by K.C. Collins

“We don’t call it manic depression anymore,”
he told my mother in sales-pitch tones,
“It’s bipolar disorder.”
A polite way to say
I swing from the treetops and
wallow in the mud.
Last week I slew 1,036 dragons
(some of them co-workers,
some merely bystanders)
and their lives ran down the blood-groove
of my sword.

They were righteous murders,
full of honor
and justice
with enough meat to feed my clan
the whole winter
and all the starving children in China
with no meat to go with their tea.
How much does it cost today?

Well, no one minded when I
suffocated myself in the sludgy marsh
drowning my spirit in bracken water…
but pull out a blade or burst into song,
and suddenly
the alarms sound
and the torches and pitchforks come out…
lesser demons in white coats,
sheep in wolves’ clothing.

They do not fight fair.
On a better day I could beat you
with both hands tied behind my back
as they are now.
Their commander is a fine young man
who has not seen many battles
and doesn’t understand allegory or metaphor
in the common tongue.
He speaks of a potion to take the
curves out of the road,
overlooking the fact that I am
a mountain goat.
I know these foul philters
that take the shine off my sword,
and I would rather spend years commuting
between Dante’s inferno and Milton’s paradise
than to dwell in a lithium purgatory.
tomorrow I have plans to embark upon a tour
of Antarctica and Zaire
with no stops planned in Austria
before I go hiking in the Himalayas.
Would you care to join me?

© Copyright 2002 by K.C. Collins. Republished 2003, 2004, 2011, 2014.

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