Americaphiles

The Story Of My Fucking Life

Seventy-five

Posted by ilbebe on January 23, 2012

Here’s yr weekend wrap-up report: No ghosts, all good times, gold rusters rushed for naught and bled blue blame, ElDeeEl doubled down and quit smoking after some brief flare-ups. Thirty hours now. Strange confluence of fifteens and nines, summing to twenty-fours. Figured it was relevant to tell you where this all started, so below is a poem I started writing sometime in the spring of 2007, after my brief commitment at the mental hospital. I finished it sometime in the summer of 2007, after I saw a relation between my situation and that of my friend M Pie’s dog Mason, who was taken away by animal control after he got out one morning and bit someone. He was off of his meds, so they took him away from M Pie and his fiancée four days before their wedding. They said he was pretty good with barks, but barks will never save your life, and they didn’t, so he died. They killed him. Here’s our story. It is called Owl, and it is dedicated to Theodor Geisel.

Mason

went

mad.

His brain was broke

He cut one wrist with a rusty bicycle spoke

Instantly realizing that what he’d done was wrong

He ran to the hospital to sew up his arm

But in the land of the free

Health care ain’t

So the hospital advised to him to pray to a saint

To protect him from tetanus

So to a church he went next

Where the priest sized him up and said

“Was your mother Aztec?”

So he hopped on a bus, was refused for lack of fare

Fell to his knees and screamed “Does anybody care?”

Then a billboard with enormous

immaculate white teeth

Said Great wealth is yours

for an introductory fee

And then Mason blacked out.

Came to in a room.

A room with one barred window and

one flourescent lightbulb and one

thinly carpeted floor and,

it seemed,

no door.

With his blood pressure out of fear at 300/110

He yelled “Is there anyone here who can tell me where I am?”

And a voice on an intercom said “ccccsch

John George Psychiatric Pavillion, San Leandro”

Three weeks later Mason was discharged

With a prescription for Paxil, two legs and one arm

He was advised he’d been terminated from his post

And that his savings account now resembled a ghost

So was advised to file for California State Disability Insurance

He collected signatures

Filled out the forms

Detailing the failures that had cost him an arm

Two weeks later he called a toll-free number

To see where his check was

He couldn’t wait much longer

And an automated voice told him:

Please select your 48 digit PIN, which much consist of

Arabic numerals, Cyrillic letters, bird sounds, at least

Three varietes of orchid and your favorite James Cameron movie

(Hint: T2)

And be prepared to wait two to three lifetimes during peak calling hours

Which occur whenever the Earth’s gravity is in effect.

If you are expecting to speak to someone whose

Primary language is English,

Press Asemnatz

If you think the person you will eventually speak to is being

Paid a fair wage,

Press Nike

If you think this is ridiculous, please call your congressman

And if you think

We care

Please do fuck off.

Mason sat there stunned and pressed the pound key

The phone exploded

And then Mason couldn’t see

He felt his way to the community clinic to seek some aid

But the clinic had been closed by a budget cutting mandate

So he asked a passing meter maid for a ride back home

She said she couldn’t trust a man bleeding and alone

Then once more Mason fell to his knees and pled

With a man who once too had for inane reasons bled

To his death for crimes he did not commit

And for human failings hard to admit

And the man said Mason, my brother, I know you feel weak

And I know people told you I said to offer the other cheek

And I know you feel that you have no self-worth

And I know people told you I said the meek would inherit the Earth

But honestly Mason, those people were wrong

We’re all just making it up as we go along

-Landon Phillips, b.1981, for Mason Owl Pie, March 29, 2007 – June 27, 2007

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6 Responses to “Seventy-five”

  1. kaydee said

    Amazing! I love this poem!

    • ilbebe said

      Glad ya enjoyed it. You can read it out loud to Maggie even, the child-like cadence will hopefully keep her interested. Then years later, you can tell her you read her a friend’s poem about getting chewed up and spit out by the old mental health care system when she was one, and she’ll realize how truly unusual her mom is:)

  2. best thing you ever writted.

    • ilbebe said

      Wow, thanks man. You know, a memory that has come back to me now and again through the years is you, Ces, and I driving in the rain down I-5 and getting off at 45th/46th, en route to Taco Time. You asked me why I didn’t just start writing again, and I said “Well, fear of failure”. That was the first time I ever admitted that to myself, or anyone else, and getting beyond that moment is the new motivation inspiring the work. Then it’s funny finding these poems from five years ago that I never shared, and thinking “IDIOT!” Being able to share this shit now feels great.

      Thanks for commenting, it means a lot.

  3. Britney said

    This poem is so beautiful, Landon, really. Nice tie in with human experience. My friend Travis’ dog, Sonia, is being put down tomorrow and today was the first and last time I will ever meet her. She is a great dog, weak and old, but still a protector. It’s a hard loss, but I know we’ll all be fine in the end if we just have each other.

  4. This is a good poem.

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