His Familiar’s Back In Town

There’s a moment when the sinking feeling comes down close and quick,
when those little white lies we tell ourselves all come home to roost;
the withdrawn measure of the eye’s appraisal, an uncanny ruse –
the gnawing sensation that the earth has turned to stone in Autumn’s rust.

His unwanted guest is back in town, that unhappy clown,
the one we love to hate, his dark and moody – familiar;
he waltzes in like he owns the place, this melancholy prince of lies
who leaves us empty and depressed, lost in this unsavory weather.

You’ll sit there like a dullard, blank and unfeeling,
people yapping all around, laughing and reeling;
while you try to listen it all falls apart, the blaggard night,
and all you can do is absolutely nothing, but nothing.

I could feel him in the shadows, my familiar,
somewhere close by pervading everything,  a spoor;
that trollish piece of shite haunted me for years,
and no gray haired doctor’s ever rid me of this boor.

Sometimes I think I’m cursed, a modern Cain in disguise,
a roaming devil in the world, a zombie in a goblin’s mask;
they tell me it’s a rare disorder, a surreal task,
a defect in the brain’s dark chemistry misfiring – kerplunk, kerplunk.

I’m a guinea pig for punishment and all those blasted pills,
they’ve tried a hundred remedies like old wife’s tales;
one day I’m fine, jubilant and free, a man above the clouds,
the next I’m in the slime, a brother of grunge and cesspool pails.

At night I’ll sleep two hours or three, stare at the ceiling after
like a seaboy on a mission counting jaguars in his wakeful jungle;
most times the movement from my bed to the kitchen
is a walk through an Inferno haunted by my demented Virgil.

Like any episode it too will pass, just a soap opera sigh
for the neighbors and the bosses, a sad melodrama for my family;
no need for Inquisitors, the torture drones have found their target,
and, I, the desert solitaire am in the middle of its bullseye.

Should all else fail I have my trusty peace – a blue metaled 45.
sitting there like a clicking bomb from our nightly battles;
the roulette wheel is too easy though, and silver ore
keeps busting out of my brainpan like freedom’s awful roar.

So it goes on from day to day, this age old tale of woes:
my familiar and I just jousting in some festival of sewers;
like Batman and the Joker we wait here in the darkness,
knowing that at best there can be no truce only never-ending farce.

So the next time that familiar comes a visiting you,
tell him you’ve a message from the dead man on the loose:
“I’m coming to get him bye and bye, I’ve got a big old noose
for that lousy demon and his dark and wily guests.”

Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Note: for anyone out there who has suffered through depression, or is suffering now, I know it can be like death itself warmed over. Been reading Jeffery Smith’s Where the Roots Reach for Water an exploration of his own desperate fight against depression and a natural history of that disease. I’ve had family that went through this process, so know from experience not as one who has suffered it himself, but as a helpmate to those that did. It’s truly one of those terrible disorders that hopefully someday as neurosciences improve will discover the actual mechanism and triggers that cause it, and thereby help find a cure of its dire affects and effects.

Of course the notion of a familiar spirit is one long known in folklore motifs, and here I internalize it even I as I objectify it as the strangeness of the melancholic artist and individual. The sciences obviously give us all the data regarding it but have yet to really understand and be able to treat it. None of the pharmaceuticals have lasting effects from what you discover reading the literature. It’s always fun to read some of the old works like Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy which are more like encyclopedias of  books and echoes of books, in which he cites thousands of authors that have for the most part been lost in the annals of time and history.

4 thoughts on “His Familiar’s Back In Town

    • You like the change! Yea, got tired of the drab grays… wanted some fire in the bucket! Pull up a chair, stay a while, read a poem or two… might link to poets rather than strange fictions though unless that’s your cup of tea 🙂


      • Yea, I figured with you coming down the pragmatist pipeline it would all be good… yea, I’ll be adding in short stories, and poetic essays down the pipe as well… I think I’ve a lot of digging down into certain philosophers and the neurosciences again before I do any of philosophical essays. Even rereading my Whitman, Emerson, Dickinson, Frost, Stevens, Hart Crane, on up the gamut … and my regionalists in the south Faulkner, O’Connor, McCullers, Crews, on down to us as well… kind of tired of the accelerationist circle: it’s not going anywhere and seems more about young philosophers vying for a place in the sun of philosophy than about true change.


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