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The stark fact is that I returned to America in key aspects the wreck of the strong and vibrant youth who'd left for Thailand one year ago. A Dr. Mohammed has clearly explained that this was due to the truly massive amounts of arsenic which I took in due to my sea-food heavy diet, especially the tuna-fish on Ko Tao. Frankly, the general chaos of the kingdom, and long afternoons drinking ice-cold Singha dragon beers(with a plate of limes) to relieve the extreme equatorial heat and the stressful monotony of our lives also contributed.
Returning home, I took a month to re-learn to walk. Regarding the composition of poetry, it was actually a prolific and successful month. I discovered Bob Dylan and immersed myself in the leftist politics of Mexico and South America. An impressive Mexican ex-governor nick-named 'the Garfish' was running for President against Calderon, I think, who was perceived to be something of an American puppet. I made contact with the campaign of 'the Gar-Fish,' gave a few pesos, and helped their cause a little through p.r. advocacy and exchange of ideas.
Following this, I moved to ivy-clad Montgomery Hall at Portland State University... where I'd been admitted to a Master's in Publishing program. It was a great joy and mistake of my life to spent most of this period of my life partying and using psychedelic and psychotropic drugs, drinking red wine with dear friends like Sultan Al Asharee from Saudi Arabia and Claire DeCock whose perfect grades in her Mathematics major never slipped though she sure could do damage to a bottle of Foxhorn red... Personally, I was going through the motions a bit, but not seriously studying, or even recovering my health... though I knew this was likely my last chance at the kind of high-brow career I'd been expected to have due to my impressive test scores and previous university scholarship.
It was hard to talk to my family. They could see what was happening and they didn't like it... from my rationalized perspective the Arsenic poisoning had caused severe damage and pain, and I was entitled to wine-filled afternoons to soothe that suffering and to compose and publish poetry, which was something I did continue to work at with some industry and art... also studying the theory of poetry from living professors and the book-bound ghosts of William Carlos Williams, Coleridge, Keats. My connection with the European-based online poetry communities, having really peaked while I was doing good work in Thailand, continued to be important and was supportive to me- as my once strong constitution now bent to the gravity of the metropolis, and fissures opened into my psyche- and the spirits of psychosis entered.
I had a nervous break-down.
So it was arranged that I enter what was by reputation and cost one of America's oldest and most respectable psychiatric institutions. Here I lived in a place called "Buckingham House..." There was plentiful staff, and we were all on diverse medications: some harsh or just strange... others like Ativan or Valium had more inspiring if in some sense sordid effects. We were a strange lot, and we ate very well: the most common meal was huge portions of perfectly prepared 'medium rare' steak.
My best friend here was a middle-aged man named Simon,a Jew who was politely but proudly aware of his culture and would only eat Kosher foods. He was a kind and beautiful soul living apart from but nonetheless wrapped in the warm love of his wealthy Jewish family... He also had his own unique intelligence and would tell me stories about the institution, as this was where he had had spent his entire adult life. My other friend, the cupid-burn of my youthful heart was Anna, the beautiful and debonair young daughter of a wealthy science fiction writer.
On Saturday mornings, we'd get coffee at Dunk'n Donuts and then play the board-game "Sorry" in the spacious game/dining room. Then the guys and I would go out and play basketball or football.... my physical strength had recovered somewhat, but by and large a severe nervous depression had seized control of my being... and it was a struggle just to perservere through this time.
During this time I also underwent some therapies- Freudian model psycho-analysis being the one that sticks out in my mind. Also, sometimes I would leave the posh environs of the campus into the overwhelmingly African-American neighborhoods around it.... and played a little basketball, or enjoyed a pastrami Sandwich at the corner store and deli with the ladies or young men who would congregate there.
This was the period when, inspired by Snyder of 'the Beat' literary movement, I first starting composing haiku sets... a practice which was to turn into perhaps the defining work of my life-time, and carry me through times of great pressure and disease. At the time, it seemed like nothing. This was to be the first of many institutional stays. "Oh, to leave the world unseen" - Keats