Well Bottom Blues

Oh my God it's full of stars!

I was cured, alright.

Last Friday night I drank one cocktail (a bit strong) and one dropper of my THC tincture. When I went to bed I was looking for something to read and opened John Berryman’s The Dream Songs, and it clicked for the first time in years. I wrote a half dozen lines, finished them the next day and read them at the Maple Leaf on Sunday to a polite reception. Got home and wrote another poem, my 2nd in seven years.

“I was cured, alright.”
— Alex DeLarge, A Clockwork Orange.

The above was a Facebook post from last Sunday. It seems I am somehow crawling out from under the shadow of Risperidone. I sorely needed some sort of intervention eight years ago, but what was chosen completely silenced the power of creative associative thought and language necessary to write.

I had to go look at the last prescription bottle to remember it’s been almost a year since I discontinued this drug, and not long after started this blog to chronicle what I hoped would be the road to recovering my full self. A glance at the timeline here shows I didn’t keep it up. There was no remarkable recovery. I continued as the productive, bill-paying drone I was for the last seven years..

Until last weekends sudden awakening.

Today I woke up from a restless night of stressful vivid dreams, and sat in my office chair staring at the pile of unopened mail and unfiled documents, piled atop the work laptop reminding me I must go back to my increasingly uncertain job. I sat paralyzed, feeling like someone had laid a large, lead blanket over me.

I recognized this state, and realized that perhaps I am cycling again. Rather that dispair and pick up the phone to make an appointment with the pill doctor, I resolved to find some way to manage this myself. Then I remember the germinal line of a poem which occurred to me as I fed the crow cousins their breakfast of raw peanuts. And I resolved to turn that line into a poem. And did.

I was cured alright.

If writing is the channel for a certain level of mania, and the cure for episodes of depression then I will not go back to psychopharmacology to resolve this. Instead I see a path to management that Risperidone robbed me of. I can manage this. I no longer live alone with my familiar deamon. I have my partner and sister to slap me upside the head if I beer too far off course.

Real recovery is not an absence of symptoms, but a return to my truer self .

Here’s the poem. Fine enough but not amazing enough to worry about wasting a chance at real publication elsewhere

.Whoops. I’ve revised the poem and submitted it somewhere. Sorry.

Here’s another ,the one I first wrote:

Maddox’s Ghost

For Thaddeus Conti

Seven years, enough for presumption

Of death, I’ve been I’ve been absent 

From the Maple Leaf poetry series.

Seven years. No word announced

Itself & demanded paper,

Propelled me to a microphone.

The good doctors of psychiatry

Pronounced me a bit too inspired,

Diagnosed the creative’s disease.

Associative thought strangled

By pharmacology (for my own good

They said, & at that time were right.)

My moon was too full

& all my nights went wrong

& ended with a go cup.

Take this, they said, and eat it.

It is your body of poetry

Which I gave up for who

We thought I should be,

with no suggestion

Of resurrection.

The deepest songs

Were lost to me. 

Poetry was a puzzle

I could no longer solve.

I once was drunk

On Dylan Thomas

& he was foreign as Welsh:

Berryman was an obtuse

Ladder I could not climb.

I devolved into work

& simple genre novels.

I revisited all of Pratchett.

& one night (the sixth

Instant, but who’s counting)

Searching for something

To read I opened Berryman

& somewhere the Frankenstein

Switch was thrown. Lightening

Flashed & then: I Am

Again, I realized. Current

Re-energized forgotten circuits.

I closed the book & wrote

A half dozen lines

I finished the next day.

I looked at what was written

& recognized myself

Reflected in a poem.

& so returned to the Leaf

& spoke my poem to

A half dozen familiars

When we were done

I asked for a dram

Of cheap well  Scotch

To toast the ghost

Of Everett Maddox.

“I don’t have a bar scotch;

JB is the cheapest,”

The bartender Reagan said.

I told her why I wanted

Bar Scotch, & she poured

A shot, no charge.

I went back to the patio

& toasted Everette

(whom I never met)

ghost to ghost

& poured most of it

Over his memorial stone.

My ghost dissolved

In that moment, &

I was back where

Once he spoke poems

& I was as happy

As Rutledge in the mud,

Buoyed by ultimates.

One response to “I was cured, alright.”

  1. […] but from the debilitating side effects of psychopharmacoloy. (Explained here and further here and here. In brief, a delayed diagnosis of Bi-Polar and the medications which I desperately needed at the […]


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About Me

Mark Folse is a provincial diarist and minor poet in and from New Orleans. His past blogging adventures included the Katina/Federal Flood blog wetbankguide on blogspot.com which David Simon told NY Magazine was one of three blogs that helped helped inspire Treme, and Toulouse Street, which once outranked the Doobie Brothers on Google Search. His poetry and other writing has appeared in the New Laurel Review, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, The Rumpus and elsewhere.



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