Overnight, something happens between the two hemispheres of my brain: a tiff, a quarrel, an all-out brawl. The universe unravels in my hands; its spiral appears in a sparkly rubber ball, dances on my acrid tongue, leaves me gasping for air in a paper bag as I try to recreate some semblance of a new (enlightened?) self.
memorriees. are like fish.
and i thought i wasnt “good” at math.
ad infinitum et cetera times infinity.
timing is everything
this is all backwards so you know.
On April 26, I wake manic and panicked. I say wake, but I’ve only been sleeping an hour. Imitrex navigates my veins from another shot I’ve offered my shoulder, bruises on top of bruises on top of….I dream that the two sides of my face are covered in ice, searing in pain. I turn from side to side, slamming the halves, each cheek, against the tile floor. Screaming, I cannot break off the ice.
Every thought, idea, poetic phrase, and abstract notion lands in a notebook as soon as it comes. A sudden explosion of the senses, an extreme brightening of all colors, especially green. I need its magic inside of me. Spring is a phantom, my migraine propels me forward. The sky expands like a smile. Words emerge broken and misspelled, noises colliding with smells. My voice makes sounds, shapes of words, unhinged symbols, but what do they mean? Where do they exist? To whom am I speaking?
into the floor again
infinitude of choice.
11 steps ahead.
decide onwhat im going tosay!
it’s the end of the world as we know it
are all poets this passive (
Hours in bed, I stare at shadows and treetops, my gallbladder meridian alight. Nobody knows what I mean, who I am. I see my pain, the root of it all: a hardened mass wedged between tendon and bone, an ancient crystal they cannot exhume. Later that night, I’m wheeled into the ER where I announce, “This is a Sylvia Plath moment,” wearing sunglasses, shorts under sweatpants, and colorful socks. I demand “No opiates,” and ask, “Will you turn down the Intensity dial on the wall over there, please?” Afraid to sleep, but Ativan streams in: cold slimy saliva. Then a brick wall appears, with nothing beyond it: no life, no death, no tomorrow, no sunshine, no-thing at all. Unwittingly I sleep, without dreams.
Morning arrives, shaky and clean, but for five days at home I hardly eat, breathe, or sleep. My tongue runs free as my thoughts speed. I roll bouncy balls back and forth, remove my clothes, stare at the radiator’s slits, sketch contorted self-portraits, type and type until my fingers hurt but words squirm like worms on a too-bright screen and I cannot read. I watch a bee try to pound its eyes through the window, coming after me.
I am allergic to grass, Band-Aids and Listerine. In other words, allergic to my self. Everything is threes. Triangles, infinity, aloe vera remedy, treading water in the tub. You’re either odd or even, left side or right, black ink or blue. A battle rages: I must expel bad energy down the right of me, absorb good energy up the left. I do jumping jacks, scream at the neighbors, hack up mold, plunge my hands into freezing cold water, fling negative ions from the TV through the window. I can accelerate time, I can levitate branches, I can read your mind. Oh, and I’m lefty now.
i have a felling wi have a whole body crack and then it will be over for nwo and balanced, theni work to keep it balanced with acupunctursit. and i learn to write ambidexturously. so learn to
work with tension, stop typgin ok
wednesday 042606 was a bad ddsay for someone, everyone i care about.
i have a balanced imabalance i need to center and reach and then i will ne able to read and write with both side of my brian but 1/4 more with left side. thank god i figured this out –
Hello withdrawal, and withdrawal from withdrawal (from with…). A rush of serotonin, endorphins or quirky brain-chemicals and now I count the twitches of the world’s internal clock (do you?). I stop wearing a watch because time isn’t real but every clock ticks in my direction. Odd hours are evil. Long nights on the couch, where my dead dog slept, feeling the blood in my body as it travels head to toe and toe to heart. My tattoos drain; not enough marrow, oxygen, hydration, medication! No more of that, no.
Finally, I head out, leaving my childhood house to rust. In the dusk, I’m maniacally switching the dashboard lights on-and-off (this car can disappear), open-and-shutting the windows, thinking, ‘I might die on the way.’ Ghosts egg me on. But I reach the apartment where several friends live; run from the car before it explodes! I wear one green shoe and pajama pants, my lips chewed to mush. Is my skin falling off?
Upstairs, Michelle hides my book-of-scrawls under her mattress and it disappears too. I tell them my brain hurts, “ow!,” hop onto the countertop, leap across furniture, stare at kitchen tiles through a slanted glass, fling myself onto Jack and synchronize our hearts. They ask, “Are you on acid?” But I am the tooth fairy, don’t you know?
if you crucify / objectify / internalize your self
then no one else can ever win
(perhaps if you’re me and you think you’re a cat
and you can’t take drugs except pot and love).
On Jack’s skinny mattress, my head is a balloon; the rest of me is weighted sand. I press my palms to the walls for support. Our ribs click into place, neuralgic exhales. He asks, “What hurts?” and touches, well, everything. Each time someone flushes the toilet, it reminds me to breathe. I pant and sigh, give my body to his for all time…time laughs at infinity. I have never loved anyone more. In the morning, I drop onto my knees, crawl across the carpet, lap up water, suck in dust. Someone else has written in my book. Or was that me?
Wait, what is happening? I blame doctors, my father, therapy, Ernie and Bert, Vicodin, triptans, anti-depressants, anything FDA approved. It was all lodged there for years, waiting to burst. Soon there’s a kidney stone, vertigo, anemic chills, clots of blood. I’m trapped inside the couch, cabinets, flytraps, the cluttered bathroom sink. I don’t dare ride the elevator down to earth. But I’m stalking the balcony, planning my first jump, imagining my body splayed like salt on asphalt.
Late nights I stand outside Jack’s door: clutching a blanket, shaking a million shivers like a hummingbird, afraid to say hello and goodbye. Frozen, I knock too soft to hear, praying he’ll take me in. I sleep in the closet, dig my nails into my arms, transmit poetry to the cat, and flush toxins down the toilet. Meanwhile, the world keeps whirling. College is ending. Spring is gloating and Michelle cuts my hair: ten long inches of matted dust.
Somehow I relearn to walk and swallow, fuck and pee. Opium disagrees with me. The sun calls my name, three times a day. I shower, turning circles, and the water stings. I sing, “Heroooin, it’s my wife and it’s my life, haha!” I do ballet on the windowsills. I am a golden spiral.
everything i do is performance art(he) to keep me from feeling the pain of re(in
)jection and no blood in my bones/,
and pain disappears in my ireegular ciruclar circuityry.
try being menanamean. me
and then compain to me me.
feelings are )n)o fun. this is frustrationcough cough.
(re)clamation is a bitch
Nearly five years later, I am in still in its wake…
…it is this losing and finding, this reassembling my self from a million and a half filaments, and then asserting a new self for all to see. I have to acknowledgement the fissure. Something happened, I always say, between the hemispheres of my brain. Something broke my life at its seams. For a little while there, I wasn’t in it anymore.
April redirected me, plotted my coordinates on a different graph. I fought against my body, relived childhood fears. With every breath I choked out, recycling air into that paper bag, I inched toward some greater knowing, some holy balance. That’s all I needed really: balance. I needed to feel the pain. I needed to stay clean, right?, and a bathtub wasn’t the answer. The doctors couldn’t help; they’d done enough of the damage. I turned to e.e. cummings and peppermint tea, but there was no easy remedy. I simply had to wait it out. I had to remember who I had once been, then deconstruct and reconstruct this person I am.
So, what did I learn? Well…I still don’t wear a watch. Time cannot bind me.
Amy Dupcak studied Poetry and Fiction as an undergrad at Sarah Lawrence, and then earned an MFA in Fiction from The New School. Her short stories have appeared in Slush Pile, Broken Pencil, Cavalier Literary Couture, Thumbnail and Fringe, and nonfiction in Sonora Review. She is the Features Editor and a contributing writer for BRM, a music and culture magazine, and teaches Creative Writing as an academic course to high school seniors. You can visit her website at www.no-alternative.net.