It’s another sunny day, already 61 degrees out. I’m going to feed Aesop before I go to the store this time. That little market is open every day of the year. Sometimes frustration and futility get the better of me and then it’s tempting to drink my life away. But the wiser self usually rules my choices and my actions.
Quarter of ten. In the blue sky I saw a newsroom chopper flying westward and also a jet airliner leaving a vapor trail. There was a peppering of small white clouds to the east. I again thought of the poem by Mallarme about the azure sky and how the heavens drive him a little crazy. I could fish out my book of his poetry and try to make some sense of the French… It was Michelle at the store this morning. I said I was feeling kind of depressed and she thought the vaccine had something to do with it. My food credit is down to the last 15 bucks, but it’s no problem. Today will be good for ice cream later on if I can manage a second trip over there. The burden I bear almost constantly is guilt and even shame at times. Some people are very nice about my shortcomings but others think one size fits all. “Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs / Got to keep the loonies on the path.” Of course I prefer the ones who accept me as I am, not those who only see how I am deficient in something. I’ll never be perfect. Even if I were, some people would still take a dislike to me… Occasionally I see a bird or two flit across the yard in back. I observe a lot of airborne things, floating, gliding, and flying, like the seed pods hovering in the breeze, seeking a place to take hold and grow. Hope is a thing with wings.
Window to a window
Of clouds together boiling apart
To display the witching
Chalk white breast
Watching in the night
Alone for me alone
Sleeping to wake
The cruelest month.
I dreamed of a country,
Neither Europe nor Asia nor Africa,
Whose border on the physical map
Made the shape of a red butterfly,
And this formed the birthplace
For every human race.
So I half awoke,
Resolving to learn
The Analects of Confucius
In order to start over.
Feet of Brass
If Neil Peart came back from the grave
With feet of brass,
A gold band around his chest,
And floating white hair and beard
To open the seven seals
And judge the living and the dead,
I wouldn’t be the least surprised.
Quarter of eight.
Not in a hurry to leave the house this morning. I finished the pistachio ice cream during the wee hours and gave a bite to Aesop. Then we retired to bed for another four hours. Right now I don’t have anything metaphysical to write about, being skeptical of that sort of thing. I remember how Robert Frost mistrusted science and technological progress, though I think he was quite silly to dig in his heels and try to deny the reality of life around him. Perhaps some of us still feel the way he did, embracing poetry and disregarding science facts. I once wrote a line when I was young:
Although it has been done, no one can land on the moon.
I guess I’m a bit ambivalent or undecided on the matter… I ought to call my sister this morning. But as before, no big hurry. The color of the sky combines amber with lead. Today is the Ides of March, of which Shakespeare told us to beware in Julius Caesar. Probably it’s just another day for you and me. To what extent do we want to trust imagination for guidance in everyday life? Evidence is more accurate than intuition— but less entertaining and sugarcoated. Do we have to stop believing in Santa Claus?
One thirty. I took advantage of the powerful sunshine to make another run for soft drinks. Bought a Snapple and a SoBe strawberry daiquiri. But even with the ideal weather, I saw almost nobody outside. Only one other pedestrian passed me on Maxwell Road. Hank cashiered at the store, shooting the bull with his buddies who frequently visit him on the job. I was hoping to see Deb this afternoon, but no luck. I hovered in front of the cooler for sodas and light beverages a few minutes, trying to make up my mind. One drink seemed as good as another; it didn’t really matter. Then I realized that I could just as well have stayed home. I came to the market merely to prove that I could. I wondered what I was doing there. Certainly not to see Hank. I guess I’d bargained for a better adventure than the one I got. As it happened, there was nothing to see except the glorious sun in the blue sky.
Back on my own street, I paused to look up at the azure: the same heaven that Mallarme gazed on a century and a half ago, when the Absolute was still taken seriously by mainstream thinkers who employed poetic language to expose it and adore it. So maybe this was the reason I went outside.
Quarter of ten.
I felt pretty good on my trip to the store, though with a few dark thoughts about my future. No one likes to admit defeat by the whips and scorns of time, this item called aging, walking on three legs in the evening. As usual I met with very few people on the street. Just the old man in blue denim and two children at Darlene’s old house, with their chocolate dog. I bought a can of chili and a sandwich, two Snapples, and treats for Aesop. In my mail I found an advertisement for a cannabis retailer on River Road. I was a little curious, but not really enticed. It would only turn into a very expensive addiction that would screw up my whole life again. I’m not interested in artificial ways to get high anymore. The challenge of living sober is its own kind of high.
The sun came out in a gray sky, an odd contrast. Every day is something new. Memories are all behind me, the future unforeseeable, but coming nonetheless. New formations of clouds in heaven… Time, stars, wings of angels. Sea green sun luster, like emerald on the neighbor’s fence. Pensive, I must be dreaming someplace far away…
Quarter of eleven. Am I too old to rock and roll? But never too old to versify. Those bass guitars get heavier and heavier to hold up. Inevitably my dexterity will slow down. It’s important to be realistic. But the mind retains its versatility as long as you feed it on good things… Everything advances in the medium of time. Nothing travels backwards, and memory is distorted. And yet this twisting of ideas is the means to creativity. What goes in comes out of the process something original, properly yours and beautiful.
The interior cosmic and vast, the hope
To resurrect Mallarme’s voice, the scope:
Ellipses... numbers, stars I scrawl;
Toward the universe we crawl.
The instruments of darkness know
This universe in verse is so;
But instruments of darkness? No:
The uncanny takes no part of Fall.
To drink in hate and spit out love:
Alembic guided by the Dove;
The reason flies, impelled to shove,
Imploding time beyond recall.
Here in the south of the Valley, we were charmed; no snow or freezing rain, and today the temperature is 48 degrees. The forecast says rain for the next week. Like every day, I walked to the market for my daily groceries. I saw nothing extraordinary. My thoughts are still occupied with realism versus Romanticism, and the possibility of transcendence by means of poetry and music. Can art unite us with the sublime like the nightingale’s song, or is it just an illusion? It was long ago when I read “Endymion” by John Keats. Vaguely I remember how he dreams that he makes love to Diana, the goddess of the moon. The poem takes you from the mundane to the beyond and back again. He awoke and found it truth… But why is the imagination important to human life? I regret that my medication puts the brakes on my capacity to dream and create poetry… I haven’t gone to Grocery Outlet in a very long time. Being there again is like bursting a time capsule, and I feel tempted to buy a half rack of beer or a gallon of wine. Life without alcohol is gray and prosaic, and yet the stuff is so toxic and lethal if you overdo it. That store is rather slippery for me, though I can get away with a trip to Bi Mart…
Ten thirty five. Maybe I confuse imagination with intoxication? And maybe it’s a fine line between them. Mallarme wrote that drunkenness is a foretaste of the real bliss of heaven. I suppose that’s what makes alcohol hard to resist in earthly existence. But heaven has to wait, however insipid each day is. What else affords us a glimpse of heaven in the meantime?
One forty. Campbell or Carnap: which way do I go in my reading? Either way, I couldn’t stay in that mode forever. I had a friend who was so literal that she couldn’t understand figurative language, especially metaphor. I indulged her for six years and finally I rebelled against her anti poetry and embraced transcendence. Liberating myself this way, I could contemplate sobriety and imponderable things like God. Now I don’t know how much sobriety hinges on the supernatural, but I think it helped me get started. Probably in May 2018 I was very optimistic for the poet’s union with the sublime, deeming that Mallarme was the best path to revelation. Was I merely deluded? I don’t feel the same today that I did three years ago. The medication eliminates metaphysics as easily as cognitive therapy or logical analysis. More so: you only have to swallow a pill to make faerie go away. It’s similar to the red pill in The Matrix. This raises the question, Do we choose the reality we want to live in? Red pill or the blue?
However, this gives people the wrong idea about schizophrenia…