Triple Point

As you draw closer to christmas, perhaps it’s good to post something that fits the time of year. Something depressing. The title is based on the notion of the triple point in physics, the first temperature at which water can exist in solid, liquid or gas.


there is a point
at which friends are neither
necessary, sufficient or useful;
let us call it the triple point
where one is woven in with the background,
stitched to the passage of time.

for example:
I still receive mail for Mr. Daniel Bertrand,
which I place to one side each day,
and which, each day,
the postman places back inside the box
with the gloomy regularity
of a pendulum
My ventures outside become anonymous;
I try not to recognize people or move suddenly
in case they recognize me;
inside, I dart and scurry in hallways lest I get trapped
by a neighbour or lost child.
I have become a rarely-sighted species,
hunting laundry by night and groceries on Wednesday afternoons
the laundry tiger

When one disappears like this
(I think of a chalky white pill dissolving
in a lukewarm glass of water)
it is a gradual process. First
one stops talking to those people who require
effort, those friends who are tiresome in one sense
or another.
Next come those who are far away,
then the unreliable
the circle constricts like the shrinking pill,
the shirts you could wear
when younger
which no longer fit right
you are simply a dot in the centre of an
expanding circle of whiteness
that eventually will average you out

Auden said ‘Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone’
Instead, I remove the battery from my Ikea clock,
accidentally dropping it down the side of the bed in the process;
my telephone cannot be cut off, only cancelled.
Too late, I will receive a large bill for my trouble.
And woven into the fibres of the paper,
so small that even microscopes holding microscopes
could only begin to make out the edges of letters,
are tiny words that reach out and pull me
into a womb of white noise.


I’m off my meds!


I find that so often with blogs, the personal intertwines with the creative. I’m not sure if creative personalities are that much more vulnerable to the vicissitudes of mental health, or if it’s just that poetry or writing itself is more closely linked to the mental realm than other things one could be doing. For example, I find that my work performance is not really affected by depression or my mental health (positive or otherwise) as much as my writing is. I suppose that’s good because it means I haven’t missed nearly as much work as I could have as a result of my various brain troubles, but I digress. A few weeks ago I stopped taking my medication. All at once. For those of you looking away in disapproval or tut-tutting at me, I would not recommend this to anyone. As usual in my life, it’s a case of do what I say, not what I do. However, I do have a reasonable excuse. Let me expound. Or expand. Expostulate?

About a month ago I realized that I had lost my prescription from my doctor. Amazingly this is the second time this has happened. One would have thought that doctors would have come up with a better system than a scribbled bit of paper for getting access to potentially dangerous substances, but it seems not. Perhaps Canada is just lagging behind and the rest of the world is happily emailing their prescriptions directly to the pharmacy of their choice, or better still posting them onto some shared website for any pharmacist to access. Anyway. As a responsible patient, I did nothing for about a week. Work has been very busy, and I kept forgetting to call them during business hours. And I still had some pills left, so I wasn’t worried. Eventually I got round to calling, and of course there was nobody there. I left a detailed message explaining the situation (as this is what I had to do last time to get it fixed). I never received a call back. A few days later I went to the chemist/pharmacist just to check if my prescription had been delivered, but nothing was there. Now, being the somewhat lackadaisical individual that I am, I did nothing again. Part of this was because I was sure they would eventually call me back, but also on some level I saw this as an opportunity. Circumstance is good motivation for me, and I saw this as ideal timing. At my last appointment, my doctor and I had agreed that I was to taper off my medication gradually (one drug at a time), and in fact I had already tapered off one of my three meds. So what with one thing and another, this seemed like a good time to stop the others.

I was prepared for withdrawal symptoms (although Wellbutrin is notoriously nice in that respect) or some dramatic change in my mood or emotions. In fact, the results were rather boring. It’s now about four weeks later, and I feel essentially the same. I have a little less energy to do things, but it’s not a huge change, and frankly I would rather be unmedicated and slightly slothful than constantly questioning my own autonomy. I have also been working up to 10 hour days, which may explain why I have no energy in the evenings. I am trying to force myself to do things like reading and writing, with limited success. I went swimming today, which I am quite proud of. But overall, very little change. In fact, this experience has me questioning the usefulness of medication at all for someone in my position. I think that I am largely stable right now, and accordingly, medication doesn’t really help me. Of course it’s the first thing any psychiatrist would suggest, but perhaps some sort of talk therapy would be more useful. A revelation! 

I should disclaim again at this point that I don’t advocate stopping meds without consulting one’s physician, or stopping taking things cold turkey. I am very resistant to most side effects of most medications, and the ones I take (or rather was taking) don’t have any severe side effects anyway. When dealing with the brain, caution is best I feel. Don’t try this at home, kids!


I wrote this a while ago but realized I hadn’t posted it. This was written about someone I felt sorry for…


I saw it all while she spoke. It flickered past in that space between thought and vision, the silver screen of the mind. I saw her parents never quite register her presence. She burned brighter, hoping to turn them like moths towards her. All that sound converted to a humming light. She jumped and danced and twirled: nothing nothing nothing and then. Changed. Subtly that first time, a lengthening, a darkening. Perhaps this creature they will notice. No? Perhaps this? Perhaps this? Each change more and more rapid the phenotypes blurring in their succession such that, like a film strip, only change was visible, motive, highlighted.

The creature became one of change, its only existence in its own transience. The film strip came loose, flailed against the light. I saw that boy gripped her arm made her feel safe things begin to slow like a carousel ending she could have stepped off could have but did not step off and now too tight not safe that boundary between safe and imprisoned crossed. Saw how he held her back saw that he did not stop when she said no and she clung to something safe to be in love with that could never hit back or leave. I saw her love the music and clutch it to herself as she turned and turned again in the maze. No! That way goes back where you came! She stamped and shrieked into the crosshatched shadows. I saw her get up a thousand times, saw her never leave the bed. She did not know why, just that she had to go on. Each day on and on and never why just grinding down the enamel of days. But not knowing why is somehow not going on. Some small part of her knew that she was beautiful and was sad at the stretches of blood like drying raindrops. I saw every moment fractured, turned inside-out, reflected and half-reflected, splintered and reformed.

She had forgotten my name. From something so small it came like a lash. I realized that she hadn’t meant it, she hadn’t seen the shadowplay, the marionette all tangled in its own string. But that was just it. It was unthinking. This glass creature so focused on not breaking, every moment created and destroyed, eventually is bound to leave fragments in its wake. Stark sparkles they attract us like sharks to blood. So much blood. None of us ever mean it. We never think at all, any more. And that is how.

New Year’s Day

new year’s day
the mites patrol the halls
the beetles shudder in the rafters
all things silent
as our footsteps over old snow
it is the season of barbiturates
of totality archived
be it silence or noise
and never looked up again
the snow tears at my skin
like streamers
this pale etymology of power
flows off the edges of me
the way that only winter can believe
a broken hammer lies on the kitchen table
an expired ticket
a fierce disease
this seasonal decline, unresolved
slips in as easily as a needle
we on that long walk
from nowhere to nowhere
collapsing with each footstep
we cannot take

Back from the dark side?

Well, from the UK actually. That vacation bliss enveloped me for about 12 hours, then I had to go back to work and it all disappeared. I find myself back exactly where I was before. Not that I was expecting a week of vacation to change my life, but at the same time I was surprised not to have more energy or enthusiasm, at least temporarily.

Today is a day for a sad song, and I can’t think of one better than this.