Like a booster detached from a shuttle, my body
Ended up in an ocean while fog enshrouded my mind.
Xanax never made me feel that unsteady; it just didn’t
Agree with Lamictal. I was glad my wife could cease
Preparing herself mentally before coming home; I’d been a
Rakshasa for months & appeared to be normal
Overnight, but the low dose made me immune to emotion.
Listening to my psychiatrist rattle off
A litany of side effects, from painful sores on
My mouth to life-threatening rashes,
I wasn’t fazed by the risks. Any pill that
Could disperse gray clouds to reveal the sky’s neon-
Tinted hue like the boutique hotel on Collins
Avenue where my wife & I devoured
Loaded fries & Cuban sandwiches was a win.
When I jolted out of bed from a nightmare that had
Ended with my wife cheating on me with a divorce
Lawyer, I called her at work. She left her residents &
Let my psychiatrist know of my symptoms.
Braced herself before hearing the word paranoia. With
Utmost devotion, I offered Kamadeva mango blossoms
To replace dejection & spending sprees with fiery
Red desire because no matter how hard I focused I couldn’t cum.
In confidence, my wife could spend her entire life,
No lie, without sex as long as I resemble the man she loves.
The type of sleep I got buried me. After I’d
Risen from the dead, Diwali was over:
All the fireworks, the pujas, the music, I’d
Zoned out through everything. Dr. Tariq, he weaned me
Off the drug before it induced mania. I wanted to be
Done with medication. Tired of being a shell
Of my former self who embraced constant joy over
Numbness, beauty over logic as when the
Even crack in my mirror stretched & yawned.
Zigzagging through time, my moods were unpredictable.
One hour I laughed during a water gun fight.
Later, I berated my sons for singing
Off-key. With sertraline on the sidelines, I protested
For everyone with a chemical imbalance &
Threatened to hold taboo hostage in exchange for a baseline.
The only person in the rows was me. My leg kept shaking
Right after the endless trailers for big budget
Indian films that depicted inter-caste love as a reality.
Near the beginning of Jugjugg Jeeyo, when
The main characters contemplated divorce, your boy
Exited the theater after pacing back & forth.
Literally between the aisles. Beyond our
Love, our sons, our vows, nothing else
Indicated why my wife & I have stayed solid. Maybe we’re
Xenoliths or lava stones that’re durable like guilt?
Jonathan Moody, author of Olympic Butter Gold (winner of the 2014 Cave Canem / Northwestern University Press Prize), has poetry that’s appeared in Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, and other journals and anthologies. Moody teaches English at South Houston High School and lives in Pearland, Texas, with his wife and three sons.