Poem(s): To my errant mind

The following poem, “To my errant mind,” was originally published in my collection, After the Pills, which you may purchase here or here.

To my errant mind

Your dreams grow like a twisted gum.

Years were lost
When the market crippled you.

This dusty room is the archive
Of your failed state.

Now you forget little things –
Passwords, names, and faces.

Has the drink flooded the pathways
You once marched through?

Memories of solving equations –
But now you cannot read them.

Still, I light candles before you
Each Sunday.

Cut off from the common dwelling,
Concealed by our books,

We wait together to show
unknown shards of sudden thought.


And later in the morning  I discover in my collections of old prose from sometime in 2009 this prose fragment.

“My errant mind

At forty-five, in the spring-time of 2009, while blowing my nose like a dripping tap, and flushing my body of the histamines accumulated from my rye-grass allergy, histamines which yesterday left me helpless, fatigued and limp on my bed at four in the afternoon, I sit and watch my errant mind, which I have never trusted, and have for a long time now known to be not quite right, whirl and eddy through the rivers of images that pass through the gates of my self.

In this room, full of dust that I never clean from the books, many of which I have forgotten to possess, cut off from my family in the main dwelling of my suburban keep, in an old weatherboard hut, from which the brown palings are peeling off, and surrounded by old wallpaper, chosen by its former inhabitant, the young woman who lived here apart from her truck driver father and invalid mother, and which I have smeared with blue and yellow paint, in one relinquished effort to decorate in my own fashion, with no knowledge of colour or design and with no skill to execute whatever concept I may have held, I try to hold together in one volume the traces of myself I have scrawled now in notebooks and cards and computer files for 30 years but never, but once with a poem, and perhaps too in my historical studies, and again perhaps, as a ghostwriter of the dignified words of great men from politics and the public service.

The longing pathos of Parsifal’s overture rings out on my CD player, and his questions – what is my name, who is my father, who am I? – return like familiar spirits, who dwell in this room together with me, and who frown at my twisted evasion of their faces.

I wish to speak of the solitary experiences of my errant mind, where most of my life has truly been lived, not in external accomplishments or even in intimate relationships, but in these visions and illusions that pass through my head, and sometimes seem to seize control of it like a country combating the foreign forces that invade and are pushed out again.

This mind and its illusions are precious to me not because they express the truth, since for a decade now I have been convinced I have lost contact with the truth, or the belief that images in my mind comprehended the external world, made sense of it, corresponded in their logically developed propositions or emotionally charged successions of images to the patterns and the mathematics and the driving causes, if indeed there were such, that explained the world. When I admitted that the ways of the world, its working and arrangement had escaped the bounds of my conception, I became free, and my mind could bathe in sunshine, no longer afraid of the disciplinarians of the world, and the slow reckoning of the images of my mind became the matters of greatest importance to me.

In writing I am not the master of my words. I do not marshal language, material, concepts, quotations, little fragments of memory and reading, and plot in a clear plan, which like a circus master I present to the world, meticulously timed and organized. I sit like a novice and wait for the sudden unknown shards of thought.”

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