The Wisdom of Others
Concerning Insanity

"Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering."

~~ Carl Jung

"If you talk to God, you are praying; if God talks to you, you have schizophrenia."

~~ Thomas Szasz

"Conceding to Catholicism"

(for Miles)

I include your electric razor
in a satchel with socks, underwear --
principled provisions; I detest butternut,
but I wear that dress because you like it.

They confiscate the razor, against
the rules, they say; you’ll run amok,
shave yourself to death. Burlesque
sneers at fear – my heart beats.

I am deaf to a man who strokes
my head, snares my unwashed hair;
go blind to a woman in gray, waiting
for waylaid, unsuspecting buses.

They unlock your door; you lay
unbalanced on the floor, reading
magazines upside down through
frames whose lenses came unglued.

You smile – good breeding, not
remembrance. Soon we’re eating ice
cream, civilize an afternoon, from harm-
less wooden spoons to paper-tiger cups.

Sensing my heart slow, you play piano
on your dresser, though you’ve had no
lessons; instruments here sing paroxysm,
not harmonies. You ask my name again.

You entreat me not to leave you
in this imbroglio, profess your Cheerios
are poisoned, confide Mata Hari fried
for less than you have leaked to me.

You speak secret German spy code,
maintain your monkey is a mole; madness
as abstraction was unsociable. Now,
its repugnant head is lying in my lap.

It abducts you and our biography
with it too; pulls my plugs,
plugs my throat, very nearly halts
the rhythm of my heart.

Doctors call it “stone heart” --
one so frozen with fear
or shock that it forgets to beat.

Your Naked Ape escape attempt
is lore, the only normal feat you’ve
forced in weeks; cracks up my chest,
acts as paddles to steady the beats.

Later, I light candles, convert our
bedroom to a church; honor
expropriated faith, become
malcontent novitiate turned nun.

The bead between Hail Mary
and Our Father pleads for stone
heart to take me, for fear or shock
to kill me sometime in the night.

© 2000 MJM

Featured in the August 2000 edition of Stirring, V2:E8


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