Saturday, July 26, 2014



“When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” – Walt Whitman 

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, 
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.


7/ 23 / 14

I’m going to change the line-up for a while.  I've been revising, cataloging and generally rooting around in my poems over the last several months; I've set aside ones that might suit this journal and turned-up a few and so I’ve decided to start sharing them sporadically and briefly mentioning their place in my world. It should probably be noted that all of these were written before the GBM set-in -- all old ones hopefully not fulfilling their own prophecies.


My first and beardiest and most beloved philosophy professor not only succeeded in swiveling my head around and around -- stopping at intervals on, say, my naivety, my illogic, my stable of misbegotten notions; he saved me from a void cosmos by connecting the dots between Aldebaran and the Hyades, bridging the gap between Cassiopeia and Canis Major -- see stars, see stars run.

See my adviser at new school, inquire after seats in the astronomy class -- see hydrogen, see hydrogen fuse.

With continuing pleasure, I took the next level; with diminishing pleasure, I took the next-level astronomy tests -- see physics, see it call my bluff.

I graduated with a degree in Philosophy (minor English) the diploma for which abides dustily alongside a diploma I earned with a degree in English (minor Philosophy). In other words, I’ve read Plato’s Republic four times.

I carried on my life’s impecunious way picking-up micro-nuggets of knowledge and developing half-formed solutions to the recondite. I carried on, trying to unlearn order --and chaos, for that matter. I carried on snipping ballast sacks -- so beige and burlap -- from my hot air balloon -- so colorful and plump.

And back, naked-eye descrying the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades.

And on, pecking-out poems and stories that were not as magnificent as I thought them to be or as
lackluster as I swore they were.

And back:  Six degrees of Francis Bacon; Jane Eyre vs. Wuthering Heights for all the Bronte marbles; Kant, Hume, Hegel -- oh my; Marlowe, Jonson, Shakespeare -- oh, snap.

And on and on, all the way here . . .


At thirty-seven, memory
Stripped to bare skin—a consequence
Of medicine and the sickness
Itself—I wish I could recall
The Milky Way without planet,
Constellation, or Cynosure.

As when on drives to Knoxville
From Bland, the anonymous stars
Would scale up the sky, as slow as
The hours, as the lollygag miles
To the never nearing coal-stack
               Of the Smokeys.

At thirty-seven, the shapeless
Clusters and random amble
         Are gone; and my wish, more
Than a brain without panicked cramps
Or tumor, is to have my catalog cleared
Of Messier, mythology,
And hydrogen fusion;

                                   I’d like
To press my face to the cold glass
And see in Leo’s place a velvet cloak
Pricked-through with the pins of God’s

Own angels, embroidering
A miracle of sorts having
Nothing to do with light years—
A consequence of nothing known.

And nearly there  (as below) . . .

The Upshot of My Sciences

When I go loam,
I hope to meet
A maple leaf
To hold my hand.

When I go worm,
I hope to find
A sopping earth
To take me in.

When I go kale,
I hope to grow
A purple furl
To greet you with.

When I go cloud,
I hope to blot
A zenith sun
To stake my claim.

When I go sea,
I hope to crest
A toppling swell
To thank the moon.

When I go oak,
I hope to have
A maple tree
To neighbor with.


I don’t think any of this – the versification nor the commentary – represent a terminal condition of my heart; more than likely, they represent a careful consideration of my life without either, and why or whether whimsy seems to have edged-out the awe owed the unadorned beauty of reality.

I can tell you this, I believe there is some correlation between what seems to be a slippage in my fascination with the empirical and the dunderheadedness accreted during times of my infatuation with the so-called sublime.

Beyond that, I can suggest that the continual struggle in my brain is a notable factor in my increasing dunderheadedness. In other words, I got dumb. Not necessarily as a result of constantly conflicting ideals, but as a coincidence of  bodily corrosion and the vicissitudes of fortune.  I got dumb. Mute and dull. It’s hard to dodge the spitballs of an indifferent goddess while timing deflections of astral bowling balls -- aflame and careering.  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

pain and hallucination

Pain and Hallucination

7/ 9/ 24

Right now, rather, right then, a moment ago, I was staring mindlessly at picture frame wall hook and had been for at least fifteen  seconds. It may not sound like a lot of time but it is a lot just to be fixed on a picture frame hook, and fifteen on a doorknob here and thirty on what I've  just written which in itself took every second of  five minutes . . .now hooks, now the knob, and for just this last little bit . . . that ellipsis. This is no namby pamby stare, here. It's electromagnetic. Once latched . . . attached, until someone cuts the power by some stronger distraction and then I'd be released to redirect my magnificent stare -- just then on my rapidly cooling mug of coffee. At this moment, I'm letting it languish at room-temperature.

When I'm not stuck, odds are, I'm unglued. I can't latch on to anything. My thoughts or those of others. The written word or the words I'm writing. You can imagine why this would stir the stew out of me. The prospect of walking  becomes more daunting when I'm unglued; each step is crucial to the overall endeavor; each step is one nearer the master plan, which includes arriving in full bipedal triumph at the refrigerator eight feet away. I stumbled four feet shy of the fridge and fell to the floor. Contributing factors . . . I was doing dishes, as is my wont, and being unglued at time, (one must be able to ambulate and navigate simultaneously), I let slip the necessary focus for a physically and mentally handicapped person, or to keep it politically correct --  a double-dip crip  (if you've taken offense, you might want consult your physician, it could be that you are a triple cripple). Two more factors contributing to my stumble and ultimate collision with the refrigerator: the transition from unglued to stuck again can happen in the time it takes to reach for a Mac &  Cheez pan and notice a dish of brownies a mere stack of dinner plates away. I like doing dishes. I looooove eating brownies. I reached, placed my non-reaching palm on the the slick stone for balance . . . Ha! Well-played, Jonathan. Final factor that I will bother mentioning . . .  I stumbled four feet away. I am six feet tall. 

If no harm , no foul . . . I call foul.  

7/ 11/ 14

If no foul . . . allow this faint complaint  . . . Ow! Ow! Ooh John Jacob Jingleheimer! Ow! Fouls notwithstanding, I call harm.  To tune of a compression fracture of lumbar number one.This fall was from the other side of the same counter (different day). One and eighty  pounds from five feet up . . . J.J.J  Schmidt! 

Insult to injury [1] no sooner had I begun my writhe-about, lowing like  a woeful cow spectacle than a picture frame (second frame dismantled in as many weeks) fell onto my head. Insult to injury [2] no sooner had the paramedics reached me, I became aware that I was still in my ratty pajamas -- one of the EMTs gave me the heads-up on the relative brightness of the cool kitchen, where I had been, and the blazing blue sky inhabited solely by the sun at zenith, where I was quickly being hustled.

The difference was truly astonishing. 

7/ 15/ 14

I have portable fan that sits on my bedside table that does not oscillate that oscillates.

I have a cat that won't sit still, in fact, she hasn't since she first showed-up; I'd give her a name, if she'd just sit still. Probably Snowball if she was black.

There's a man in the yard who is too small be homo-sapiens but far too huge to be one of my periphery faeries.

Bathroom tiles scootch slowly towards me. 

Bricks jut and retreat, jut and retreat like insane piano keys considering a not-nice joint jettison.

Cracks  in sidewalks move slowly away. 

Two women on my wall are artwork. Corrine's hair is made of hectic magenta butterflies. Her head rests on a pale forearm, the forearm is perfectly still and given to movement. Just a slight raise at the elbow.

Edna is on a bench under a dark sky in a white dress considering the skull on her lap. Once in a while she rises to walk to a shore she nor I can see. We see a storm on our left. Once in a while it pauses mid-swirl.

The periphery faeries don't like being seen straight on; they dispatch many mini-sprites to inflict harm on my person while I sleep; I wake to find unwarranted bruises, inexplicable rashes, and itchy scratches on my belly.

Humming birds with a magnificence of color beneath their blur, rare sights in the first place, most fabulous of hallucinations,dart-flit-vanish, flit-dart-vanish. A few days ago, during a quadruple- check, one hovered for me. A humming bird!

I'm an inveterate quadruple-checker. If unglued, I can go as high eight checking on a Great Dane
soliloquizing from and on a stump.

After all, I would've hated to miss . . . 

Jacob Marley's scornful face out of switch plates.

Obi Wan's robe collapsing, bodiless. 

 Cujo at my passenger window, not slavering yet but working-up some foam.

Ascensions of Christ into sun-punched cumuli.  

7/ 20/ 14

[Last week I promised poem incorporating multiple uses of a single line; I offer it here knowledgeable of its altered form from the one I hastily promised; accept this untitled villanelle.  It suits.]

The good news is the bad news verbatim
There be lizardy dragons around these parts.
The dragon was a worm until you slayed him.

Like, love, or absolutely hate him, 
You must admire his work in the jading arts.
The good news is the bad news verbatim.

We were famished so we skinned and ate him.
We were lonely so we opened our hearts.
The dragon was worm until you slayed him --

A snaky lizard peddling original sin
Through tinsel and popcorn -- vouchsafing smarts.
The good news is the bad news verbatim.

A crawler, a wriggler, then you obeyed him, 
Now he's leviathan chum taunting sharks.
The dragon was a worm until you slayed him -- 

A dragony ass straining with floating carts 
Accepting applause despite obvious false starts.
The good news is the bad news verbatim -- 
The dragon just a worm until you slayed him.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

arjuna and the specter of isaac

Arjuna and the Specter Isaac 

6/ 30/ 14

The good news is the bad news verbatim. If I still had any Eastern philosophy left me, I'd run that line by the Bhagavad Gita, any Western and I'd see what I could see in the way of Kierkegaard. If was any sort of poet, I'd've long since ditched this rather starving introduction to start composing poems which experiment with that line as the first, writing a new first line, then using the first first line as the second line, and so on . . . second to third, third to fourth and so on until the poem (tentatively titled "Arjuna and the Specter of Isaac") is perfect. Oh, don't you worry, it will happen, the first line is already the 18th line in my head.

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Trust me, this is not a trick question or covert personality test.

Heads up, pencils down.

If you chose "good news first" you are an optimist, confident that good news will trump the bad news by a large enough margin to take it too badly anyway. Also, you are a pessimist, worried that the "bad news", if left to its own devices while the good news is being aired, will stir up more trouble than the good news is worth.

Heads up, seven up. (Irrelevant but fun to remember the carefree days.)

If you chose at all, you chose superfluously, since the bad news is the good news verbatim; and you will soon make a note not to trust me, at least not when the concern is trick questions; and now that you know trusting in me is ill-advised, I might as well reveal the results of this covert personality test on Facebook.  (Stay tuned for my immediate public apology on Twitter and it's recapitulation on all major news outlets like CNN, your aunt Dale, Facebook, and Twitter.)

The news is as follows and as follows: I have taken my last round of chemotherapy. I have taken my last round of chemotherapy. I don't have to choke-back pernicious, rattling, gargantupills anymore. By the identical token, they won't let me choke-back pernicious, rattling, tumor-corroding pills anymore.

There is limit to how much poison the body can take and all the tumors have to is do exceed that limit for a while -- a tug-of-war the body rarely wins. The body sports abrasion-prone palms, tumors wear cleats. Tumors are anchored by Fezzik, the body is anchored by your aunt Dale.

Heads down.


It's all in my head. True—at least mostly.

If I've heard it once I've heard it a good few times . . . my tumors; the scrumptiousness of oysters; the importance of being earnest, etc; and there is the way in which "it" is "all" in each of your heads too . . . nascent tumors; the disgustingness of oysters; importance of being quippy.

What has been in my head recently has been, in fact, my tumors. Not the nascent ones but the
current tenants.  Real deals that exist in real space that happen to be confined to the same real small place. Spaces and places inside my cranium, situated as comfortably as I can manage, in my right
parietal lobe, a few dim stars (that's how I think of the new ones as they appear in the MRI images) cropping-up in gadolinium dye and ostensibly headed toward the temporal lobes and, due to malignancy, threatening further encroachment.

And then there's Pops. Riding high near the primary motor cortex where the doing of things gets done. Which is why so many things of don't get done. Pops the progenitor, original space-hog.

And I feel its presence.  I've seen its picture many, many times. I've studied its biology and its biography. But not only do I know of it, I can attest to its existence as a tangible occupier of my noodle. And so too with new ones, but less concretely. I don't know them well but I'm figuring them out.

I can hear learned protest . . .  "This notion is psychosomatic through and through. He has headaches that he thinks he can specifically locate geographically and define topographically. He has phantom sensations, ones he thinks he should be able to feel, as if from the outside in."

Yes, as if that way. And as if from the inside out. And as if from the inside in.  Call it delusion, imagination, or the eternal Lite-Brite of a buck- shot mind.

I call it apperception, introspection, and concentration . . . I'll take imagination, too. From where else could I extract the  germs of creativity if not from its Petris dish in my head?

Yet, I feel I’m doing poorly with my explanation of this phenomenon. I'll attribute this to its oddity. It’s not a workaday  topic; to speak of it is to ask the listener/ reader to rustle-up some cognitive vittles probably not ready at hand. Sometimes me and the listener/ reader connect, sometimes we don't.

Perhaps to confuse us all further, I’ve inserted an excerpt from short-story ("Waiting"), in which the  main character relates his experience with this odd but real case:

I have heard about silence that screams but this is new—the confusion in cacophony, the exclamations, the top-pitched frustration  is so noisome and unconnected that I hear nothing.  I retreat into my right-parietal.  My tumor is in here with me.  I am used to feeling it from a distance—from my other lobes but now I have joined it.  I am inside the absence.  Because that’s what brain tumors are.  Physiologically, they are growths, cystic and tangible; but the real space they delineate is filled with nothing or, at best, a vague notion of something missing.  Like the subconscious knowledge of the unpacked meds sitting on your nightstand as you grind farther and farther away down the interstate.  Like the empty pit in your guts, so dull and distant, that prophesies an impending appendicitis.

 In here, perceptions are dull.  The outside world moves slowly as in a dream.  And the dream is pointless.  You in a chef’s hat making mud-pies; you in a cloud and becoming rain.  Dull and pointless but perfect for keeping the sharper perceptions at bay—those terrors of a brain in full synaptic barrage.  From here, through the glial-veneer, the waiting room is in a light fog on a placid lake as seen through the wrong end of binoculars.  The fish are glugging through arms of light   Sounds are subdued.  Like a silenced pistol going thwup, like a muted guitar string going pung, so are the voices and actions of the outside, public space . . .

   Andrew,  dying quicker than the rest of us, , is tidying the waiting room.  As if compelled by a mission, he moves from table to table making neat stacks of the magazines.  He stands behind the several empty chairs and aligns them just so.  He looks like a golfer lining up a putt.  Or an unlikely feng shui master .  His ring glints in the fluorescent light.  I have never seen him so vital, so purposeful.  Something in the anomaly feels right—like his is the correct universe, a truly unparalleled universe, and that it’s safe to leave my brain.  He draws me out . . .

To find out what transpired before our hero retired into his cranium or to find out what transpires next:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

hold the door mr. phillipshead

Hold the Door Mr. Phillipshead

6/ 27/ 14

I have been moved to the head of my class. Not for embodying scholarship or to exhibit proper conduct for the edification of my peers. I have been moved to the head of the class so I don't lose sight of the teacher or lose touch with the lecture; I have been moved so I can make it through lunch before logging-out for the day and hopefully soon to make it clear to dinner without kaputzing completely.

"Attention, class. I am moving Jona . . . Jocelyn Quinn, send one more text and I swear that thing's mine . . . I am moving Jonathan . . . what do you mean which Jonathan? . . . you know as well as I do that that Jonathan has been relocated for exhibiting improper conduct . . . Class, just shut up! Shut your lips and listen, Jonathan . . . this Jonathan . . . I'll tell you what, Mr. Phillipshead, why don't you go impress Mrs. Boysenberry with your little routine . . . now, if everyone is ready . . .  Mr. Scott is coming up here.

He hasn't done anything wrong, he just needs a little . . . Jocelyn Quinn! Put it. . . put it right here in my hand . . . what do you mean put what? . . . hold the door Mr. Phillipshead . . . "

They've put me on Ritalin. I went to the doctor on Monday to have some blood drawn and give a urine sample; they got all the blood they could hope for and could've hoped more; what they did not get was the memo.

Re:  FYI Jonathan H Scott DOB 12-14-75, cannot pee on demand, not one drop.

Readers, F-your-I, they don't really need your urine so much as they would appreciate it; besides, they give credit for effort -- especially on pop-quizzes.

Anyway . . . Ritalin. They've added Ritalin to my pharmaceutical cornucopia, my horn of that's a'plenty, thanks. In the doc's office I wasn't grasping just why, for all I know, they just wanted to put a cork in my cask of complaints; it seemed counter intuitive for all I knew . . .
about . . . about . . .

Ritalin. Right! For 1, I have a hard time staying focused in the morning when I do most of my "work". And B of all, I have a hard time concentrating on the task at hand when there's another task tomorrow and the one I just forgot. For 3, I have a hard time sleeping at night -- all the thoughts . . . glioblastoma, eggs for breakfast, fried no scrambled no a banana, what for tomorrow's journal? urine sample indeed! Missed the memo, memorandum remember random, scrambled no randomized eggs, but fried, over medium no easy, just take 'er easy man, like Sunday mawnin', ooh I said eeezay, eassah like Sunday mawnin’ you should go to church, yeah and wear your purple suit, purple, two nude Ps reposing on an ur carpet . . . probably needing

. . . to pee. Great! Juhhst great! Yogurt, was it?

They put me on Ritalin. I'll give it  a go. Another pill for my AM case. What could it hurt that ain't already? My liver? The likelihood of operating heavy machinery? Besides, it's in the cards, a done deal from when deals like this were done. Spectacular. Oracular. The pills are purple.


[Here is a poem I wrote over 7000 pills ago.]

An epitome of the false
Dichotomy: blessing or curse,
For good or for ill—
My anxiety and its pharmacy
Of combatants.

On one hand are the tunnel walls
Withstanding the terrific
Sea, the sand, and careless whales;
On another are the bland
Visions of a dimwit.

The crystal in the window,
Once prismatic and slinging
Spectra the whole kitchen over--
Now mud-washed, flings ho-hum
Shadows on sheet-rock.