January 7, 2009
By Jimmy Daggett, Woodside, CA

He wakes up
and it starts. Before he even gets out of bed
it starts.

It’s like he’s living with two people
stuck in his head.
And when he opens his eyes,
one of them’s dead.

It’s a roller coaster, every day of his life.
A roller coaster of more than cheap thrills.

It’s a life, it’s meaning, it’s triumph,
it’s death.
He gets up, slugging his feet out of bed,
touching the cold floor, a floor freezing and dead.

And he’s up,
clinking and chugging up the steep climb, the cart clanging and banging as it rises on the track:
he can now see for miles,
for acres, for kilometers.
In every direction, through every corner of his mind,
His past, his family, his friends, his lovers, his enemies,
They surround him as real as ever,

For that is the gift he possesses:
All that is real is splayed before him,
He is content, even happy, he is
Counting his chickens. He can see all that care for him,
He can remember all the love he has received,
He can remember the good times, the times that make
His heart swell.

But he is at the top.

He has barely made it through the door of the bathroom that is too small when it all comes crashing down, the air screams past him, the people around him shriek.
He is falling.

What is he doing? What is his life?
Why is he wasting his time? Why doesn’t she like him back?
Why hasn’t he finished? Why does he care so much?
What is his life?

He lets out a grunt, trying to flush the feelings from inside,
But the roller coaster is still plunging downwards. There is no way to stop it, it is something much bigger than himself. He grabs the edge of the sink: he clenches his fists until his knuckles are white: his insides are twisting and screaming: the good memories are tainted, flayed with black paint. It is oozing down them, it is obliterating the little left to see; the faces are turning to
Now the bad memories begin to flood his soul, begin to claw at his insides, begin to eat at him.
The room is growing dark. Time is ticking past. His vision is blurring and dancing with dark flames.

She led him on, she touched his cheek, she nestled next to him,
But she didn’t mean it.
They looked at him, they laughed at him, they saw something far from normality,
And they ignored him.
He tried to explain, he tried to tell, he tried to reveal his side of the matter,
But he is not a man for words.

And now it comes crashing down. Now a cavern, now a small spluttering torch.
It is a sickly green beyond the small ring of firelight. And everything echoes,
Not just sounds and words,
But thought,
And they are laughing, some quietly, some cackling, out there in the darkness.
Who is this creature?
How can he take himself seriously?
What is this naïve, sad little being?
He is not one of us. Off with his head!

Now a ship, now a crew, now an ocean shinning blue.
Waves sparkling in the morning sun.
Islands naught but dots on the violently horizontal horizon.
It is high seas! It is adventure! It is swashbuckling!
And it is false. It can’t be true. Nothing this good is ever true.

And he comes crashing down, jolted around in his wooden seat. The coaster is still rocketing forward. It was just a brief, millisecond period of relief, a small up in the track, but now they’re rushing back down, and around and around.
The coaster is still moving forward. The people are still shrieking. His hands are white.
He can’t look up. He can’t face himself in the mirror. He can’t face…this…..this person…

Who is this person? It’s not the same one who woke up from that bed a few mere seconds ago.
This is someone else.

He is alone.
This bathroom is too small.
Save for the other person in his head.

And now he meets his eyes in the mirror, his dark brown eyes, like two holes. He is still falling.
Who is this person looking back at him?
Why the hell does he wear his hair like that?!?
Why is his face covered in pimples??
Why can’t he be more like other people?!?

Do other people constantly re-examine every inch of their lives?
Are other people constantly assuring themselves that it is all right?
Do others have such troubles simply facing themselves?

There is no escape from yourself. There is no way to leave behind this dark force dragging you down.

Who are you?!?
Who are you that tests him, that stabs at him time and time again?!
That makes him cry himself to sleep at night because the coaster just went down, down farther than it has in weeks, down below the ground?

How could she do that?!?
How could she drag him along, get his hopes up, rest her head on his shoulder, then change her mind?!?
Why does he care so much?!?
Why is every little thing a trial?!?
Why can’t anyone understand what he is and what he is going through?!?

It is dark, now.
And still he is in front of the mirror.
All day he has been in front of the mirror.
All day he has been looking into those dark, hollow eyes.

Who is this person looking back at him?

He is alone.

The coaster moves on.
Now a wrath, now a ruin. Now a flame rising cackling into the night sky. Now a building crashing down to the ground.
He is okay. He is always okay. He never gets hurt in these scenarios.
There are gunshots.
He never gets hurt because they are not real. They are just chemicals firing in his brain.
There are great bangs and explosions.
He never gets hurt because it is the one place he has control.

Or at least it should be. It is for most people.

But he is different. There is something wrong with him. There is an imbalance in his brain. There are too many of this, and too few of that.

There is something wrong with him.

The coaster moves on. Up and down, down and up.
Happy, sad.
Ecstatic, depressed.
Cackling, crying.
Screaming, sobbing.

Something’s wrong.
Couldn’t be happier.
Wanting to die.
Something’s wrong.
Nobody knows. Nobody understands.
Something’s wrong.
There’s a name for it. This wrongness.
There’s a name.

Something is wrong.
He’s bipolar.

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This article has 1 comment.

Joy26 said...
on Jan. 22 2009 at 2:00 am
Sooo good! I don't think you need the last two lines... the title explains enough, and poetry is more about show than tell, which is what you did such a wonderful job with in the rest of the poem. Awesome!


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