WHAT ONCE WAS, I ONCE WAS

He knew me before my confidence was

Crushed, bravado broken

Before my psychotic episode eroded

The self we both knew

He knew me when I was

Bold, brash, tough, and accomplished

We talked over a few days about good times

Performed a couple simple songs we used to play

He noticed me shaking, heard me fumble a few notes

Didn’t want to hear me narrate

The tragedy my episode was, is still

Doesn’t want to hear about me weak, my weaknesses

I don’t like it either

But as it’s me, I have to live with the narrative

Continue as best I can with

The awareness of what once was

What I once was

25 YEARS

25 years largely lost

Doctors call it avolition

No will even to get up

Sleeping

Days, weekends

Those 25 years could have been:

Practice time

Gigging

Progressing

But . . .

25 years largely lost

 

Mind turned to fog

Memory shot

Which is an end to learning

Thought processes so slow

Which is an end to performance

Where I could have been

But . . .

25 years largely lost

 

I see my friends

Where they’re at

Where I could have been

But . . .

25 years largely lost

 

But then . . .

There’s the soul

“My kingdom is not of this world”

Spirituality

Humility, compassion, neighbor-love

“I do not give to you as the world gives”

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be.”

I could have come to worse

25 years of spiritual progress

SEMI-FULFILLED POTENTIALS

Pretty much my whole adult life

I’ve been more or less semi-retired

A full-time undergraduate and grad

Student and the poverty and the freedom

Writing and performing music

Writing and researching papers and theses

Bipolar disorder’s attenuated capacities

Avolition and crippled will to persevere

Those week-ends asleep in bed—

The weekend through: Friday till Monday morning

Those lost weekends

A post-doctoral funk and bad jobs

Part-time teaching and poverty

Writing and publishing a book and journal articles

Music and poetry and bad jobs

A good job preaching, a calling, and full-time pay

Recording a CD of my originals and poetry and newspaper bylines

Volunteer positions and committees and seminar presentations

All for joy and no pay

Pretty much semi-retired and all of it

TIMECLOCK

I limped and struggled through it all

In an unforgiving, uncaring world

“Punch a time clock,” the world insisted

But I can’t even wake up, get out of bed

–I’ve slept my own weekends away—

What have I done to deserve this?

Punch a time clock

So I limped and struggled through it all

I had to

Some would say my work was half-assed

Not knowing, not caring about the extent of my effort to get out of bed

“I can’t see your bipolar disorder.”

Don’t care

Punch a time clock

SOMEBODY OUGHT TO PAY

Who do I get mad at?

Ordinarily, somebody would pay

What it did to me

What I went through:

Uncontrollable tears

Whole week-ends spent in bed sleeping

Trying to work through sedating meds

Fighting to live, pay the bills

Someone ought to pay

 

But . . .

But did it break my contract with the world?

Point me to other import

Than making it to the top

Making it

Other matters do matter

Did it teach me that?

Break my ego

(Which is always a good thing)

Humility

Something I never knew

Until it happened

Did it teach me?

 

I’m more sound today

And I look back

To how I was

What I went through

How well I feel, now

Someone ought to pay

Or is there another way to see it?

God only knows