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The Author Is Dead

Juliano Zaffino - The Author Is Dead - Blog

Bipolar, A Triptych

Juliano Zaffino

 'How / this is my life. Say how is / This "I" me?'

'How / this is my life. Say how is / This "I" me?'

This is a long-poem that was written over the course of a turbulent few months. It is called 'Bipolar, A Triptych' after its nature, and does not to my knowledge represent a fixed moment, memory, or mind. Anyone affected by Bipolar Disorder, formerly known as Manic Depression, can reach out at Bipolar UK.

Bipolar,
A Triptych


1. No I’m Fine Thanks Just Really Tired Today I Didn’t Sleep Well Is All

until I go back to the beginning –

I am out of my mind again, dear friends.
This is me telling you that I’ve gone mad
In old-school biblical ways, in the long-known style
Of all your favourite artists, your Van Goghs,
Your Hemingways; “oh my god you are SUCH
A Virginia Woolf”, they say, handing me
Stones fit for my pocket, fit for the river,
Calling their moody cousins bipolar – a slur –
When they mean unpredictable. And justly
They never see me coming, a dark horse.

***

I wear depression like a brooch
To pin my outfit together, a centrepiece.
Sometimes I forget I’m even wearing it.
I know exactly what it looks like,
What it weighs in my hand, and still I reel
When I look down bleary-eyed through
Tears and see its jagged form in my fist.

I don’t know when or where it started,
This certain fog, and I can’t describe it
Sanely, without a toothy smile poking through
Because I can only laugh at myself,
Changing all the pronouns back to the first person,
Laughing at the image of a dog chasing its tail to death;
Because this thing of mine is just illogical,
Like when you smell a smoky death-plume
But can’t find the fire. It’s the smoke
That kills you, it’s the slow asphyxiate.
It leaves no loving handprint
On your cold and tainted skin.

I talk slower, every word its own cliffhanger,
Every breath an everloathing labour of revulsion.
Maybe you’ll see me crying at my desk at work
Or falling asleep in front of the TV at 8pm.
These are not my normal behaviours.
I read the same page of the same book some
Dozen times and it means nothing. I watch
Cartoons that I can quote by heart because
What matters most is the colour and the clamour.
I cancel all my plans and burn all my bridges.
I cut the surface of my skin to see what’s within.
These are not my normal behaviours.

I am a soldier come home from war
In my living room, surrounded by an inner house
That I have built out of useless things
Some person used to love. These books
And belongings are but bricks to build my tomb.

– I am trying, by the way –

All these things are void of value. The words
I want to say are lost somewhere between
Sense and transmission. Everything goes.

The slowness is a sign that the brain
Is shutting down and the body
Is slowly getting the signal and, slow,
Is trying to let you go, peacefully
And on your own terms – still
I am trying to get the message.
The relay system connecting sight
With sense is slower, too.

***

Every stretched out thought occupies endless space.

***

I am not what I was
And I struggle to listen, to hang on
To his every word the way I used to.
And that’s when he says to me
“I feel like a ship has docked
On my side” – and I think yeah
That’s it really, the pressure,
The imposition, the drain,
That’s all it is, some new-docked vessel
Bleeding me dry. Just sleep it off.
Refuel this depleted reserve.
Wait for departure, open waters.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

2. The Floor Is The Lowest Point Of Your Ground-Floor Apartment

The low is almost always the fall
But I choose to constitute my own preferred personal history
In the place of facts and psychiatric pathology.
Think of the narrative as a triumph –
From this low one day I’ll fly
And in such little lies burrow deep, and survive.

***

Yes I have an apocalyptic obsession
And thank you for pointing this out to me
In terms I can understand but I need you to know
That the world is ending, right before our eyes.
There is nothing internal about the loss of logic.
When I scream for you from the other room
And tell strangers online that I am doomed
There is no need to be contrary. Doom is not
A mood it is a science. Life has been over
Forever but I am only now waking up to it.
We would all be happier if we woke up to it.
Let us all get lost in my black lake together.

***

When I think of your face at night
It gives me car-crash dreams
That I relive at 6pm on winter drives
Down the silent motorway, knowing
It would be a subtle way to go,
Thinking these thoughts beneath
The thrum-and-thrashing shout
Of the voice that tells me candidly
“So long as you die young, your lack
Of any real purpose is out of your hands,
And you will be known for your potential
Rather than an abstract geriatric loss”.
Some time later, on a snowy walk
In what should be spring, I am unconsciously
Refining the thought: “it is better to die young
With wasted potential than to die old,
Having done nothing with a long and lucky life.”
This is a sentiment that I see in frozen river
And in headlight shine from every passing car.

***

This thing in me that is and isn’t me
Has crept so insidiously
Into every part and party in my life
That there is nowhere to run when it rears its ugly head
Demanding recompense, demanding sufferance.
I am a masochist held at my own lacking mercy.

***

Oh Lord let me lie here low,
Let me wallow, wild, in these waves,
I will ask nothing more,
Let me suffer in the shallows
Of my soul, in the hollow,
Let me lie here on the wood floor
Of the hallway, cold at night,
Creeping draft seeping through gaps
In the front door, outside world
Is full infectious – fever festers.
Fading out. Crying aloud. Dying now.

***

There is memoir clarity in the language one night,
Awake to the sound of disunisoned breath.
I am awake for the longest time.

And then I go.

***

It’s simple, human toilet me,
Yeah that’s right, just shit on me,
Diaper me imminently baby,
I’m garbage, me, unsanitary,
Unsatisfactorily nothing, see?
Fuck me up, make me unclean –
I’m begging you to take a seat
And render me some worthless piece
Until they deem me obsolete.
Take my excess flesh and eat it
I don’t want it.
Just go ahead and startle me,
Human rats in the underground
Licking heads, licking dirt, scurry, hurt,
Rat in the world, breathing downstream.

Toilet more than human now
Porcelain receptacle for hatred
Fill me fill me fill me
Sewage and fail to drain me
Fill me fill me
You couldn’t make me feel more shit
Only I can make me feel like shit
Only I
And the toilet
And the garbage
In the bowl it all turns to shit
And with a flush my mind goes –

shit
shit
shit

***

Catatonic. The body speaks for itself.

Grey blanket heavy death shroud weighed down.
First slapped face, first punched neck,
Black eye, rent hair on the sofa, black dye,
Grey blanket keeps light out of eyes.
Arms fly, kamikaze pilots, up and down dead.
Shortfin mako shark swam into a wall
And oxygen starved sank, long to-do list.
There are eights knives and two pairs of scissors
In the kitchen. Painkillers and prosecco
And untouched whiskey. Fire for the final party. Over there.

Over here. And still. And still here.
This is not death this is only dreaming
Of being awake. Soon just a gesture falling flat.
Soon there is nothing more than that silence.
Illness is not just the ghost story you tell.
This is a sick ghost. The body is its own sick host.
Its brain has died when it was needed most.

These are pretty ways of saying all the things
That I could not. When. Then.
Every word guttural uttered thought.
Can’t.
No.
Stuck.
I – want – to – die.
No.
Stuck. Stuck. Stuck.
(That living lump of flesh is silent.)

***

It is my absolute pleasure to welcome you to my ultimate low.
Come in, make yourself at home and wipe your feet
On my knotted face. I want to show you how the world ends.
I want to show you how I think my life is bound to end.

***

This living lump of flesh is living.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

3. Riser / Go

Eventually and with no logic
A voice in your ear is there
To drag you clear from the trap:
“You’re not lost, just looking.”

Eventually and with no logic
A voice in my ear sends me
Into another trap, clear as day:
“Get lost. Keep going. Keep looking.”

***

I am aware the illusion in passing.
This is not triumph this is rising action
Crescendo, merely a path to a climax
And then the fall, for the rest of time.
I am setting myself up for a messy death,
A lack of rewarding resolution.

***

Addict on a binge buying paper
Void-fill, buying books, buying weight
Just to make the days go by,
Eating extra meals to mark time,
Fucking bodies just because.
If I spend everything I have maybe then
I can consume the world in one sitting.
Maybe then I won’t house oblivion in me.

***

You tell me you can’t keep up
As if I’m an athlete
As if I’m a rocket
As if I’m propulsion, personified,
A devastating engine that flames
The world around it and you
Are caught in the flames
In the very centre of the launch pad.
I try to slow down to give you time
For your devastated char to catch up,
To join me on a trip to Pluto.
You don’t want to come with me
Where it’s cold, where there’s no air.
You want to stay on earth where it’s safer.

***

Carrie Mathison, oh you patron saint
Of the bipolar antihero,
Protect us as you protect your country,
Love us for we are a broken America
With a volatile mood and frantic laws.
Praise Carrie Fisher, our queen
And fearless leader, electric lady,
Praise! This new unholy pantheon,
I am worshipping you as the sun,
We are praying to you all to guide us.
We are pleading for your mercy.
We are dying for your love to fix us.

***

I will be the one to save the world
And I will do it with my blood or tears
Both poured out from limitless reserves
In the name of the greater cause
That I can never quite articulate.

***

This word is meant to question meaning:
This solipsistic effort of the sodden self
This collapsing projection of my ego
This desperate memoir that cries
This is happening to me, how is
This happening to me? How
This is my life. Say how is
This “I” me?

***

And sometimes when I manic go
Walking go pacing in the dark
Go suburban night and manic steps
Go manic feet when manic thoughts
Make me Manic Me, and go with
Manic energy, go endlessly,
Burning off that excess life in me
And the needs that I need,
Go future scenes that will define
Some Future Me that still
Is going, more, until becoming
Lesser, less, the pit of me go,
Plummeting into the pit in me
So I go and I am gone,
I go and into nothing, go.

Sometimes I go and I go
Until I go –

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

4. Outside

I am sick to life of sadness. I leave it all behind.

Oh god, my gods, I am praying,
I am on my knees at your altar,
Constituting my own reality;
I bow my head and spine in your light
And say a prayer in every language pleading:
Let me live. Let me live. Let me live.

I go