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Neil Hilborn, performing at the 2013 National Poetry Slam in Cambridge, MA.
TEXT OF POEM:
The worst thing about being naked—and then
being hit by a car—is that road rash
is a problem for skin. Why was I naked
in the middle of the road at noon? I am glad
you asked, imaginary other half of this
conversation! I have no idea! Some characteristics
of bipolar disorder include dissociation, hallucinations,
and fugue states, so sometimes I wake up in places
I didn't go to sleep!
So. There I am. Nude. Splayed out on a car like a slutty
chicken, and I'm screaming about the government
conspiracy to take away my feet. Not my real feet.
Just my brain feet. I'm about six inches away
from the concrete when I realize, in slow motion,
like the exact opposite of a rhinoceros attack,
"This is not how I imagined my life would turn out." When I was young, I broke
both my ankles jumping off a roof because
I was sure a cape would enable me to fly. My parents
attributed this to my strong imagination. Last year,
my therapist called it a delusion. I fail
to see the difference. Also, I really can fly
and see the future and make stupid people leave
coffee shops with my mind. Forty-three percent of the time.
Sometimes I see people as colors. For instance, this guy
right here is purple, which means he just got a promotion.
Or a blowjob. A blowmotion, if you will. The point is,
here is a list of things my brain has told me
to do: join a cult; start a cult; become a cabinet maker;
kill myself, so, in essence, become a cabinet maker;
break into, and then paint, other people's houses; have sex
with literally everyone who reminds me of my mother;
fight people who are much fightier than me, like
the cops, so, in essence, kill myself. I think a lot
about killing myself, not like a point on a map but rather
like a glowing exit sign at a show that's never been
quite bad enough to make me want to leave. See, when I'm up
I don't kill myself because, holy shit, there's so much left
to do! When I'm down I don't kill myself because then
the sadness would be over, and the sadness is my old paint
under the new. The sadness is the house fire or the broken
shoulder: I'd still be me without it but I'd be so boring.
They keep telling me seeing things that aren't technically there
is called "disturbed cognitive functioning." I call it
"having a superpower." Once, I pulled over on the 110 freeway
and jumped out of my old Jeep because I saw it burst
into flames twenty seconds before it actually burst
into flames. I knew my girlfriend and I would be
together because she turned bright pink the first time
she saw me. I know tomorrow is going to come
because I've seen it. Sunrise is going to come,
all you have to do is wake up. The future has been
at war, but it's coming home so soon. The future
looks like a child in a cape. The future is the map
and the treasure. The future looks just like gravity:
everyone is slowly drifting toward everyone else.
We are all going to be part of each other
one day. The future is a blue sky and a full
tank of gas. I saw the future, I did,
and in it I was alive.
mission accomplished. it's admirable mate
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