable calm when you get the feeling you’re being ghosted. If you didn’t know any better. Why else would he not respond to a text as direct as, I would like to be your lover. Not partner. Not boyfriend. Lover.

How do you feel. Eating your heart out of every etcetera. Tonight I’m leaving it in the present tense. Too much of a romantic by far.

29—

In the Seroquel hour, 10:52pm, picked up The Lover again & came across this sentence. Duras at her absolute best.

Very early in my life it was too late.

I like the sentence because it gives words to a feeling I’ve had for as long as I can remember sequestered away in an obscure part of my body, one I’d never have thought of as too late until I read what she wrote. Even in English translation.

Too late. Too late as original sin. Mine, my already too late, could’ve & was collapsed under the category of original sin in an individual life. Where the real ruin was, though—a feeling, a feeling that’s a fact—I will always circle like a moth wending moonward. There was no way for a child to disentangle what continues to stymie many a queer adult.

I no longer believe that—as much or often as I once did. Still, year after year I find it burrowed deep in the skeletal frame of what’s awry in the mental-emotional body. Consciousness, its sensorium. The usual suspect known as Originally Fucked Up discovered somewhere new. Picked my teeth with it plenty. How do you feel.

30—

Co-Star’s takeaway today is, Everyone has their limits, which is a much less enthusiastic endorsement than yesterday’s. You are indestructible.

Do, sayeth the stars, new shoes, semi-formal. So not gonna happen. Parking lots, which I have on good authority is a place where hell can break through the mortal plane.

Co-Star ever helpfully lists what not to do, too. Don’t—melodrama, projecting, protagonism.

So, don’t indulge cognitive distortions. Nor should the metafiction of how you tell the story of your life where you star as—wait for it!—a misunderstood protagonist.

Sweet, & fuck off, stars. Thinking errors have their fun &, historically, have worked out poorly for me really well over the years. About as well as alcohol or drugs.

Loneliness, lostness, owls at roost in my ribs.

Starshine & shadows can gather around like a glamor.

Pilgrim &/or/as prodigal in an ongoing bewilderment story. A very old story I’ve been telling myself about myself. What else could the Bible avail due to what’s within. Old as Genesis & endless as John’s gospel. The Bible is my beginning. That’s one way to start the story.

31—

Slowly, only in my latest 30s & almost middle age, do I begin to understand how fundamentally this ur-text of You’re messed up so why wouldn’t loneliness make you want to die can’t be extricated from what disorders the present.

Not the vaguest inkling it was there. Which is how these things work—as Jorie Graham observes, something catches. Burr on a sock. Spark in dry grass. Virus hooking itself to a permeable membrane.

The psychoanalytic primal scene. What Frank Bidart calls a radical given. In his own life. Ellen West’s. Vaslav Nijinsky’s. Myrrah’s in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Benvenuto Cellini’s. Genghis Khan’s. Marking each hour of the night. How do you feel. Very early in my life it was too late.

Tragedy begins with a radical given—your uncle has murdered your father and married your mother. Before your birth a prophecy that you will kill your father and marry your mother leads your father to decree your murder. The radical given—irremediable, inescapable—lays bare the war that is our birthright.

So here, like Samuel as a child in the temple unaware he was hearing God’s voice, I am. Unsure I’ve actually ever. Not in any audible noise discernible as a voice sense. From where? Outside, a voicebox on legs as in Eden, maybe.

How do you feel? 11:30am, I can see its chameleon rhizomatic tendrils spread like an unobtrusive, but fucked up, fungus in the backgrounds of each panel in the manic-depresive altarpiece of late adolescence & early adulthood.

Trying to forgive myself, keep trying to forgive myself better said, for missing it so totally there in the background for the longest. How isotopes are everywhere. The palimpsestic story of originally wrong with the Pauline war between spirit & flesh driving me crazy. That antagonism, the price for life.

torn, alive.
between body & mind.
I called it soul.

32—

A rip in the raiment of a metaphysical given snags further the more you worry it.

Theologically foregone conclusion, deadly as an antimatter version of God’s shadow in Ps 91.

Except for that particular ache in the shape of that boy ago, for me the problem began & ended with sin. Being a preacher’s son. All the sodomitical etceteras in the Tanakh & the Christian epistles. Pauline fixation on. Fire sewn in bone.

Existential—metaphysical—epistemological—phenomenological foundation subject to extreme pressures are eaten away simply as water through sandstone in monsoon season.

33—

By the insubstantial skin of my soul’s teeth.

34—

Meanwhile. Years ago, my custom-made death drive found several new neural pathways to flood with overwhelm. Exigencies of heredity & circumstance. The times in places & the place in every time. Cigarettes, drinking, drugs. Cutting & other species of self-harm.

How could I have known—Wrecked, solitary, here—the rage I felt toward the soul, fury further incensed because of its inaccessibility, was one of the sharpest edges of the problem. Grief, a co-conspirator with anger. Ire screwed together into a hatred of the body.

Funerals in the brain keep their own calendar. So does the scripture circulating through your system like free radicals. I could not have known.

Matter, the perennial—because primordial—problem. Feminine gender (materia, also mater), which means Eve was part of the picture.

A bigger deal in this instance than the Mother of God (Theotokos), or the fact that Jesus might well be the Word. In all the frailty of human flesh. Paradox starts here.

Christ’s flesh was perfect. Mine wanted to be a girl when young. Liked other guys when older.

What could lust be if not an affliction of the flesh when you grow up listening to the apostle Paul. Foul enough to stain the soul.

& since things happened before they happened, & what happened did happen, how could it be otherwise for a child of the church. No less a queer one. I keep beginning again, again, looking for the angle or facet or perspective to help me understand why the mind goes the way of an incendiary.

35—

10:00am—Who hasn’t ever wondered: am I a monster or is this what it means to be a person?

That’s a Clarice Lispector sentence I’ve wanted to copy down for days in a notebook. It might be the best analogue to Am I an alien in a person suit or is everyone else I’ve seen.

Another sharp edge of the problem. Earth’s been a halfway house on the way to heaven or hell since Christianity became a thing.

Body, a waystation.

What I’m calling a gnostic streak wove itself into early Christianity, & in the faith it remains. It’s all over Paul’s writings, & with what I argue is the thorn in his queer flesh, no wonder. I claim this as one of the church’s queer discontents with spirit versus flesh again.

Spirit (spiritus). Soul (pneuma). Kindred but distinct. Before these, ruach. Flesh as a form of matter (materia & hyle).

Paul just can’t let it go. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh (Gal 5:17).

I particularly enjoy the NRSV translation team’s decision to capitalize Spirit for emphasis, which is to say, at the expense of flesh. One example of a theology’s elevation of the former at the expense of the latter.

This can fuck your life up sideways & upside down. Beginning with that originally wrong part that, age 11, joined hands with desire & its objects. Forbidden isn’t the right word. There’s unthinkable, to be sure, but abomination is what this is really about. Indivisible from the body. Where lust comes from. How does an 11-year-old tell which from which?

Desire—for another man, as a man, but lusting after something enough it becomes an object of desire was the problem then. Can it live anywhere other than flesh & thus of the world &, therefore, not eternal. Growing up in 1980s & 90s mainstream Protestantism was a time.

Existence as accidental on a cosmic scale. A religion driven by such a metaphysic lends nowhere good when you’re looking for a reason to live.

If we aren’t supposed to be here—if we wouldn’t be in this predicament without what the Fall wrought—what use for this assemblage of atoms? Where soul finds itself snared for the indignity of the duration?

Halfway house incarnate. That’s earth. That’s the body, too. It’s metonymic, except if earth represents the body side of the binary opposition where soul always wins, what’s the soul on the scale of earth? How many weigh as much as the earth.

How many souls make a field.

How many fields, a vale.

36—

Gnosticism. It lends an acid to the muscles involved in the will to live. This sounds bleak, I know, but what else is a vista hostile to the life it might look upon?

Perhaps the word I should use causing so much trouble is desire.

If the desire to die exists—who’d gainsay?—why not the reverse? Not news to Eros or Thanatos. Pleasure principle, reality principle. Death drive styming students of the psyche since Freud wrote about it in Civilization & Its Discontents, to the offense of Christian sensibilities everywhere as only an iota of truth can.

But a death drive in Christianity? Non sequitur. Except what about Paul, returning like the repressed, when he says I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate in Rom 7:15. A more succinct way to describe the capacity of a homo sapiens to self-destruct I’ve yet to find.

Sin is the obvious explanation theology offers for this quality that falls under the categories of both It is what it is & Vonnegut’s So it goes. But since we’re thinking psychoanalytically, I’m interested in what the truth Paul acknowledges has to do with enjoyment. Why someone does what they don’t want—what you want, but know you shouldn’t, could be a category unto itself—& do it anyway.

Do it again. Masturbating night after night in junior high thinking about guys I now realize were sexy, hating myself for it, a weekly ritual where desire couldn’t be extricated from shame. Iterative as ever, the body remained a large & jagged edge of the problem.

Paradox is the apposite word where religion begins & ends. What else is Christianity? If the Incarnation isn’t a paradox, I don’t know what is.

Word made flesh. God made man. Kingdom of heaven within you.

Death—the needle’s eye anyone must crawl through if you want to reach resurrection.

What people don’t realize is how much religion costs, Flannery O’Connor wrote in a 1959 letter. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.

37—

That’s what I was trying to do. What I was really after. What I wished. To jettison the body—or myself out of it.

Most of us do sometimes. Any number of hows. Flirt with it a little at least.

That limit is what it is & what you stretch toward whenever you try to take the body off.

Just for a little while. Ways that start small. Now & again. Special occasions.

It sounds like I’m talking about booze or drugs. All fantastic ways to decreate, to potentially misuse Simone Weil’s fantastic word. Neither substance is necessary to practice taking the body off for real.

Eclipse chasing begins inside your skin before you ever take it outside. Does someone burn stomach or lungs unless there’s smoke upstairs?

Does someone flood throat or nose unless drought conditions have been severe in terms of soul.

Been a desert. A tongue can.

Stars don’t only die above our heads.

In any part of the body, they flame or gutter like candles. A whole choir of them placed throughout the body according to the day & time & place of birth.

They can be blown out. Events. Vicissitudes of the daily. Singularities that signal the sublime.

Anything that can happen where world begins past the point of skin can also take place inside it, is what I’m saying. Feelingfact.

Emotions & the atmospheres they throw together in an instant.

Sensorium—our surround shaped by them, all the mind’s weathers, psychological or psyche, whatever your persuasion.

Unconscious, riveting around in the subconscious somewhere.

Acute consciousness hurts just to think about.

Whatever it is, you won’t be able to stop. Thinking about it. Thinking about thinking about it. Maybe, could be, probably obsessive.

Cessation the state of rest where you’d like to lay.

Thought silenced, extinguished feelings. Cascade effects of worry, hurt, shame, fear. Who wouldn’t want to run away from.

Wherever wrong first found a place to root inside you.

Forbidden fruit fell to ground in the garden. As things go to seed, they did there exactly how wrong flowers in us.

There must have been a bird in the forbidden tree, too, because that’s what birds do.

Ribcage an array of branches where wrong alights its own avian self. I don’t know what the collective noun is for more than one of the winged things.

A mindfuck. An event horizon. A creed. A miasma.

A litany that could lengthen ad infinitum, one substituting another because certain particular hurts scramble the system language is.

That it’s in the nature of silt to settle might be secular evidence for the existence of grace.

I bet that bird ate a seed after Adam & Eve did, too. Maybe even before.

38—

8:31pm—Crickets, frogs or cicadas maybe. Where I always sit, a phrase I’ve always loved of Charles Wright’s, astronomical twilight any moment now, though it’ll take the rest of the sky a while to hear.

Transmission isn’t instantaneous but sometimes feels, seems so. Geological.

Right now the moon hangs like a brooch of antique ivory with a beat up patina.

Jewel adorning nothingness passes band by twilit band, & they brighten hour by clear night hour.

I’m not sure even one of the remaining pecan tree leaves has moved this past hour. They don’t look like they are, but now it’s 9:57pm & way too backyard crepuscular to tell.

39—

Driving to San Antonio late this morning w/a surprising amount of traffic, I realized something odd—which is that I have very little recollection of the places or times the sentences of other days have traveled.

Lithium side effect? I wouldn’t be the first.

How the sky’s above you this morning is not the same as yesterday’s. Heraclitean river by another name. Flowing & flown, as Bishop says of the ocean. Historical, too.

Repetitions & refrains. But in this case repetition brought forgetting to mind. The memory woods. Am I or have I repeated myself (of course I have!), when I am doing that or how often (decided I wouldn’t go back to reread while writing this).

Do I repeat myself. Sweet Lord.

What else is a spiral if not a hand that wobbles trying to draw a circle.

Refrain—learning to trust your mind again, even after so many months, okay, more than a year now—if I take April 2020 as the moment I realized something wasn’t right. Slog of trying to get stabilized on meds, sort disordered thinking from not. Still trying to figure out how to do that.

Yet another situation where a sentence, its ability to bring together or hold apart, helps mark the way. Light it, sometimes.

40—

Not finished gnawing the bone of what it means to start one medication & stop another. How much have neural pathways changed since I took no medication from 2010-2018? & changes caused by the first manic episode in 15 years—

But neurons are always changing. Still, I find myself wanting to ask, knowing that to ask invites a very specific type of despair.

Questions shapeshift into others. Did I damage my brain taking a medication with the wrong composition for my own wiring, for instance, when my general nurse practitioner mistook my agitation & scattered thinking for ADHD in 2019. Prescribed Adderall, as if a Sagittarius needs any extra blaze, especially one for whom amphetamine is a fun friend who causes trouble. What might’ve happened if Dr. F., circa my Carolina days at Davidson, hadn’t put me on another SSNRI like Cymbalta after Effexor made me manic in 2005.

Would it not have made sense, back then, to stay away from antidepressants like those. Writing that sentence, I recognize that I presented with depression before any manic behavior, & the fact that some tristimaniacs don’t know they are until an antidepressant makes them crazier than they before. Would that have led to any fewer funerals in my brain. Element of Blank.

Did those SSNRI’s supposed to help me—dare I even breathe the word heal—instead harm with its addition to the wild weather. A line of thought I scarcely think about if I can help it because it grows unbearable between a blink & the next.

How heal is an acid on the tongue. (Although the word behind this one, what I try not to think about, is cure.) Ashes when spoken about in proximity to bipolar disorder. Thinking about cures hurts when you’re chronically ill.

Even your care providers who coordinate & handle your treatment avoid the latter though, hopefully, they do speak to healing in a way that doesn’t further whatever desire to die may be playing its songs on repeat in your head.. Psychiatric nurse practitioner, therapist, even your general healthcare provider.

A discouraged word, cured. Its derivatives too. They encourage, instead, prevention & symptom management to promote mood regulation across the shifts in seasons & landscapes. Focus on cures can prove hazardous, deadly even, to the necessary acceptance if this illness isn’t to overdetermine your life.

Run it. Narrate it. Decreate it from inside out or the other way around. A termite-infested house once the structure’s no longer fit for habitation where the building is your brain. As an instance of reality, & subject to its own problems to be sure, chronic illness diagnosis changes your life for you. No Rilke’s “Archaic Torso of Apollo” required.

Reality’s also a word worth turning over. To mull, end over end, the syllables. Tested in the mouth. Where teeth. How do they ring in the ears, those four. Re-al-i-ty. How many other words have to fit so much inside their sounds? Tonight, God is the only one I can think of.

Dickinson believed the brain was the weight of.

And they will differ—if they do—
As Syllable from Sound

Lines, a poem Stevens would’ve loved, I like to imagine, also a poet of the mind by way of the body, & a poet of the body by way of the mind.

Like Dickinson, a poet inclined toward interior states that don’t readily lend themselves to the available words used in the prevailing way we do. This is why abstractions—words, image clusters, figures of speech—appear so often in their work. ‘Difficult’ work.

Stevens & Dickinson, equally, poets enamored with the phenomenal world for its own sake. Perhaps she more than he.

That damn word again, reality. Reality according to whom? By what heuristic. What order of reality. Facet, scale.

In what kind of time, also. Orientation in terms of space.

Or since all these pertain to reality filtered through sensorium. Realities is more precise. So, realities perceived by senses mundane or otherwise.

Then there’s reality completely outside you, unknowable. Some evenings.

41—

Walking Toby earlier, I felt it starting to happen. I could feel it beginning. Stir in the branches where there are branches.

Felt it more walking, air laden with moisture, but not distractingly so. 70s. Stirring again.

Autumn is what the day feels like. Inside, I mean. Not the house, any enclosure I’m in, but the dwelling my I lives in.

October instead of September. Deepening auroras. Leaves curled inward.

Ever close to ungrow. Photosynthesis wound down. Perhaps that’s what this is.

Perhaps also just today. This drained-of-some-colors feeling. Case of the lonelies.

A few minutes since the arrival of one of those. & I’d know that longing in my chest anywhere.

& my spirit what. Agitated air. Languor on repeat. A mood I most associate with summer.

Afternoons. Not unique to them, which I often link with it. Even words arrive slowly as if pulled to the surface from a place of a great pressure.

Pulled to the surface from—where? Language dredged from some depth where light’s not a given. Fragments from meteors.

As if from the vacuum of space. Pulled by a magnet, iron filings from half a world away.

Even my hand shapes these letters as I form them with a kind of insistence. Especially on a day when the sun really starts to shine in Scorpio.

Is that what led me to write languor or lonelies. If worry possesses a span.

fields overgrown & treacherous

day or night in the inscape

because this is a feelscape

loneliness has its forests

visibility’s no less perilous

in light of constant fog

unidentifiable enormous trees

Or, maybe, what loneliness has is a system of underground caverns where you shouldn’t go alone. Branches snag in thickets. Get turned around. Canopy-occluded sky.

The bitch of it all—sometimes you wake up there. How do you feel.

Awaken underneath the below, doesn’t matter where because it’s somewhere even if it’s there, not necessarily your choice.

Events, some charged w/the psychoanalytic sense of event. Losses & the embers left in bones because of them.

Except a wound’s a mouth unable to shut. You name it. It’s made someone dusk between sunset to total eclipse. & a long way down even when the descent beckons within you, fontanel to phalanges.

42—

Like the vertigo that can overtake when at a great height, looking around.

Skyscraper. Cliff. Bridge. Ledges, fatal if fallen from. Edge being the operative word.

How looking down as ground & sky switch places several times faster than you can blink, stomach in the throat, heart in your mouth, a sensation steals over you.

Every hair follicle you possess ashiver.

If you’ve been electrified before, you know a radiance threshold’s just around the corner.

In front of you—a verge that would be yawning like a mouth if it were a mouth. Vast is the point. Like you cannot believe.

& it’s so open, there in front of you—right there—it wouldn’t take anything at all.

A slip. If the steering wheel swerved. Car, flipped. If the not actual glass that looks like glass below your feet at the tower’s top gave way where you’re standing. &. &—

Anyone would finish knowing—then.

Dickinson knew. Part of what dizzies is this feeling within a feeling that happens when you encounter the lip of such a ledge & its inevitable, dangerous edges.

A feeling best if unsatisfactorily translated as you want to let go. Different from wanting to die, & also distinct if related to suicidal ideation. You’re picturing it, though, that ultimate instant maybe best rendered what happens next.

Where let go might mean step out. Leap &, yes, fall. But I’m talking about the topsy turvy inside the vertigo of it all. A feeling inside a feeling you may be barely aware of because consciousness processes so much & fast.

I’m not sure if suicide is where such a feeling arrives from. I don’t really think so. But it is true it comes from that interior place where death drive susurras suggest terrible things.

That’s one way to think about it. Nor to be confused with the deathwatch inside us all, running backward since we arrived on this scene. Biological fact—down to our DNA’s telomeres–-metaphor tells us the story of.

A couple seconds. That fast. Heartbeats & how they cling to time. A few eternities for most of us otherwise known as in a flash.

Some of us get lost in this or another eternity. Worse, we get stuck between them.

Like the blackness of space between stars.

Where nothingness itself vibrates.

Then there’s dark matter, no daylight surrounding where we are now. How do you feel.

Some fringe few of us—to refresh—fall through holes in the ground. Inside the loneliness forest, of course, & loneliness caverns because we couldn’t see where we were fucking going because of the mist.

Fog. It’s happening. All of it has happened. Except, inside.

43—

Autumn is like this sometimes. Aurora gone awry.

I refuse to believe its architect intended for serotonin to sunset wholesale. A chemical compound sliding into smithereens of amino acid chains.

Whatever it is that brings the S.A.D. today, which should still be a recognized thing.

Courtesy of today’s gloomcast.

44—

5:59pm—Wildly windy day up 281 back to Burnet. County wind advisory & 40mph gusts all afternoon.

Not even two hours since I wrote that sentence. Now being 7:41pm & the air is still as a tomb no living person has entered in several millennia.

Except for this cat whisker breath preceding breeze somewhere on skin.

Plenty of neighborhood surround. A dog a block or so to the northwest barking a remix on repeat.

Ever-faithful insect & amphibian orchestra.

Gasoline shamble of cars driving by the chainlink.

Drone of an airplane so high you can hear the engine whine while the contrails form.

Inaudible to any frequency my ears can hear, stars turn on above & around this little piece of planet aglow in the dark.

I don’t care that what I see shining from so far away might as well be forever is a past more ancient than I can fathom.

Even on the days I can’t see them, they comfort me.

If they’re the past—stars with their lightrays traveling fast as—they’re also memory.

Like the grandmother stars showing up in poems over recent years. Most recently in the elegies I wrote for Jean Valentine.

That conceit—useful fiction Stevens thought so vital for the creatures that we are he called it necessary—comforts me. Perhaps I called it necessary, not Stevens. His was a necessary angel.

But it comforts me to imagine stars as archives of everything that’s happened. Even if there are periods of my life burned from memory because of mania or depression. Sections of stills excised without a trace.

They haven’t ceased to exist as long as one of those infinity-sized pinpricks shines.

45—

Answering that battery of questions invoked much more of the past than the previous half-year. On a scale of not true or ever, sometimes, often—

Questions about specific mental illness symptoms. Psychosis, compulsion, obsession.

Others not so readily. None predictably clustered together. Nearly all as I statements.

A few brought me up short—how to answer—because they’re so much of my personality. Daydreaming. Disorganized. Feeling lonely.

Never, sometimes, very often. Since you can add a note to a response, mine began with something worthy of an Evanescence or Linkin Park song. I’ve felt lonely my entire life.

Long as I can remember, which is to say since age 4, I’ve felt what language eventually told me was loneliness.

It would be overdramatic—a favored word my almost-husband ascribed to me often—if long as I can remember meant constantly. I simply mean lonely’s arrival on my early childhood scene marked the moment when Eden cindered.

A fallen star. Came from where. Arrived when exactly. In the word itself, loneliness contains a forest & somehow, also, manages to carve a cavern system out of limestone that beggars mycorrhizae.

Inscape age 4, age 5. Preschool at church. In the country because it was a farmer’s church. Kindergarten. At home I played with airplanes & dinosaurs. Collected feathers & the mussel shells keeping safe a personal span of sunset.

Climbed trees to peek inside bird nests I could reach, hoping for a fledgling to foster.

Loved playing dolls with my younger sister & wearing her dress-up clothes. Loved jewelry. Period. Rings most of all.

Feel of a floor-length skirt or dress. My mother’s slip, a second skin.

Loneliness showed up—or it woke up—when my interests became a problem.

Passions, because precision’s what I’m after, proved to be a problem. Desire.

In my parents’ eyes, because who else would’ve been troubled so early? Liberty Hill, Texas, in old & new parsonages.

There was a Halloween there where older girls in the church babysat & dressed me up in a My Little Pony costume. We did not celebrate All Hallows—didn’t dress up or trick-or-treat—& I was old enough to know my parents probably wouldn’t approve.

Fingernails painted the very first time. Sky blue.

Circa when I was still allowed to watch Katherine Hepburn as Jo in Little Women & the PBS Anne of Green Gables. Allowed to watch My Little Pony.

I wanted to wear long skirts like theirs.

Wearing them got me in trouble.

Troubled expressions on their faces, mom’s & dad’s, ones I know now meant they’d been lifting their eyes to the hills & knew already no help would come for this.

46—

My family moved to Hondo in 1989. Kindergarten began that Fall. I met loneliness on the first day of first grade in central Texas.

Wanting to be a girl moved to the country with me. A church of farm families with several boys my age. Dressing up in girl clothes followed, too.

Trouble came. Escalated. Those boys were creatures recently landed from another planet. Not because they were country & I wasn’t, though that was true until I got out there. Some kind of undiscovered humanoid.

They didn’t know what to do with—how to relate to me. Animals alarmed by a sharply unfamiliar scent.

1990. When the bullying really began.

Between 1st and 3rd grades, the VHS tapes I checked out from the public library included Strictly for the Birds (1990 documentary narrated by George Plimpton), Rikki-tikki-tavi (1975), & The Hobbit (1977).

Marine biology. Dinosaurs. Batman & X-Men cartoons. Airplanes & WWII aircraft in particular. Aforementioned ornithology.

1990-1993, loneliness set up shop & brought all of its aviaries with it. Took up residence in limbs. Especially the chest cavity where feeling aches when we realize our chest hurts because of something we feel.

Between 1st & 3rd grades, I was taken to a psychologist. Twice at most. Unsure what kind. Because I wanted to be a girl sometimes & liked wearing skirts & dresses. Could turn out queer.

She was nice. I remember that. Zero interest in talking to this woman I didn’t know about what I was getting into trouble for when I didn’t understand why I liked the things I liked or why something I loved was wrong.

1990-1993, when I learned wrong was with me. It was inside me.

47—

Even more beautiful day than yesterday if that’s possible, 10:32am. Sky, clear like the light of the mind. Should I say soul?

What I do know is my energy level doesn’t equal what day offers.

Energy—where is it? Earth readies, true, for the seasonal sleep to conserve.

There’s the messiness of practice far, far from the empyrean where theory.

For how long would it be precise to say. A few days low. Not all day every day. Not necessarily afternoon when wattage, historically, has dipped in the PM.

Some ebb today. Less than low tide since waking. Yesterday, too.

Not disaster-level down, just the kind of damn ennui that makes you wonder why so much feels not worth any bother.

First thought—best thought?—to write why everything doesn’t feel worth it.

Ennui isn’t the right word, I realize.

Acedia’s the better word for this constellation of affects.

Noonday like a demon indeed.

I feel far.

(Hi, extremes.)

Here we go again.

I feel far.

This afternoon, 5:27pm, too many.

Gaps. Rifts. Interstices. Removes. What it feels like.

Evening now. Farness of things. Even, seemingly, near.

48—

Another beautiful morning, though not energizing me into feeling like a person.

Somewhat like a human being. So there is that.

Less, a person—

What does a person? How does a. I’ve been wondering the same.

A person bathes, changes clothes regularly, especially underwear.

Regular as in every or other day. Something like socially acceptable that.

Teeth brushed. Laundry once a week at least. Dishes not in the sink.

Clothes where clothes belong. Bedding washed weekly or every two.

Surfaces relatively free of clutter & dust, as life should be—right?

Then there’s the all-important job, which especially makes a person a—

This particular edge—its problem—is different from the some people actually inhabit their bodies problem. (With my thanks, here’s looking at you all the way up in Alaska, Olena Kalytiak Davis.)

Different from the human was God’s secret name problem. (World without end, thank you, Fanny Howe.)

2:55pm, & these words pulled like splinters.

3:59pm, & I very much want to write, approach what could use a light on it, & words still stick in the ground like roots that don’t want to be pulled up.

Or they scatter & blow about, leaves that won’t decide to be earth or air.

As for the invisible thing that moves what’s seen.

Little hope of that when breezes don’t want to be found.

49—

Words cobble together with no particular reason or rhyme for what shows up.

Lusterless. Where seem ends & feel begins.

Alphabet’s shelter, fragile. Breakable as breath.

Leaden. Not poetic. Not ‘beautiful.’ Lyricism, whatever.

Especially this week, the only kind of faith I’ve managed to practice is a faith in the sentence. Who’d have thought I’d ever write that about the sentence.

Faith in the sentence, I’ve discovered, to the faith I have in the poetic line. To carry. To hold. To through.

It leads, as language does. Thomas Wyatt, in the 1530s, sang this true in fourteen lines of a new form he & other early modern poets brought into English. Fainting I follow.

That’s what this is—what I’ve been doing—practicing that faith. Taking lithium daily is a faith practice, too.

Trying not to focus on if this is strong faith—or writing! A sentence unfurls, fractals or spirals, then another one. No telling where it’s gonna go in any direction of time or space, memory or idea. Still, a practice. A practice that sentences—grammatical, not juridical—to make sense of the words that appear.

Is it possible, for example, that the serotonin shitshow festival going on for three days now, it’s 8:14pm, can really be explained as more than a week on 30mg of Cymbalta instead of 60mg.

Empiricism tempts because it gives a receipt others can follow like a trail. It’s important to have a trail to follow. Otherwise, you & your loved ones will be looking for the trail markers in the Coastal Bend the day after a hurricane. Terrain & meteorological objective correlatives for you know what.

Tonight, also to say today, all of it feels woefully inadequate an explanation for these funereal intensities. Antidepressant withdrawal reaction to lowered dose.

Intensified, too, various radioactive things hanging around within, the glow of the isotopes blotted by periodic cloud cover due to mile-high winds.

Persephone as a boy on the underworld floor.

50—

One of the thinnest place days of the year between here & hereafter since humans have reckoned time for the longest in the isles of my Celtic ancestry, & much longer than Christianity’s been the new kid on the block. All Hallows, more commonly known as Halloween now.

Originally called Samhain, the last fire festival celebrated to usher in the new year, this last holiday celebrates how thin & even sheer the border is between what we call the living & the dead.

What we know—mediated by the arrival of Christianity in the 400s CE in Ireland & 500s in England by monks indigenous to the islands subject to evangelism’s bias—the four fire festivals calendered the agricultural year.

Numbering last, Samhain is the fallen-leaves-end of the year.

Rime of frost on every surface to announce. Winter harbinger.

Imbolc falls on the same day as Candlemas (Feb 1), a confluence with no accident in it. It’s also the feast day of St. Brigid of Ireland, who shares more than a name with the Irish goddess who’s a member of the Tuatha de Danaan along with The Dagda & The Morrigan. The attributes & character of St. Brigid follow those of her pre-Christian counterpart closely enough it can be hard to tell where Christianity begins & indigenous Irish belief ends.

This is why, when I became Catholic, I did so on the feast day of St. Brigid.

If Imbolc is the very earliest signs of Spring, the dithyrambics of Beltane (May 1) channel the full fructifying force powering the cells in our bodies & world around us. & once the fruit’s ripened on the vine, Lughnasadh (Aug 1) arrives just in time for harvest.

Here we are, & here we go, into the interstices again. Gloam of the year in all its precipice & brink.

Space between the phenomenal world & what falls outside perceptible’s purview.

Or near as. Crossing, & also uncrossing, us. When what separates us from the other side of forever—veil, we call it, otherworld, more recently heaven—goes so threadbare you can see through it.

Today in particular. Traditionally, tonight since that’s been synonymous with mystery & the unknown approximately forever.

Less & less daylight the closer to fallow & sleep.

Winding down because it’s the cigarette butt end of the year.

Fruit falls from its own weight, seeds left to be turned over in the earth.

Death & resurrection, y’all.

On the ascetic side of the sublime till Spring.

Inanna at the first of seven gates that strip her of godhood as she descends.

Today’s card, it’s 10:14pm, four of Pentacles.

Earthward, homeplace. Touched by those intersecting with others in us.

Samhain’s a time to let go of the ghosts who’ve haunted because you haven’t been ready to banish them.

An orientation of space & time helping you hear what the ancients inside you sing.

51—

Was it yesterday, or was it this morning, when I realized it doesn’t matter if I write a shitty sentence—I mean in George Herbert’s something understood sense—because I can write another one.

Return with a miner’s headlamp to spelunk these sentences for ore.

Not looking for answers so much as trying to stay on the move toward wherever I wander &, meanwhile, tracking signs when/as they appear.

A symptom, itself a species of sign, hides in plain sight.

That’s why they’re there. Forest-deep, so you’ll miss them. Even or likely for a while. It really depends.

Let’s count the ways brain chemistry & my mullioned mental habitus have conspired to fuck with me.

Up later at night notwithstanding Seroquel & sleeping less. Appetite, somewhere between roughly & halfway screwed.

Sackcloth & ashes of unwashed clothes & body.

Inconsistent verbal concentration due to a language grown unwieldy.

(Then again, it’s 12:18 pm & I now write in my car with my notebook balanced on top of Alejandra Pizarnik’s poems while I get the Honda’s oil changed. I’m not sure if this is a good part of the brave new late capitalist world or not.)

(How’s that for concentration & acuity.)

52—

Increased stuttering. Check. Single & multi-word phrases as a signal of agitation & upset. Check. Melancholy’s familiar vista.

Emotions with their safety settings turned off because wild animals chewed the knobs to shit.

Neither so good nor regular. Tear ducts liable to go haywire, lose it just a little more than they should, thought or perception. Due to memory or just taking the world in & responding in kind.

7:01pm. Not good, not regular. Not just the maudlin usual like the Magdalene of legend. Overtaxed central processing metaphysical unit.

Failsafe switches, fused.

Feelings wily as quicksilver will worry a vortex into place.

This no holds barred weather bears very little resemblance to the depressive climes that’ve wandered in & out of me as I have them since the equinox.

Ongoingness is an issue.

Cloudburst in the cranium. Only if something sets a storm off.

If the emotional pH of the situation grows closer to acidic or basic.

That’s the strange thing. Depression’s longdark or deepgloom doesn’t usually carry enough of a static charge to ignite. Lightning rod.

Nor does the voltage spike tornado season thunderstorm style in Texas. Not when under the influence, it’s 10:24pm, of the unholy ghost. (Thank you, Jane Kenyon.)

Cymbalta withdrawal in Autumn? Depression with a cocaine habit.

Never a shortage of things that can get set on fire in the head. Anything in the world that can burn can also be found there.

An art installation featuring all the old & classic torchsongs about the failures, scars more wound than scar.

Wounds smoldering, still.

53—

All Souls Day. Día de los difuntos. De los muertos. What’s normally thought of when we think of hallowing.

What follows, it’s 3:31pm & a few hours after those initial three sentences, day when ancestors are remembered. They lean in.

Not just a few generations behind your own, but centuries backward. Before genealogy got written down. Birth, baptismal, marriage & death records kept by the church if, like mine, your people came into contact with Christianity between the Middle Ages & approximately now.

They hang around, too, a thread that ties in the same way mitochondria remembers our first mothers as beautiful as Lucy’s reconstructed, older than paleolithic face.

They’ve been traveling the long spiral way here—DNA’s double helix—on the other side of Central Texas. Just as everyone’s ancestors do from wherever in the world at any point in time wherever you are.

They are close. —If you want them to be.— Today they especially want to be, it’s 5:35pm, as this is the one day of the year contact can be made. No cantrips required.

—Provided you subscribe to a phenomenology or epistemology that admits the existence of spirits, ghosts, the departed—a credence by no means limited to animism or the stereotypical occult.—

Depth psychology. Archetype. Transpersonal. Whatever avenue you walk down inside your head, along with every switchback to heart, soul. Good luck.

Labyrinth & spiral, the expected images. It could also be a stepped on aluminum can or a window before a flying object shatters it &, then, the shatter of that glass. You pick.

Memory of a smell. Image or taste. Cardinal. Moth.

Overhead hawk cry. Breath in or out, they lean in.

54—

Temperature falling like a finger on a keyboard, treble to bass.

I almost want to say Glaswegian weather juxtaposed with Texan thunder punctuating the house with a shake.

6:06pm, but I wrote those earlier sentences before noon.

Wingbone, seaglass, spindrift.

Was 50F most of the day, now 48F & descending.

Precipitation south & east of San Antonio. Halfway to Houston & coast.

At least air can be counted on for a near saturation of moisture.

12:20am, so technically now it’s the 4th of November, more than halfway through the Seroquel hour & I’ve only marked weather & time.

A few more sentences before sleep. Lithium levels in the blood good, so dosage will remain the same. Talking to A. tomorrow at 4. Therapy will likely involve taking stock of last week’s neural pathway dumpster fire.

Piss-poor self-image, to begin with.

Social life equally shambled. Maybe as derelict as my professional life.

That one question among the battery of them. A series really. How many friends do you have? How often do you talk to or see them?

My just-fucking-sad answers.

I wanted to lie because of the sad facts. How withdrawn Covid & quarantine made me in addition to the preexisting dissertation solitude. How breakup & moving worsened it.

A calculus to make you want to die.

Precisely the kind of reaction a psychologist would want to know.

Friday will be the second—in person, this time—assessment.

What (else) is wrong with me?

That open, endless (wrongheaded) question.

There’s that word again.

55—

Another gloomsday, if less crepuscular.

Emotional safety settings on/of the depths are working as intended, at least.

If only the waterworks could.

Two more doses of Cymbalta. Thursday, it’s 2:42pm, gunmetal & silvered sky.

Almost overwhelming narratives spun out of mind &/or brain.

A terrible corner where SSNRI-marooned neuroreceptors have things to say.

Story of if this (unemployed, 38, living with my parents) is as good as it’s gonna get (what it feels like), what’s the point (whatever this it is)?

Early into the Seroquel hour. It’s 9:16pm. Not that a soon surrendered evening’s bad.

Words, neither early nor readily. Fatigue, according to Ockham’s razor.

Rolling with an emotional system all too willing to operate outside of intended parameters remains a slog.

How long will it take lithium to work its into sinew & marrow. Thirty days.

Not a heal-all. I think it’s helping. Remain hopeful. By which I mean, a pink capsule says good morning & bids me goodnight.

56—

How do you put your life together after a breakdown?

How do you learn how to trust your mind again?

Breakdown denotes singularity. Full stop. Afterward, an aftermath because of what a singularity is.

What a singularity is—when a breakdown—some dead ends stay that way. Even, maybe especially, if they weren’t always.

Wherever mind, as horizon, extends—

Being able to return is a condition. The same can’t be said for the breakdowns that are singularities, or the singularities sometimes appearing as a breakdown.

Unless we’re speaking of ruins & debris fields—

If a question is a place, or can be, lodgings can leave a lot to be desired. Linens little better than the room & every bit in as need of a wash.

A fire blasted meadow. Water warped baseboards.

57—

It’s been pointed out to me that both questions are good. Also, they each proceed from the presupposition that I’m broken.

Is there a positive way to describe a breakdown save that compound of words crushed together until they metaphor?

Trusting the mind. What’s called thinking.

Feelings processed by thought into what we call emotions.

The memory fields. Firmware updates brains can need.

But A. was right about it being important when an intense, or a ragged, during an unhinged day, to be mindful of what the past month has witnessed. Done, moved toward, the past 31 days.

To recap—found a new psychiatric nurse practitioner. Started lithium. Weaned off Cymbalta almost completely. Went to an online support group.

Full psychological assessment ⅔ done, including a Rorschach test.

What is illness if not a baseline like a control, violated. Whereas a chronic illness, a shoreline with extra-efficient erosion.

All of the above, nowhere near accessible to entirely too many even with the health insurance marketplace. Requiring access to the internet, telephone, in addition to the presence of mind.

Chronic means few guarantees that mostly aren’t good regarding illness progression. This alters your terrain.

Not because said terrain’s changed. Your perspective has. Diagnoses do.

Taken to a psychologist between 1st & 3rd grade ensures diagnostic situations after roil with shame, anguish, worry.

Small chance those long-sleeping ghosts won’t wake up. Except, ghosts don’t ever sleep.

Also true—going on lithium. Off Cymbalta. All of that rewriting, overwriting, underwriting the neurology of this noggin.

All that circuitry? It’s really a palimpsest.

58—

Yesterday afternoon had the same cast of light as this.

It played out like the sort of semi autobiographical story I’d like to brainstorm. I even thought so as the assessment happened.

Far less stimulating than I’d hoped—even at an intellectual level—because none of it involved conversation.

No dialogue beyond initial pleasantries, not a convo because rapport was being established mid sentence during the little we spoke. Little to no time to narrate my experiences.

Nerves extending past skin’s permeable verge.

What it feels like. Cobwebs get into stumpwater.

Scar tissue nearly worn away. Ridgeline faint on each thigh for 19 years & counting.

59—

Depressed, I’m sure it’ll say. Manic too, or previously has been. Definitely not now. Anxiety—is water wet?

Disempoweringly negative self-image.

Something to do with religion, which could also be phrased, everything to do with religion.

One questionnaire long, the other drastically shorter. Questions overlapped to the level of their wording.

Like a choose your own pathology adventure staring at the ghost animating your machine.

Particularly, the marathon one was a rolodex of what the DSMV finds wrong with people.

A psychiatric Never Have I Ever game in approximately 150 questions.

Re: aforementioned mood disorder & anxiety. Re: your very own Freudian family romance. Re: phobias & their infinite iterations.

Re: paranoia, because sometimes the bastards are out to get you down whether they’re Tea Party or Trumpist Republicans, or the sorry Log Cabin ones deluding themselves into believing the party gives a shit about them or any queer life. I.e., Dan Patrick’s rabid obsession with trans people.

Re: psychosis. Mesmerizing & terrible flowers. Grandiose, paranoid, florid, euphoric. Hallucinations visual, aural. Psychic messages. Not this decade, praise.

60—

How many ways can the mind go against itself?—its miraculous ability to heal itself notwithstanding. Sabotage. Deceit. Betray.

How old was I when I first called my body Judas because the body betrays. Flesh fades like the lilies of the field till they disintegrate to dust.

Mortality as betrayal. As if body sold itself out. But deceiving & betraying what? As if it were an act of will. Conscious, volitional. Chose the deathwatch in each of the body’s trillions of cells.

Curious to be in my late 30s, it’s 5:27pm, looking back on an image captured with the wattage of an ikon I first read in Bidart’s “The Sacrifice.”

Not because the linkage w/body & Judas was the same. Somehow, Bidart knew the person to write the history of solitude is Judas. & 20 years later, I think, how much more Judas as the mind. Perhaps the trope of this dusking decade.

Because what does someone answering yes to a significant set of those diagnostic questions experience if not a kind of multidimensional solitude in the echo chamber or wind tunnel or atom smasher upstairs?

A solitude that couldn’t give a fuck about the geopolitics of neural pathways. Or, the world inside that’s part figment of your imagination. A secularist might even put it as the quote unquote soul.

Other side of the gate. Sometimes that side’s the world & isn’t, others.

Locked. Transported. Metamorphosed. Absconded. Translated. Gone.

Lonely in here, & lonely out there, either way. Duration includes fractals & parabolas.

Anyone living with a chronic mental illness could write a history of solitude.

Could that be what this is? These alphabet figures & shapes I’ve been making. Partly that. Also field guide. Baedeker for biochemical elsewhere.

Celan’s letter en route, hopefully, toward a you that includes me.

61—

But I was recollecting the day, as if the plot of a sad story transposed in terms of overcast.

Assessment done &, it being rather chilly, I wanted soup. Specifically, Panera’s autumn squash soup. A marvel of capitalist Amerika. Sweet, savory comfort.

Headed to the nearest Panera a few miles down 281 from the office of the psychologist handling the assessment.

281 being a busy highway on any given day. 1pm Friday was bumping.

A reckless driver nearly hit me hauling ass into the lane on my right, still two lines left of where I needed to be almost as soon as I exited.

So, not that Panera. There’s another one near a Half Price Books toward home.

Walked out with Galloping Hour, Pizarnik’s French poems, & the first copy of Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf I’ve had in at least 10 years.

San Antonio may be one of the top ten cities in the US, but that doesn’t mean you’ll find a Panera a fraction as often as Starbucks.

Up to Huebner Oaks, past Huebner Road. Then remembered it doesn’t have a drive thru, which didn’t work for me at all. Other Paneras were at least 15 minutes away. Too hungry & dayfrayed for that.

Wendy’s nuggets it was.

62—

last dose of Cymbalta today

so many waited minutes

to write that since May

or so of last year’s wake

quiet brainsky celebration

63—

Not to jinx it, but driving back to Burnet there were several times I stood on the precipice just before tears.

Thought here we go again. Maybe. 3 days will tell.

A Fresh Air interview where Terry Gross talked to Annie MacDowell about the Netflix show Maid. The long-term mental illness of the character she plays bulls her way through all kinds of china shops & persons, including her daughter the maid. Played by MacDowell’s daughter irl. Wreck of a mother, inspired partly by MacDowell’s own. She herself, MacDowell, said she didn’t herself contend.

A mental illness the show does not specifically disclose.

Manic, a word used several times in the interview, not unlike how I hear people use the word bipolar to describe an emotionally dynamic person, with the exception that MacDowell & Gross were not using it as an ableist slur.

64—

My niece is the most beautiful reason to quit smoking I’ve ever seen.

.

Pilgrim Kin

Kazim Ali, Bright Felon
Matsuo Bashō, Narrow Road into the Interior
Frank Bidart, “The Sacrifice,” “Ulanova at Forty-Six at Last Dances Before A Camera Giselle”
Elizabeth Bishop, “At the Fishhouses”
Leonora Carrington, Down Below
Anne Carson, Eros the Bittersweet, Men in the Off Hours
Paul Celan, “The Meridian”
Michelle Cliff, Claiming an Identity They Taught Me to Despise
Olena Kalytiak Davis, “If You Are Asked”
Emily Dickinson, Poems, Selected Letters
Marguerite Duras, The Lover
Carolyn Forché, Blue Hour
Jorie Graham, “The Way Things Work”
George Herbert, “Prayer (I)”
Gerard Manley Hopkins, Journals
Fanny Howe, O’Clock, The Wedding Dress, The Winter Sun
Jane Kenyon, “Having It Out With Melancholy”
Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star
Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being
Wallace Stevens, “The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm”
Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace
Diane Wolkstein & Samuel Kramer, Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth
Charles Wright, A Short History of the Shadow
Thomas Wyatt, “Whoso List to Hunt”

Forms of Weather

John Fry

1—

It’s hard not to let hope run a neon colors riot all over my insides.

To corral the roan herd that are neurotransmitters spooked by a lightning storm again.

2—

Like Jesus calming the storm as Christ walked on it. A florid simile, but an accurate image for how a medication (in theory, ideally in the Platonic sense, before the psychoactive agents enter the body) takes things down several severity indices. In extremis, too.

Brink, less able to exert its particular gravitic force unchecked.

A miracle on earth in the hell of your head. Who wouldn’t want one of those?

what does clear mean—when
you think

where clearly means how water
runs

its liquid feet—prints that
evanesce

3—

Westernized medicine views illness as an isolatable set of symptoms with causes traceable as the geolocation of a cellphone.

Causality at its most positivistic. Psychiatry, arguably the most. If the brain is a biochemical supercomputer, troubleshooting system glitches is all there is, right?

Question of mind

—as counterpoint to brain—a bow at rest on cello strings.

Storms don’t arise ex nihilo, even, & especially psychological ones. Or is it psychiatric ones. As if out of some primeval parthenogenesis instead of the welter & wonder of alive.

Underworld floor. Crash site vicinity. Debris fields. Ruins.

Wanting to die—not in the sense of suicidal ideation so much as a desire that the inevitable extirpation of carbon-based lifeforms would hurry up the temporal decay resulting in coal, peat.

Death is a convenient container because it’s large enough to devour the overriding need to distance your carbon-based self from the unbearable specifics of you.

I don’t know where the nonlinear clouds got started, appearing like bubbles out of my toddling nephew’s bubble gun. When I began walking in & out of them.

How, where the weathervane tilted. Is that even the right way to think about it.

Lost finds you in a bewilderment time & place. A dandelion seed among a windblown handful, scattering while you watch.

4—

Air almost crisp this morning. Seasonal auroras have arrived, even in central Texas during the late-stage capitalist throes of climate change.

Leaves every color flame might emit on the light spectrum, but dyed by its gradually growing ever more acute.

Advent, a season unto itself. Sea change on the levels of air & light that work with your wiring. Unless they don’t. Lunar cycle’s systole & diastole punctuating tides, a chronology as ancient as solar, infinites suspended between them.

5—

what’s been reverberating ye
olde
skull bowl can be a kind home

heredity’s a terrible calculus
concerning mood disorders

this particular fire in the head
could a descendant theoretically
ignite

6—

If there is a God, & I do believe the Grandmothers exist, I’d beg said divinity. I do beg that my sister’s children be spared any & all of the anguish I didn’t choose. That it would pass from them as if it were a cup on the order of the bitter Jesus didn’t want to taste in Gethsemane.

I would light a thousand novenas. Say five thousand rosaries. Walk from Burnet, Texas, to the basilica of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe on Tepeyac hill, CMDX, on my knees.

Could I spare them—how I spared any children I might have by not having them—I would, knowing that’s not how the divine works. So, I take my lithium morning & night like a monk saying the liturgy of the hours, & I pray for my nephew & niece.

7—

Third panel of a triptych on the fourth day of the third element on the periodic table cycling through the bloodstream.

Numerology could stand to calm down. Really.

Sleepiness doesn’t count as a side effect for a medication if you take it before climbing your nightowlish ass & ragamuffin mind into bed.

You learn to live with the minor ways the body can be an awkward place to live so that it’s bearable in the major ways.

8—

Apocalypse is always sexier than welcoming the stranger or showing hospitality to the most outcast in your social situation.

Depression sucks royally, but at least the underworld has a floor.

Whereas mania? There’s no ceiling to the sky.

As early as 3pm, light can begin to drain from the picture gone sepia or gray.

Very like a tintype print.

Meanwhile, a constellation of things turn, making the beautiful mess we call the self.

Debris fields add up. Where debris means aftermath & field. Where the breakdown.

Visible wreckage corresponds to surveyed landscape. Iron filings drawn to a magnet.

Friable as the wish never to become manic again. Where wish means fear.

Everybody needs their very own early warning system custom-made for whatever hell the mental roommates can kick up. Then there are the wounds whose mouths have yet to shut.

9—

Memory’s not subject to chronology because it’s mercury.

I’ve been examining tesserae again. Looking to make sense when language disintegrated to syllable shreds. Where.

To make sense of its shatter in language.

words don’t always sit still
bee swarm & geese’s flying v

down a page water runs
sparks ignite to ash

As if all the wildlife inside you had gone the way of every deciduous leaf.

As if antagonism between spirit & flesh were the price of the incarnational ticket.

Gnosticism’s racket. Embodiment as cosmic accident.

Loneliness can dissolve the limestone of the spine as water does a cave.

Seeing as soul isn’t localized in any particular part of the body, punishing the body to lash at the soul is the next best thing.

feeling equal parts roadkill &
reject

ready to detonate like a
dandelion

head a West Texan
thunderstorm

10—

In Conyers, Georgia, I met an octogenarian Trappist who told me it was possible to be gay & Catholic in 2002. First of several times I crept near conversion before I did, sixteen years & a lifetime later.

His smile answered the anguish in my eyes. Ending our meeting before Vespers, he told me he wanted to spend time with his sweetheart, Jesus.

11—

Scaffolding subject to erosion, what holds heaven over earth, suspended over the abyss.

Metaphysics—the interface of epistemology & phenomenology. A both/and.

Wore the scent of a smoker about all of my thens.

12—

All day winds have finally brought what they were carrying. Clouds striated with lightning. Entire northern horizon a flash.

The part of me that processes emotions tends toward the iconoclastic, according to an astrological algorithm that reinforces my Aquarian moon’s need to be sui generis. Without actually explaining anything.

Inaudible thunder. Coruscation, an announcement thunder will drum soon.

If it weren’t such a cold front in the form of a lightning one, plus who knows meteorology what else, I’d stand in the downpour so it’d continue the wind’s work as a pumice stone for worry.

13—

What does water not welcome into itself. It being mostly what we are.

Ensconced on the couch with me, Toby dislikes thunder & lightning like most dogs, but it’s nice to observe serious weather going down without any breaking loose behind my eyes.

An SSRI-induced manic episode can intensify or worsen the progression of bipolar disorder.

Writing’s on the wall. It’s been there awhile.

14—

Every day is a journey, & the journey itself is home.

Leave it to Bashō to go straight to the interior.

A beautiful idea. Somewhat like Ram Dass saying at the end of the day. At the end of the day in ordinary time or not. At the end of the day we’re just walking each other home.

An ancient, holy tradition as old as sojourn. Bashō doesn’t mention the possibility of not having to journey alone because solitude is his focus.

On said journey while being with.

Feelscape is what we walk through.

Call it the narrative field the conscious mind tells itself about itself. Details & plot points supplied by the sub & unconscious archives throughout the day. Past & present meander like vagabond time.

15—

So far, so good. But edges get jagged if aloneness is more perspective.

Valid reasons might exist for feeling this way, but probably not enough to justify feeling how a moonscape looks.

Buddhism, like the Zen schools contemporary with Bashō, might describe that flawed ignorance.

Not flawed in the sense of fucked up. That’s too close to the sense of wrong that theology lodges in the bones of Christian children.

Mahayana Buddhism teaches we’re already enlightened. Have been always.

We just haven’t realized that—

(Or we haven’t remembered it—)

Mistaken, because separateness is as much mirage as self.

It’s still uncomfortable being alive. A truth important enough to Buddhism to be called noble.

Singularity of being in a body.

Veil ripped asunder, folks.

16—

I’ll say it again. Being in a body is a singularity.

The fundamentally fucked neverending exile story. About you being an alien in a person suit. Or maybe the other way around. Not really a person, regardless.

Inhabiting your body. Not equally easy for all.

I’m not the only one with questions & complaints for Incarnation Management.

17—

Tibetan Buddhism compares the clarity of the mind’s true nature to the clear sky stretched blue forever.

Dickinson’s The Brain—is wider than the Sky—& then some.

Dukkha, the Pali word often translated as suffering where the eight-fold path’s concerned, doesn’t originate in or with us.

Not even at the level of mind, or self by another name, does psychological or psychiatric anguish begin inside it in Buddhist psychology. Such states begin in the form of visiting forces.

In the sense that they’re guests. Temporary, very long-term if allowed. Forces not in the sense of anything otherwordly, unless that’s one of your frequencies.

Force a thought carries. Emotion as volt.

So force could be the wrecked array of whatever constellates a depressive episode or mania’s ruinous path. The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.

But sometimes we forget—perhaps didn’t stop to ask when—they arrived. Not asking, or forgetting this, permits them to stay. Where they proceed to stick to everything like hair rubbed against a balloon.

Visiting forces will move right in. No lease signed with the psyche. No reservations made with the mental concierge.

Forces that wound aren’t all equally grievous, true.

It’d be simplistic & glib to say, Hey there queer Christian discontent. Great news! That sense you’ve had circa age 5 that something’s wrong with you. How God’s gonna smite you. No need to freak out anymore.

It’s just one of those visiting forces.

Theodicies stopped compelling me when I realized they were doomed to fail—to begin with—while driving all of us insane.

Dickinson, again, from a letter dated 1860—those great countries in the blue sky of which we don’t know anything.

18—

What a relief. What a goddamn relief for everyone whose lives have been jacked from the jump courtesy of the dogma known as original sin. The notion of something originally sinful lodged within us, somewhere, crests across the horizon of you like locusts filling a biblical sky. It just feels like that plague. The insects are thoughts buzzing in hidden corners. Sin as in something unspeakable. A something alive inside of you. Awake.

Why does said it exist? It just is.

& if inside you—a lor or even a little bit—it is you.

outcast / prodigal / exile / abomination / anathema / pariah / basket case / wreck /

What a motherfucking relief to be offered by Buddhism a psychology & a metaphysic that doesn’t begin with wrong. With sin.

blue is where—that

brain & sky forever

cloudless afternoon

That is what we are. Not the clouds that build & disassemble themselves whenever weather. Those would be the visiting forces like a severe thunderstorm warning & likelihood of hail. Or a few of your mental roommates you thought had always lived there.

We’re what the clouds form across.

19—

What apple doesn’t want to be bitten?

Sometimes you need to chase an unfound limit to its edge. Or, limits find you with an unfailing that’s uncanny.

Not like Rimbaud didn’t tell you, baby. He thought we knew. Je est un autre.

No need to find the event horizon after all the light in the skull’s changed colors from natural or chemical substance. Being alive in a body subject to time will take you there.

It’s implacable like a dogday heat index in South Texas in July.
If that doesn’t do it, childhood or adolescence or adulthood will.

Courting ruin, a fool errand.

20—

In Down Below, Leonora Carrington details the attempt to write about the experience of madness, the difficulty of articulating what you’ve experienced in language when it flies in & out of language like a moth looking for a light source.

I am afraid I am going into fiction, truthful but incomplete, for lack of some details which I cannot conjure up today.

That’s the hard part. Even with language’s ability to thread tatters. Cloth scraps threadbare everywhere.

Without recourse to invention—fabula versus historia, as a fourteenth-century monk in England would reckon things—how can you make sense of the discontinuous.

Writing still legible on paper that’s been burned. Pieces of film burned on both edges. I’m not computer literate enough to conjure an image for broken code without imagining the Matrix.

How do you make sense of the discontinuous couplets mumbled from no oracular mouth delirious from the underground vapors of Delphi. Memories shorn of meaningful narrative context during the indeterminacy of breakdown.

21—

Meanwhile, every pecan leaf still holding out their photosynthesizing hopes dances. Waving their veined limbs as winds bring colder temps than they’ve felt in months.

Save for some cirrus, an unadulterated sky.

2:57pm light dappled through trees. Shadows branch & tremble on grass as if they were clouds with the not-new chainlink demarcating a sky on the ground.

As below, so above, & wind’s got something to do with it.

22—

October now, so physics accomplishes what I feel as afternoon unravels.

Got a call from the psychologist’s office I was referred to for diagnostic assessment by my psychiatric nurse practitioner. They called BCBS to confirm my benefits only to discover my Obamacare HMO outsources ‘behavioral health’ somewhere else.

Confusing, because the diagnostician found by my psych NP was chosen because she was in network. But she cannot be what she’s listed as being in network to provide without it being very expensive because that’s a behavioral health thing.

Trying to close the hermeneutic circle of health insurance logic where mental health (prevention & treatment) is concerned imperils your own. Even because of something as simple as one word opposed to another, which means the same thing often enough in usage to be sometimes synonymous.

My government-subsidized BCBS HMO covers basically everything health-related under its umbrella except dental. Re: any of the body’s organ systems & the processes they oversee. Specialists needed for adequate care. After the referral an HMO requires, of course. Specialists I could see for anything from my skin to my spleen with insurance covering it.

Not so if the organ is the brain. Or, if it is the brain, the issue needs to be neurological. Epilepsy, migraines, dementia, stroke. Or some such distinction, because my Kafkaesque HMO distinguishes between brain & mind.

Brain. Mind. You’d think those meant equivalent things, seeing as we use them interchangeably on a daily basis. It would stand to reason—one might argue—but the identical twin births of psychology & psychiatry muddled things in the 19th century. I’m not sure philosophy helped anymore then than now.

Diseases of the brain, on the one hand, & diseases of the mind on the other. Under which the litany of mental illnesses falls. See under: In Your Head.

As health insurance companies assault the language, behavioral health is mental health by another dubious name. Since I live with a chronic illness for biochemical reasons, you might think that’d make a critical difference, but the rhetorical you that’s me would be wrong, regardless of what science has demonstrated about the hereditary basis of bipolar disorder.

Granted, behavioral health is so-called because serious mental illness affects a person’s life across its cascading levels, including the behaviors people rely on to get through the day. We call it functioning, a word more commonly associated with machines than organics. It still feels linguistically suspect.

Mental illness, maybe especially because of that specific adjective, goes over there. So far over there BCBS doesn’t even hassle with it. Not in the eyes of my HMO, at least.

23—

Re: names for things. Bipolar disorder—the current but least evocative moniker. As an adjective, bipolar denotes two poles of opposing extremes. Having two such extremes & the whole spectrum between. More one extreme than the other if actively cycling, usually, & even multiple at once. The modifier reveals nothing of either pole’s quality regarding mood. Manic-depressive illness, the older term, does this with one more syllable than the former.

Laughter before tears—as manic-depressive illness orders things. Which reminds me of Anne Carson’s grammatical point about the bittersweet we have Sappho to thank for when we experience desire. Glukupikron, preserved on a piece of papyrus like most of what we have left of her writings, tells a story of sweetness before anything bitter. Our English word reverses the chronology as Sappho sang it. This is why I prefer tristimania.

24—

But there are prose writers whose language hits me at the level of poetry & who, now I think on it, guide me from the wings as I lay sentences like train tracks across the abyss. Carole Maso’s fiction & essays. Kazim Ali’s Bright Felon. Michelle Cliff’s Claiming an Identity They Taught Me to Despise. Toi Derricotte’s Black Notebooks. Fanny Howe’s Wedding Dress & Winter Sun.

Like the memories that wander over the ground or in the air, shreds of morning mist the sun hasn’t gotten around to vaporizing. & yes, ground, because I’ve yet to hear of an underworld or down below—as Carrington put it &, my God, that book—that didn’t have a floor. Where the laws of psychological gravity finally bring things to rest. Where the past, maybe very messy history, stretches far as the inner eye can make out.

Maybe it looks like a junkyard where any hope slowly succumbs to rust. Or a monastery in a slow state of Renaissance ruin since Henry VIII declared himself head of Christianity in England & ransacked them, smashing altarpieces & rood screens, because the divine right of kings ranks up there among delusions.

—But what is a poet like me doing in a prosaic place like this? In the prefatory material to Carolyn Forché’s long poem “On Earth”: this diary a form of weather.

What I’ve been writing about. Trying to for the past two years. Record it. Measure, describe. To forecast on the basis of psychiatric history. Inner weathers & outer, although inscape’s never outside the view. (Thank you forever, Gerard Manley Hopkins. Pray for me, as I pray for you.)

I do write about the weather because it’s the weather, still. But ever since I can remember, I’ve had at least one eye periodically on the earth in orbit around the sun inside my skin. Paracelsus speaks to this somewhere, how all the cosmos can be found inside the body.

A counterpoint to the night sky fixing me when I stand in sight of the Davis Mountains.

25—

How sky hashes out what wind & water & light argue among themselves does help me understand my affective equivalents. Gotta love an objective correlative. The meteorology of it all gives me a visual vocabulary to describe my emotional weather in words.

Not just personification or the fallacies pathos makes possible. I’m talking about a habit of mind for association (substitution, to the delight of psychoanalysts everywhere) as well as similitude.

A way of thinking that tends to proceed by metaphorical means. Metaphorá—to carry over, across. What isn’t alike thrown together. With a kind of violence sometimes, but always with the threat of some.

Because difference exists. So do the edges of things as they move closer & closer to the invisible seam between, where the ceiling-fanned atoms of air in this room begin against the verge of skin.

Vanishing points might true the situation when the sensible surround is trustworthy. As with likeness, a big if.

26—

A feeling is a fact because it exists. It exists. I wrote that twice because it means far more than what its surface says. Seeing as it takes, as given, the existence of inner worlds & solar systems where the facts that feelings are exist.

They exist insofar as they make themselves perceptible to your senses, but how emotions scribble themselves across our bodies is the phenomenal proof. As facts, feelings in the first place exist on all those little earths orbiting our insides where no one else’s pesky or well-intentioned senses or good ideas can reach.

Very much a good news & bad news situation. The good news is that all of us who’ve wondered if we were the only ones who didn’t receive the default setting for how to inhabit your body—to name but one example of what brings the loneliness on—we can rest easy knowing other people’s instruction manuals likewise leave out other crucial details.

As far as news goes, less good is the altogether different fact—this time a nettlesome one—these feelings & their respective facts primarily exist on everyone else’s personal earth within that metaphysical contraption sometimes called the human heart.

Interior can be inexplicable to anyone outside your own sensorium even with the help of words. Sometimes even to you. Contact—w/oneself, w/the world, w/another—crisis in every sense. Anne Carson observed that, too.

All those times that are places. Places that are times. All the ages you’ve been in slow revolutions. There in that inscaped world after we cease living them in the timeline binding us, & they vanish. Supposedly into the past. No more finished than gone.

27—

10:32am—one day before being on lithium for 2 weeks.

How do I feel?
A question dreaded & reviled by the mentally ill everywhere. It’s almost an article of faith. Nor a question we enjoy asking ourselves. Not more than anyone else, but more than most in this particular way.

How do you feel? That asks you to isolate an incalculable number of things in motion. Within that head of yours & without. Then, let your attention let the sum of them be taken up by what forces carry them. Both of these things by willpower—emotional bandwidth—that could be embattled. With a chronic mental illness, at some point it will be.

Then examine the already obsolete data seconds after your cognitive processes created the still to try to answer that question. How do you feel.

What does the snapshot suggest. Is there anywhere detectable a constellation. If any bits of brightly painted tiles scattered like iconoclasm’s refusal to acknowledge that resemblance exists. Scrying what if any runes, flung.

No portents for the future beyond a photograph of a former moment filed away in the archive where they continue to shine. A slice of time thin as a computer file, & as endless when scrolling through its span.

How do I feel, then? Quiet in here, brain-wise. Most of the pilot lights on. Actually, more than most. Far as I can tell, mostly, what shouldn’t be isn’t.

The house was quiet and the world was calm, wrote Wallace Stevens in one of the late poems that are agnostic prayers. Were my mind a house & the world my affective atmosphere, this morning, where the sky’s endless wide & when. Sympathetic magic, sometimes.

28—

Then there’s the agony of afternoon. Wouldn’t want to forget the slow & inexorable or sudden, steep decline. What’s the damage this time. Sad about a guy. (Isn’t that always the way.) Except the sad, as a feelingfact, exists on that little earth otherwise known as in my head.

A Sagittarian sun & Gemini rising means patience is a premium in occasionally very short supply. Throw my hereditary share of neurosis on top, & you have an astonishing capacity to worry. Anticipate each apocalyptic could be with the precision of a gene splicer. & a talent for catastrophizing entirely my own.

What trips the wires frayed in places? It unhelpfully could be anything—in theory—often reacting to sudden, unwelcome change. Response to. Homeostasis is a tender art.

I also want to write delicate. Wind picks up or shifts. Frost, something on its way or not quite yet. As when a pause in conversation turns into a pall. Email exchange gone crepuscular. But who are we kidding.

A text exchange, this. Some sexting—this is a judgment-free zone—also maybe slept with him already. Or not. Except, you have.

You know how it goes. Light, casual. Absolutely. Sounds great. Mutuality is underrated as far as the miraculous goes. Chemistry, less science than art.

Buckle up. You’ve got this.

Here’s the thing, though. As astrology delineates things, intensity & passion derive from Venus being in Scorpio in my chart. Or choose an archetypal system. Intensity attracts is the point. Sometimes seduces. But whether water line or a power line, mine’s got some issues.

Since forever, basically. That’s how long ago the original sin grew up believing in attached itself to you. Some point between conception & birth, the nanoparticles of that theological fact affix themselves to cell walls.

Not that original sin’s the issue. This is just the typical Monday spinout because said guy all the sudden isn’t saying anything. Not in character either, his. 7:04pm now. How do you feel.

Last heard from yesterday evening. Reply long in arrival. A complete & total dodge of my proposition. The dodge flummoxed because, also, unlike. Evening had come on by then. Possibility, dwindling faster than light red-shifted to the max.

You could hope for another text, one that might actually answer ye or nay. Wait for what so obviously wasn’t ever on its way. Give a pass for the dodge & text again anyway.

You reply anyway. Because aside from the masochistic streak, you also fear something fundamental about you scatters men like a fox in a henhouse.

Before that simile reaches its bloody conclusion full of feathers, though, the part that matters is the scatter. Dispersal. How the advent of a fox among chickens would incite pandaemonium. Just like with Pertelote & Chauntecleer in Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale.

Noteworthy, unsurprisingly, I let the emotionally unintelligent dodge go. Not easy for the Scorpio vibe. Mars in Libra helps. I also like him that much.

Should that be rewritten in the past tense? Desire’s distance stretching 24 hours since his last text. Unmistakable, unshakeable calm when you get the feeling you’re being ghosted. If you didn’t know any better. Why else would he not respond to a text as direct as, I would like to be your lover. Not partner. Not boyfriend. Lover.

How do you feel. Eating your heart out of every etcetera. Tonight I’m leaving it in the present tense. Too much of a romantic by far.

29—

In the Seroquel hour, 10:52pm, picked up The Lover again & came across this sentence. Duras at her absolute best.

Very early in my life it was too late.

I like the sentence because it gives words to a feeling I’ve had for as long as I can remember sequestered away in an obscure part of my body, one I’d never have thought of as too late until I read what she wrote. Even in English translation.

Too late. Too late as original sin. Mine, my already too late, could’ve & was collapsed under the category of original sin in an individual life. Where the real ruin was, though—a feeling, a feeling that’s a fact—I will always circle like a moth wending moonward. There was no way for a child to disentangle what continues to stymie many a queer adult.

I no longer believe that—as much or often as I once did. Still, year after year I find it burrowed deep in the skeletal frame of what’s awry in the mental-emotional body. Consciousness, its sensorium. The usual suspect known as Originally Fucked Up discovered somewhere new. Picked my teeth with it plenty. How do you feel.

30—

Co-Star’s takeaway today is, Everyone has their limits, which is a much less enthusiastic endorsement than yesterday’s. You are indestructible.

Do, sayeth the stars, new shoes, semi-formal. So not gonna happen. Parking lots, which I have on good authority is a place where hell can break through the mortal plane.

Co-Star ever helpfully lists what not to do, too. Don’t—melodrama, projecting, protagonism.

So, don’t indulge cognitive distortions. Nor should the metafiction of how you tell the story of your life where you star as—wait for it!—a misunderstood protagonist.

Sweet, & fuck off, stars. Thinking errors have their fun &, historically, have worked out poorly for me really well over the years. About as well as alcohol or drugs.

Loneliness, lostness, owls at roost in my ribs.

Starshine & shadows can gather around like a glamor.

Pilgrim &/or/as prodigal in an ongoing bewilderment story. A very old story I’ve been telling myself about myself. What else could the Bible avail due to what’s within. Old as Genesis & endless as John’s gospel. The Bible is my beginning. That’s one way to start the story.

31—

Slowly, only in my latest 30s & almost middle age, do I begin to understand how fundamentally this ur-text of You’re messed up so why wouldn’t loneliness make you want to die can’t be extricated from what disorders the present.

Not the vaguest inkling it was there. Which is how these things work—as Jorie Graham observes, something catches. Burr on a sock. Spark in dry grass. Virus hooking itself to a permeable membrane.

The psychoanalytic primal scene. What Frank Bidart calls a radical given. In his own life. Ellen West’s. Vaslav Nijinsky’s. Myrrah’s in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Benvenuto Cellini’s. Genghis Khan’s. Marking each hour of the night. How do you feel. Very early in my life it was too late.

Tragedy begins with a radical given—your uncle has murdered your father and married your mother. Before your birth a prophecy that you will kill your father and marry your mother leads your father to decree your murder. The radical given—irremediable, inescapable—lays bare the war that is our birthright.

So here, like Samuel as a child in the temple unaware he was hearing God’s voice, I am. Unsure I’ve actually ever. Not in any audible noise discernible as a voice sense. From where? Outside, a voicebox on legs as in Eden, maybe.

How do you feel? 11:30am, I can see its chameleon rhizomatic tendrils spread like an unobtrusive, but fucked up, fungus in the backgrounds of each panel in the manic-depresive altarpiece of late adolescence & early adulthood.

Trying to forgive myself, keep trying to forgive myself better said, for missing it so totally there in the background for the longest. How isotopes are everywhere. The palimpsestic story of originally wrong with the Pauline war between spirit & flesh driving me crazy. That antagonism, the price for life.

torn, alive.
between body & mind.
I called it soul.

32—

A rip in the raiment of a metaphysical given snags further the more you worry it.