Jeffrey Pethybridge

At Margot's New Years Party, Charles nervous
from the newness of the medication, already a hint
of the weight-gain, his shoulders turning ox-
like, the pills—"fucking ox-gall"—laying on him a yoke
of his own muscles. "The inscrutable thing
is what I hate," he said committed to theory,

committed to a search-even-through-the-rags theory
of conduct. The praying mantis nervous
at not knowing, for the other, what kind of thing
it is—his only tattoo, years to complete and spans his entire back. The first hint
of sickness came as a sign: the sun a smear of yolk
over the city. Then the terrible brawl with the Ox-

bridge boys: one's cheek, an unwrapped from butcher-paper ox-
heart: Charles panting for oxygen. That sun, a Theory
in a sense, of how Charlie sees his violent-self yoked
to the nervous cinéaste, with some inscrutable malice sinewing nerving
an attitude that builds and stubborns into a drive (I try not to hint
he scares me when he gets like this). Nothing,

no tao or theory, and god knows no amount of will, says if the thing
is principle or agent, so he takes the pills. White whale, blue ox,
Red Sox: essential matrix of myths that hints
at the self-inflicted mania and pure delusion of America; as in a theory
of alter-egos the identities never appear at the same time, nervous
at revelation. Yoked, as the hyphen yokes

manic-depressive, how metaphor yokes through abstraction, language yoking
each thing to its word; world too, that field strewn of particularities yoked by nuclear-bonds—everything
its chain. For a year at Johns Hopkins nervous
he'd dissociate. Nervous system, Charlie argues, is ox-
ymoronic, and so are psychosomatic, Chaos Theory,
chiaroscuro and the neon-red sweet-&-sour syrup that gives no hint

of what it's actually made of. Three billion base-pairs, three billion hints
coiled on the gene-lathe, the double-helix yoke
underwriting nerve-root and yoga alike. "It's not just a theory
of fate, Charles; there is a molecular aspect to schizophrenia. To say that something
is beyond your control is not to say there's nothing to do, man."—"You're right, nox-
ious humors can be bleed." Nervous when he doesn't call for a few days, nervous

his new theory of silence or renunciation is absolute; no hint
to talk him out of it. Nervous, at a loss, really, how guilt dogs him: "...been feeling like broken yolk
for saying that last thing on New Years." Quit speech, entirely, the last year of the ox.



For me one ideal form, which is also a generative ambition, for the Poem to achieve is that of an heuristic into reality that is also an expression which adds to reality. This falls short of sounding out Being itself and keeps the Poem troubled by knowledge and knowing; perhaps this is an American problem. Nonetheless, this "experimental realism," which is a way of finding out things about perceiving and is also a new source of perception, has become, for me, a necessary counter-force to the intractable powers of depression, madness, and suicide. "Charles" is a close friend although his name is not "Charles."