a poem about bipolar disorder
Had those blue tonged deer kissed you, you would have known then of their reality.
Such a strong and truly magical poem about a sadly surreal disorder that you have found a touch of order in from time to time. Bravo all 'round.
Like all decent people, I was taught never to find humor in someone else's afflictions, so I make this comment after what I hope is a respectful delay and with some trepidation. But Sherman, I live in the "low desert", and there are far more tarantulas and lizards around my neighborhood than there are drain pipes or downspouts. So maybe consider if the latter was the more likely hallucination?
Sherman, it is nearly impossible is to write about emotionally charged issues without being overdramatic or self-conscious, but you do it effortlessly, with the imagery and interaction of the tarantula, lizard, and deer doing all the work, and the perfect ending like the click of an intricate music box closing. I've been reading your memoir as I write some autobiographical essays for my site and develop a memoir, and I am reminded of many the poems in that book--a poem like "How to Be an Atheist at a Spokane Indian Christian Funeral," where a seemingly simple and sad description of your mother's funeral kicks into overdrive when the Evangelical Indian preacher shows up, and his simplistic tone-deaf sermon sets off an angry response that elevates the poem and creates a dark irony, and, more important, reveals your mother's comic way of seeing through bullshit. This balance between "saying" something in a poem but also letting the poem's language and imagery do the work is hard to pull off. I've struggled with it for my whole career.
I had a hallucination several years ago that still baffles me - I was walking up to my mailbox to leave a treat for our mail carrier when an aid car drove up looking for an address. I slipped into sort of a trance because I was afraid for the neighbor who was the object of their search. I led them to the correct door, all the time hearing them saying, "We can take it from here". As I stepped to the door it opened and I could see my neighbor standing across the room and he was upright and fine.
The problem is - the door opens to a wall on which the dog leashes hang. The neighbor was, as it turned out, in his bed. I left the treat intended for the mailman on the seat of the aid car for the medics. My imaginary sighting of my neighbor was totally bizarre and has no meaning for me.
I am glad you can explore so coherently what must be a terrifying experience - what is reality? You probably have angels watching out for you. I know I do - and I've kept them pretty busy!
The gentle deer spirits came to speak to your heart when you needed them, their graceful gazes and soft tenderness. They were real. They live in your vision, now in your poem.
Powerful visuals! I can see that tarantula chasing the lizard!
You felt the fear was real, not the beauty. A trick of the sedatives? I’ve been tricked. Believe in the beauty. I could really feel this one
love the audio aspect. fun to read the poem and then hear the poem!
love your poems so much. Thank you!
Thank you. This one is distinct and clear on a topic so indistinct and so unclear to so many...
The depression is always awful but the manias are great...until they're not. All that frantic energy is empowering for a certain time but it switches into impulsiveness and recklessness.
The bipolar mind "verdant with beauty and with fear" is a lovely line indeed and the contrast of the lush forest of the bipolar mind with the aridity of the desert is a sharp one. The inner world though painful to live within is richer than the bleak external reality.... I also found it interesting that while in reflection afterwards the lizard and tarantula seemed real, the deer were probably an hallucination. Most everyone finds deer graceful and gentle, charning adornments of nature, while generally lizards are scaly and unpleasant and tarantulas are creepy and terrifying. (Yes, I know some will protest the bias of my aesthetic judgment, but on the whole...) Thus it seems apparent that reality is generally ugly and repellent and the inner world of dreams is one of gentleness and beauty. Does being bipolar require the stamina to bounce back and forth between the poles of beauty and terror, as well as illusion and reality, and find poetry in the abyss?
IF I can pull it off worthily, I'll do it! Hold not your breath. On the other hand, I'm a bad judge of my own efforts--too self-indulgent, really.
Yes! "Fostered" is le mot juste--and curiously enough, I have made that "quotation" error before. Now I'll have to write a poem featuring both verbs! Let them do battle.
Quite beautiful, Sherman. And strange how beauty and pain or fear can blend. "Nourished at once by beauty and by fear," writes Wordsworth somewhere in "The Prelude," thinking I suspect of Longinus on the sublime. (I do hope I got that quote correctly!)