Tag Archives: insanity

Like Syd Barrett

I feel like Syd Barrett in a fun-house mirror,
as if the rest of the world has gone crazy;
and what’s left of the light has crawled off in a hole
where it’s becoming bloated and lazy.

Like the tale of dervish whose well was untainted
when the water supply became changed,
and he looked on with horror as everything pure
became somehow sick and deranged;

and then in desperation, he took just one sip
of the nectar his neighbors preferred;
in less than an instant, he too was convinced
that his previous life was absurd.

I feel like Syd Barrett, left grasping the edge
of a dream cut from bright colored glass,
a puzzle of unfinished mirrors and fragments
for watching the circus march past.

27 NOV 2007

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Half Crazy

I’ve always been a fan of reggae, calypso and island music in general; and the songs “Margaritaville” and “Two Pina Coladas” seemed to be missing what I’ve always seen as a crucial element in the description of relationship recovery: that madness, or craziness, that seems to engulf you on both the way in and way out, particularly where a protracted separation is required both medically and legally. A number of my songs touch on this factor in one way or another, with the ultimate purpose of finding something to laugh about in the situation as the best therapy.

I’ll tell you that I almost lost it
once or twice but now I’m doing fine.
There may have been an incident that put me down
somewhere along the line.
I’ve been held back, and I’ve lost track,
it got to be too much and I got lazy;
they tell me parts don’t make the whole, but
no one’s ever really just half crazy

I’ll tell you I was loco over you
but now I’ve come back to my sense.
Still, any man who’s studied Freud will tell you
there’s no middle of the fence;
and I’ll admit there’s quite a bit of time
where what I did is kinda hazy
I’m no exception to the rule, ’cause
no one’s ever really just half crazy

You told me that I’d done things wrong,
that I’d forgotten how to talk to you;
and furthermore, you’d gotten sore
that I could never give you what you’re due.
That may be so, but I don’t know,
the right and wrong of it still kinda phase me —
seems like we’re two sides of the same mind:
no one’s ever really just half crazy

You acted like you didn’t want
the things I did because they were insane,
and made me question who I was and every thought
that came into my brain.
I’ve been a wreck, in retrospect
you really should have known you couldn’t save me;
but knowing’s just one piece of mind and
no one’s ever really just half crazy


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More on Sanity and Madness

Who could imagine their ancestors
all stark raving mad,
or at least each generation
marking out as bad
an apple flung far from the tree,
opposed to status quo
and causing much embarrassment,
endless grief and woe?
Yet isn’t it a kind of madness
to mime, deaf and mute,
precisely as your forebears did,
and not press your own suit?
And times when the world was mad —
if your lot stayed the same,
would you not think it odd or find
some malady to blame?
To think that no one in my family
thought this world not right,
or questioned why it should be so,
gives me an awful fright.
For what is more insanity:
to flee a maddened world,
or find a place inside the whirlwind
and stay safely curled?
A paradox that troubles me
whenever I feel sane
is why I find a normalcy
amidst such strife and pain,
and why we fear insanity,
which makes us more aware
of that which keeps the world divided:
in here, and out there.

23 JAN 2005

One could argue, I suppose, that there is a hint of madness to be found in EVERY family tree. And for those that exhibit no overt sign of it, I suggest that itself is the madness.

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Sanity is a funny thing.

It often seems that the more you emphasize your own sanity, rely upon it as a sure thing, compare yours to others, the more likely it is that you are in fact not sane.

On the flip side, it seems to me that questioning one’s own sanity is one of the surest signs that you are NOT insane.

It’s like the Sufi story, wherein everyone drank of the water that came from their wells. One person kept some of this water in storage. One day, the water coming from the wells changed, and everyone who drank it behaved and believed completely different from how they had before. Further, they had no memory of the water that was before, or that the water was ever different. The person who had stored up the old water, however, continued drinking from his stockpile. As a result, he saw that everyone was acting in a manner that they previously would have considered insane; and any attempt he made to convince others that they had changed was met with ridicule. He even offered them some of his stockpiled water, and they considered him mad. As you can imagine, he became very lonely — yet managed to drink only stockpiled water…until one day, he decided he would rather be insane like everyone else, rather than sane and alone. So he drank a cup of water from the wells, and promptly forgot all about his stockpile, and behaved like everyone else. Everyone else, by the way, was relieved that the poor addled and insane fool had finally come to his senses.

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A Tendency to Madness

There is a touch of madness in my blood;
but not a malady of harmful need,
more like grasping out for things that last
despite all proof that just illusion stays.

My German, Swiss and Irish stock is sound –
at least, they learned self-medicating ways
to lose the swirling doubts that trap the mind
and seek to mire the soul in endless strife.

But in the French and English strains there is
no safety net to guard against the world
that grinning wildly reaches out to fool
the willing mark that wanders the arcade.

It feeds upon the silence between words,
a shadow hidden far from prying eyes;
and yet, I feel its presence in those times –
its desperate ambition to survive.

It consumes slowly, sucking at the bones
that frame both solid world and healthy dreams
leaving a fragile and de-marrowed shell
which crumbles without warning into dust.

I fight against this great insanity
that lingered in the minds of my forebears
and turned once thoughtful paragons of wit
to sad, bent husks of life welcoming death.

Perhaps the gene is watered down enough
that it may find no purchase in my fate;
or finding others in my line to chase
that prove less argumentative, elect

to spare my later years this sapping curse.
It also may be that my madness lies
on other tangents, stronger than this thing;
The Celts have demons, too, that must be fed.

27 MAY 2004

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La Vita Nuova

Ah, could I be quite so fully undone
by that which being shown me made me whole,
Love? To see it in just one place, begun,
then its ending, elsewhere, would leave my soul

lost. To pine for that which in visions lives,
but cannot manifest in fact, or clothe
itself in flesh: such limitation gives
new life to heaven and hell, being both.

Dante, were you truly in love, your eyes
would behold no other sight save that state,
and your undoing would be undisguised

delight – called by some fools a madman’s fate!
Ah, to be so undone, to find magic
in the world as it is, is not tragic.

14 JUL 2003

For whom has Love so undone you?
I, smiling, would look at them and say nothing.
— Dante Alighieri, La Vita Nuova

for Pietro

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This one may be the hardest to write yet,
because words are not what make a thing so;
and sometimes, it is easy to forget
this fact, and think the world cannot just go

on praying (which is an action, surely,
yet times require a much more active verb),
but will seek for solutions based purely
on a desire to stop this mad, absurd

denial of our shared humanity.
Too many sit and bewail these harsh times,
still do not speak against our sickened state;

one definition of insanity
is helping the heartless and mean to climb,
waking only when it is far too late.

08 MAR 2003

for Ed Book

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