I’ve been trying to capture what he sees, what he feels in a poem. And it won’t come out right. My mind doesn’t hear the numbers that are beating into his. I don’t see things the same way. He starts talking about the government using television and commercials to blind us and I saw us all nod in agreement. He spoke of being a disillusionist and chopping down the world by its stilts and I felt like I heard clarity between the forced lines he spoke. He’s a musician. He likes “roots music”; gospel, blues, bluegrass. He spoke of Robert Johnson and juke joints- he just wanted to go see, to go feel for himself. I’ve been to those places, those hole in the wall joints deep in Mississippi where you will find yourself playing pool and drinking whiskey until you’re swaying right along with whoever, for whatever, on just this side of dreamland. It can feel like the moment before wakefulness in those smokey old bars. I understood him- he just wanted to feel that, to make his music.
And then, he said that “The grass is always greener” was a phrase about hope. And then he couldn’t remember the date. “Time is like a rubix cube in my mind”. He stops paying attention. All the questions are turned back onto us and I’m not the only one at the edge of my seat wanting to answer; wanting him to look up so I can see into his eyes. I think he started laughing because he knows this. He knows that we are writing down all the minutia. We’re noting what his hands are doing and how he is dressed. We can see through his shirt to the track lines. He knows that no matter what he says today we aren’t letting him leave and that we have the power to do that. We’re going to give him pills that stop the numbers but give him back the time. He won’t want to join the revolution in Egypt, or Libya or here. And he wont write his music either.
We label that schizoaffective disorder, bipolar with auditory hallucinations. Well what else do you call a musician? Running around with rhythms in their heads…I wonder though, if you sat this kid down with say Jimi Hendrix and Elvis and Robert Johnson and Son House- if he could understand them better than we. Or if they could understand him better than we. How many trips have covered manic episodes? What would a guitarist on depakote sound like? Undoubtedly, not like Hendrix. What other Faustian bargians were made in the name of a guitar, fiddle, mic? He said he hallucinates for clarity.
Don’t we all.
They gave me vicodin at 14 because I have bad migraine headaches. I started taking oxycodone because its stronger than the vicodin. I got on heroin because it was cheaper and a better high than oxycodone. Then when I wanted to quit I got put on methadone and then diconal to get off the methadone and then a blood pressure medicine to help get me off of that.
The devil’s in the aforementioned details: Vicodin at 14? He never had a chance.