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Madness

This picture, to me. symbolises madness. It's related to the overarching theme of my poem.

“Understand me. I’m not like an ordinary world. I have my madness, I live in another dimension and I do not have time for things that have no soul.” 
― Charles Bukowski

The pastor would return home

after flirting with the

ladies at the church, leading

them on with quotes laced

with Ecclesiastical seasoning,

a fragrance that he believed

added another wondrous dimension

to his redeemed soul, and find his

wife playing with their son.

He’d backhand her.

“I don’t want you mollycoddling the boy,”

he’d say, the spittle like little shards of

a broken mirror, falling on her face.

He’d then torture the child with

long-winded spiels about a ‘man’s

place in society,’ slapping him if he

didn’t nod at the right time,

ask his wife to bring him supper,

and quickly finish it before taking

her to bed, irrespective of her

mood. The boy grew up,

a spitting image of his father

but instead of religion, he chose

art — raw metaphors of

gashes and pustule-ridden penises

symbolising anger,

images of commodes and

urinals, a scatological obsession

rivaling Mozart’s, representing sin,

and a tone of unparagoned hate,

masked by allusions to some poet’s vice like

Larkin’s addiction to violent pornography,

running through his work

like a blade cutting skin.

The women loved his poems,

called them ‘real,’

and he lived a life of sybaritic

decadence, taking what he wanted,

when he wanted it,

going off on self-destructive

benders which involved cocaine,

hookers, and downers that

gave him an introspective melancholy,

making soft music played on a loop

seem otherworldly —

delicate but callused fingers

of bittersweet inspiration, fuelling

the sober odes

he published once in a while,

the mellow, auburn, lyrical poems,

making his readers think he

was a gentle soul at heart,

a tough man with a soft core,

a fleshy delight within husk.

The women swooned and swooned

talking about Jackson Pollock’s

Full Fathom Five —

the energy of

being and the animus towards

conformity, the darker aspects

of the psyche represented

as a galaxy, a world that

seizes and imprisons.

Another writer, a goody two shoes

with raging, sexual angst

rivaling Don Jon, unrealistic

needs and desires projected

on a page as poems about the

sun, stars, moon and sky

hated him, labelling him coarse

and lewd, afraid his own vulgarity

would rise to the surface like

bubbles in hot water,

and so, he wrote more

about the sun, stars, moon and sky

to assuage his guilt and insecurity.

But this isn’t a poem about either

of them. You can consider

everything written above a red

herring like deception used in a

mystery book, or a waste of time,

I don’t care. I believe we all have

those older brothers

or younger brothers in us,

those self-righteous pretenders, or

those prodigals,

we’re all Janus-faced

like a motivational speaker

asking one to lead their best life

before shutting the doors of his

church when a flood hits,

barring refugees from entering

because he has money

hidden in the pipes,

but it takes shrewd discernment

and humility to accept that

you’re not a good

person who has made a few ‘mistakes’

and led a ‘reasonable life’

or a hard lesson to stop

venerating your moral turpitude,

crowning it with a coronet of

white tears or little bottles,

it takes Zen to balance

the good and evil,

the superabundant harvest

and Chernobyl,

but I’m not here to preach,

I think I’m both an older and

younger brother, an amalgamation

of earning grace and receiving it

with tears, but as I write these

lines — a hypomanic muse

like the one that runs through

oddball comedies shapes each

word with a Mephistophelian

intensity as they stumble or strut,

fail or empower,

possessing me with chronophobia,

an impetus to write, write, and write more

as the clock ticks, tocks, chimes, whines

making madness my best friend,

giving me bloodshot eyes and insomnia,

my bearded face framed in

a dark aureole, an

insatiable need to wage war

interspersed with a silence that

drifts over greyscale —

silver, soothing, shutting out

noises within and without.

Photo by Diane Picchiottino on Unsplash

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