Thursday, December 29, 2011

All Things Being Equal, new revisions

It's been months since I touched this one. I'm not giving up on it yet. I won't show the changes as I have lately with the Ghosts poem, as it is too labor intensive and I am somewhat tired and depressed. Feel free to comment.

Let x = x 1
Locked in observation
with laceless shoes and
flesh turning color in
a mangled ring. As in

the circus. You lay across
the hall, or lie across the lake
of fire bridged by roads cut
straight into the mountain.
You, me, the elephant in the ring.

The baby in the car, my bottle
in the sink. The girl left an impression,
barbed wire handstanding on my back, the ass-end
of a circus pony with wobble knees, sinking,
sinking, and the finalé spills
clowns from the car like cockroaches, midgets and stilt-
legged giants, or hoop-waisted buffoons begging
the rain with wing-spread finches,
skeletons, held close
on their heads.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reckoning the Impossible, Part III

I continue to write, despite the absence of clear encouragement. This is strange, as I am far too depressed to play my guitar or read (which require far too much effort and concentration). Even this, this semi-personal expository prose, is accomplished with more time and labor than it should require. I had reached out to a few people, asking for assessment and critique, but I have not heard back, after a month or two. My interpretation is that my writing is mediocre at most, which is fine. I am a poor judge of my own work, so I wouldn't necessarily know. And the world has plenty of mediocre poets. My (perceived) mediocrity won't drive me to suicide, as it did poor Hart Crane (not that I'm comparing myself). My suicidal impulses come from other places.

So, why write? Poetry has no objective value, in my opinion. Presumably, I'm not talented enough to make a career of it--not without an effort the size of which I haven't the energy to make. I lack my youthful outsize ego and desire for fame that might veil my eyes to the disappointing reality. It's not clear to me, but I seem to be writing for the only legitimate reason to write poetry: I have certain perceptions, memories, emotions, thoughts, energies inside me that I feel compelled to understand better, that resist embodiment, topography, translation into the structure of language. This internal compulsion, I believe, is what drives poetry, regardless of whatever other filters it passes on the way out of the poet.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Robert Lowell and What To Do with My Hypomanic-Depression (Bipolar II)?

I have thus proved that it is absolutely possible to write bad poetry quickly. I really don't know what else I'm doing here. I suppose I should be working on my longer works, doing some research into coroner's reports for Murder-Suicide in Loveland, into the mathematical equations I use in All Things Being Equal (so I can possibly make that jumbled mess cohere and maybe find some inspiration to craft metaphors that don't suck). But I feel drained, depressed, and, honestly, not at all impressed with what I've written so far. Thinking of going back to my novel. But I'd run into the same problems there.

This is the problematic cycle that, in my better moments, I work to overcome: the grand idea exploded into millions of axons and neurons and glial cells, trunk and limbs and fingers, arteries and veins and capillaries, feverishly begun, feverishly overworked, until half constructed and half polished, then abandoned for greener, spore-infested, algae-ridden ponds. The confusion that follows, the dull and heavy head that fails to understand the hypomanic trajectory. The resignation to the overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. The stasis and stagnation.

Lowell after lithium
Robert Lowell supposedly found his depression useful for editing, crawling through each line, each word, from a dirt-level realism that can be the gift of depression. He balanced his manic explosions (during which he wrote, if he was not off on some drunken binge in South America or wherever) with diligent and exacting work, pushing through the lower moods to finish the grand mess he had started. That's self-discipline.