My friend the poet Matthew Freeman has been generous enough to allow me to publish several more of his excellent poems. Matt writes a lot about his experiences living with paranoid schizophrenia– but if it’s not painfully obvious, his poems are a lot about all of us and the lives we live.
Boulevard Status Update
Holy shit! I just realized
that all of the signs I’m seeing
are actually metaphors. This is
a huge breakthrough! Now place
doesn’t mean anything and I’m free.
How could I have been so deluded?
Today when I saw a dead bird at the
bus stop I knew it meant I
was going to sing again.
And when Kelly was so curt at coffee
I knew it wasn’t that I wasn’t
Irish enough or she had googled me
and seen my history of psychosis nor
was it because the homeless kid tried
to put on a block. It was because
my slightest gesture had her tremble
and shake and become unable to speak
and my slightest verb left her in some
liminal place where ecstasy loomed.
So now I’m going along grandly on God’s trip.
When I went in to the record store
someone murmured, “Your mom doesn’t live here.”
I’m forfeiting everything that weighs me down.
I’m no longer imprisoned by the pattern of ceremony.
And yes, I accidentally let some type of voice in.
I’m thankful now that it’s mild and I’m glad
they trusted me with a beautiful analyst and
I’m grateful for all the REAL things that have happened
whether from the depths or outside. He’s arrived.
Sad Experience Sonnet
I’ve heard some voices in my day. I got
so paranoid I thought the CIA
was after me. On an Alaskan boat
I threw my medicine into the sea.
I ran my Mustang through a flowershop
and fell drunkenly out the second storey
window at a party and would not stop
raving until some friends had to restrain me
and I have been expelled from schools and bars
and thrown into the hospital where it
looked like I would never get out. My scars
proclaim that I have seen some scary shit.
So I don’t have a lot of loot. Know what?
To be this cute you must be destitute.
Reality Proximity Sonnet
I tripped on “You have got to find your voice”
for twelve long years. I asked whom I could ask
but everybody looked at me askance.
I got online but everything was masked.
Time fled and medicine began to work
and I got dulled down to a passing bum;
belief would dissipate, I’d lose the spark
that made things real and metaphor would come
to claim that everything I thought’s insane.
Reality replaced reality.
What once was beautiful was now profane.
Who once was god was now a casualty.
(The wind beats at my window and my door—
I’m closer than I’ve ever been before)
An Exciting Case of Schizophrenia
After I got back from New York expelled
and humiliated and emasculated
and still under the Beatnik Influx so
introverted I could not see
what was right in front of me as in
I sat at a bar with a loud bright Amex
and this wonderful young lady
kept hinting she’d like a drink so I
went over and threw up on
the jukebox and I was looking
for the cuckoo but landed
on the lamplight and when Chief and I
left I had these discordant elements
of consciousness following me as we
ended up at the emergency room and Chief
disappeared and the judge who was
my buddy’s dad had said you’ve got to
find your voice and I told the intake lady
I needed to see a female analyst
in the presence of a male security guard
and these young doctors come in
and I said I’ve learned about the
discourses because I had been sitting
in structuralism class when
I was bombarded by the teacher with
this crazy wild innuendo so I got
up to freak out and leave as Emma and Jane
grabbed my shoulders and the
teacher said you’re driving this class
and when I opened my eyes the
young doctors were smiling at me
and language had me screwed like
I could tell gender and sexuation but
the truth is just that some stoners will
talk about someone else but stab
you in the heart because they’re really
talking about you Lord why did it take
so long and why did I have to have
literal auditory hallucinations at the
same time finally figuring out that
“Finding your voice” is just a metaphor
and poets don’t necessarily all take dictation
from voices and I went so far down back at the
dusty home with Dad and Mom dead and
when someone said something mean
about me not having a job usually
someone sinister practicing witchcraft
I would let them go let them go let them go
and learn to like myself and what the hell
because then I exploded on difference
and a wild flood held up
a mutiny against total desiccation
and then twenty years go by and my doctor’s
like you have such an interesting example
of schizophrenia because you have insight
and you can even remember how it was
before you were sick
and I’m like I’ve sat in so many rooms
where someone said “cuckoo” and I found
it could go either way and what the hell
all of my early miseries built me up and I have
to touch the stop sign to know it’s real
and I get this deep numb sorrow and
I’m sad and when I go out will women
come from all over and scream at me
and it’s fun to go back and forth and after
fifteen years I can date and be cool
and I was walking on campus like through
wretched fire and I had no expression
on my face and I heard one kid say to
another kid look how cool that guy is
and I’m so happy I’ve got no warrants out
and everyone’s passing and we’re so happy
here at Parkview Place where my
friends all give me these microwave meals
and one dude gave me these new clothes
and I walk to coffee with my
friends and I let go and I hardly know anything
and I don’t throw anything out the window
or care who’s watching and who’s listening
and I learned that Lesbia was wrong
when she said
you can’t be crazy if you know you are
and as for that bird song by Jakob Dylan
well maybe he heard of me up in New York
maybe the nurses want to sleep with me
maybe I’m file at the FBI
who really cares anyhow because now
I know Starla and I sit with her
very carefully and I try to listen to
exactly what she’s saying and watch
what she does with her eyes and somehow
I still think she knows more than I do.
Like it’s Always Sunday
I’ve told you everything
I know about
the secrets and revisions
of psychosis. It remains to be
seen how I will be persecuted.
But I believe that the
Pharisees on Forsyth,
jealous that I’m literally descended
from a bird, will call
every publisher in Manhattan
and tell them I tried
to kill my brother and steal
The last time I was in Bellevue
I had Chief go to the house
where my sister lived
with twelve young ladies
and put my big crate of notebooks
in the attic and disguise them.
I had to think about growing up.
I had to consider doing some work,
not just showing up at the psych ward
rubbing my belly.
Today I noticed a grammatical error
during the sermon at the church
up the street. I sat there wondering
what I might look like off my meds.
I sat there rubbing the scarred wrist
of a homeless girl I had met.