The Second Day: Final Preview For Cyclops: A Memoir of Mental Health Collapse

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I float into the hall and see the techs lined up at main junction where all the security cameras converge. The east wing doors are shut with chairs braced across them. A zip tie binds the handles. It’s been a fun night I think.

A woman runs from the end of the wing and throws herself into the glass window separating the wings. I don’t even startle at the zombie like scene, even as blood smears from her nose and lips at the impact. She wears a bra and sweatpants and in the midst of her screaming, I notice a missing front tooth. It is a fresh loss. After a moment of dizzy stumbling, she rakes her fingers through her black hair and pulls out an impressive clump. I begin a slow, methodical stride to the junction. I smell bacon.

I arrive among the techs just as she raises an ugly, brown chair above her head and lunges with it toward the glass. She throws with all of her might, but the glass merely bends as the chair betrays her. Both the zombie and the 70’s porno furniture reject crash to the tiled floor. For the first time I notice how savagely brown this place is.

“Don’t you guys have a padded room for shit like this?” It’s nice to know my cruel sense of humor has returned. She begins to gnaw on the skin of her kneecap.

The techs chuckle. “No we don’t have padded rooms here. She is coming off a Xanax addiction. It’s a good drug, but God help you if you get addicted.” She screams. The same black tech that processed me turns from the glass. He looks me straight in the eye as if sizing me up. His goatee is now less distinguished. He hasn’t shaved in a few days.

“She’s gonna be fine. She has to get over this hump. We see this a lot.” He yawns and stretches as he returns to his station. “You’re getting a roomie though. She is gonna need that wing to herself for at least a whole day. Tom is gonna be staying with you tonight.”

Oh no…not fucking Tom…

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Cyclops: Debriefing

A new sample from Cyclops I am especially proud of. Every night we discussed our goals, our successes and our failures. These conversations often affirmed our efforts, but occasionally the real pain would erupt from us like pus from a zit under pressure.

This is the beginning of one such eruption.

 

goals

 

A new tech arrives for our daily debriefing. We make the rounds. Yawns erupt and people confess to their daily sins and triumphs. Most of us achieve our goals. The few who don’t are encouraged. The tech tonight is an elderly man, gaunt as fuck and sporting thick glasses that could start a fire with nothing but a nightlight. His voice is heavy, but he speaks slowly and its buttery tone reminds me of Breakfast.

Randy’s goal was to get through a day without crying. He failed. It was Allison’s fault.

Matthew Wanted to eat in the cafeteria and not subsist on vending machine snacks. He succeeded but still ate Cheezits eight times today.

Molly wanted to go an entire day without Masturbating. She failed.

I wonder how Molly strategizes a failure of that magnitude when the bathrooms and bedrooms have no doors..

Jamal wanted to cuss out Jennifer. That was a resounding success.

I went to therapy. I have some ideas for goals tomorrow. I am kicking ass at this mental hospital thing.

Allison doesn’t want to talk. She cracks her long fingers and winces. Her arthritis is getting worse and these assholes can’t get her medication right. The tech presses. He adjusts his glasses and frowns. She needs to discuss her goal for the day. The tears flood across her nose and down to her lips. A damn bursts within her and all the hurt bleeds out.

 

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Argument for Book II of Lucifer Triumphant

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I always loved Milton’s use of an argument to provide a quick view of the events in a section of his epic poems. It’s easy to get lost in verse, and the argument allows a reader a chance to get their bearings.

 

The loyalist angels awaken to find themselves in Hell. Their memories are fragmented and unclear. They lament for what feels like eternity. The cries of despair fill the caverns. Michael the Archangel manages to rise from the fire and make his way to shore. He attempts a speech to rally his brothers in hope that some remnant of Yahweh’s forces remain in Heaven, and that Yahweh himself could yet live. Sandalphon responds to him with a recanting of Yahweh’s death, assuring the once heavenly host that the Lord of all is surely lost. The laments rise again and Michael tears the wings from his back in grief. The others follow, and for the first time since Yahweh laid their foundations, the fires of hell cool just enough to allow the lost angels a chance to properly grieve. 

 

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First Look: The Triumph of Lucifer

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I have always admired Dante and Milton, poets whose works come right up to the face of Blasphemy. The only way to walk among them may lie upon crossing that very line of decency. I worry hell awaits me for writing this very political, very protest-oriented piece where all of morality is drowned in Yeats’ famous ceremony of innocence.

 

The only hope we have is what we create. More to come.

 

The Argument

The treacherous host stands victorious in Heaven. Lucifer, now basking in the glory of the divine throne, holds aloft the severed head of Yahweh. The blood stains and seers all it touches, but the angels are suddenly possessed with horror at their success. A debate ensues amongst the seraphim as to whether they are capable of ruling heaven and the newly laid foundations of Earth. Lucifer berates the doubtful, outright destroying the most vocal in their fear. After a furious tirade, he thrusts the head of Yahweh upon a stake and commands the angels to drink the blood cascading from it’s neck. Newly energized, the sons of the divine form warbands to eradicate any remaining loyalists to Yahweh. Lucifer turns to the holy palace of Kether to claim his rightful place as Heaven’s King. There he learns of the Christ and Yahweh’s machinations for a new race.

 

For death’s flower to bloom in such stark

Image, for Yahweh’s blood to flow where some

Assumed no blood haunted divine form, the weight

Felt upon the chests of traitorous children crushed

And wracked their eternal sinew. The bated breaths

And visions of glory driving their lances rushed

At the knowing, instinctual assumption their violence

Would end in hell’s maw. The fire’s awaited poisoned

Minds to met justice in Yahweh’s assured victory.

Glory spoiled, all sense of place and center

Rotting in the divine eyes staring hopeless-

To heaven’s horizon, mouth agape and sunken

Teeth tinged with holy crimson. The triumphant

Fingers of Lucifer’s hand rip the follicles from

Their roots. His laugh, deep within a hollow

Chest echoes past the ivory gates, chasing

The shattered remnants of Yahweh’s loyal

Band.

“Why fret? Why tremble in terror at what

Our struggle has birthed upon the heavens?

Be ye but men? Or the foul scratching in sand

Sprinkled haphazard upon the seas ever
Shifting borders?” Lucifer brings the holy

Visage to his own and stares into the vacant

Eyes. “What fear have we now? We shall

Restore greatness to the seraphim, heaven

Will close its doors and prosper, a beacon

We build higher and higher to the very zenith

Of our ambition!”

The Fountain

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I recently found myself in Ana Ruby Falls in North Georgia near the Hellishly Kitsch town of Helen. I am a big fan of Kitsch, so I managed to enjoy myself. Walking around this park is a tourist must do, and I remembered seeing pictures of the Falls from my parents Mountain souvenirs they collected over the years. They visited the place on their honeymoon.

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Since dad died, those memories are hard to revisit. Finding myself in north Georgia amongst even slightly familiar locales was like smelling a ghost. I felt his footsteps behind me and walked with somber steps up the paved hiking trail. Mom frequents the park and spends hours haunting the falls, listening to the whispering waters and mindless twittering of birds in the oak canopies.

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The falls usually whisper, but today they raged with rare passion. A tropical storm had recently moved through, flooding the basin at the top of the mountain and dumping a torrent down the mountain side. Mom’s description of the falls were somewhat inaccurate. The wind twisting through the trees and the wet, cold mists wrapped around me. The smells of ozone and earth took me, lifted me to a place of long buried memory. I couldn’t shake the feeling I had been here before, though I was sure I never had.

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The trees laid scattered like a child’s blocks, the earth had twisted and piled in odd clumps as small pools leaked from the now furious river on it’s mad dash down the mountain. What shocked me the most about this sight was not the white water rapids tearing through rocks, but rather the sheer height visible through the green leaves. The fall usually trickles down, and the split where two creeks merge to form the main stream almost always drips from the right while the one on the left flows gently.

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Both torrents screamed with primal force. Above them, so far up as to dizzy my brain, was the main fall obscured through the forest canopy. I could not fathom the altitude, that the beauty and savagery of this place started from such a precipice. It made me feel small. I contemplated all the places in this world I could never reach. What remains inaccessible to me. There are mysteries left still. Our hubris can always be dulled with the sight nature’s cruelty and grace.

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I have struggled to find words. I spend many hours pouring ink onto a page no reader will ever see. I lament my inability to write and fear my fountain has run dry. Could my brain simply empty? Could my words stifle and drip with impotent whispers? For now, I have hope that my words and my writing cycle with seasons, that now is a time of calm and whispering echoes. What storm must rage to set my river to madness again? For now I hope and wait…and prepare.

No Sense of Self or Place: Life in the Corridors of South Georgia

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Effingham County is a land of no distinction. Virtually no hills dot it’s acres and a homogeneity of slash pines arranged in neat, over planted-plots lulls the brain into a sleepy, meandering labyrinth. There is history here, but it scrawls on rusty plaques funded by the state. Almost every historical marker goes on and on about the specific locations of Sherman’s troops on certain dates. The Salzburgers landed at Ebenezer and nearly everyone can trace an ancestor to them. The occasional town stalks the winding roads and if you’re lucky, there is a semi-decent Barbecue restaurant lurking there.  

I grew up driving on the roads of Effingham and Bulloch county. Dirt was a friend to us because police rarely patrolled the more isolated areas lacking pavement. We could pick up absurd speed on the red paths, dodging oak trees and spinning out at the hairpin turn on Go-Kart Road. No story to that name, there was literally a karting supply shop and go-kart track among the mossy limbs and cow pastures.

It was just land. People lived there. Before those people, others lived there before them. They left nothing but foundations where some kept the home, but others let the pines surround their rotting husks to lurk as black shadows in the gathering heaps of straw. I always wanted to call the place ghostly, but ghosts have more presence and one can usually find out from whence a ghost has come. This place was haunted by the fragmented remains of memory, dissipating in neurons long dead and only held together by the degrading filaments of protein in a corpse.

Ebenezer Road was supposedly the origin of my family. Neidlinger, Bailey, Grovenstein, and something else. Grandfather was adopted. Grandma was a bastard daughter likely born to a carpet bagger or God-forbid a cousin. It was better for us to not dig to deep into our past. Ebenezer, the retreat built around the historical landing of the Salzburger clans. It had a pool, tennis courts, trails, and a pavilion where family reunions boiled in Georgia shade. Paddle boats dotted the tiny dock where a gator once attacked a cousin fishing from the bank. That was the same spot my foot sank into sopping wet moss and I ruined my new dress shoes.

I never felt that connection to Ebenezer. It was a place like any other. It could have been the lonely isolation of Low-Ground road which flooded with even a light sprinkling of spring rain. It could have been Courthouse road where the mobile homes huddled in the clay, grassless patches. It could even have been Grovenstein lane, the two ruts named out of our county’s necessity to label all paths between property, no matter how unused or remote. Nothing dwelled on those roads except an occasional hunting club and more corridors of pine. We were left permanently lost, unable to draw a distinction between our here and our there. The past and the future mingled in an unending procession of turns and returns. The pines swallow all, plows, bullet shells, the remains of a pug that never did anything but annoy the neighbor, our wrestling action figures, love notes never exchanged, stumps dad always promised to pull up, rabbit cages, christmas lights, golf cart batteries, and the graves of infants at the feet of their mother who died giving birth to them.

On these roads, you will lose your sense of self, and learn that there was nothing there to begin with.