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Thursday
Nov262009

THE CIRCADIAN DEMENTIA OF THE HOMELESS MEN MY NEIGHBORHOOD


There are unhinged minds, coming from one direction specifically. And I hear them speaking to themselves every night as they pass along the west perimeter wall of 1610 North Gatewood Avenue.

Currently, I sleep in a tent, inside an ancient, decrepit, industrial building on the periphery of the worst slum in Oklahoma City. It is a large, empty hanger with four, thin garage doors. It is a variable ampitheater of a warehouse. And you can hear everything in there: the pitbulls, the addicts, the helicopters, the gunshots, the fights, the prostitutes, the gangs, the sirens, and perhaps the most disturbing of them all...
the men the courts have ruled "non compos mantis" or...

not of sound mind.

There are too many to count.

And their voices come in through the cracks, the boarded windows, and the gaping holes that pepper the rusted, metal roof above my bed.

Once these voices enter my building, they are amplified.
They eclipse all my distractions.
They riddle the metal and blur the concrete.
They carry jars of rusted bolts in their broken hands.
They smash beer bottles against the curbs and
they punch the solid brick walls with closed fists and ground teeth.
They want in.
And they want attention.

We keep a loaded gun nearby.
For there are nights when they whisper in my ear
while I am asleep.

I tell you, they can be unspeakably violent,
unflinchingly sad,
or worse...
show no vestige of emotion at all.

When the voices pass by my front door, I hear them twice.
They are captured by the directional microphones on
the security cameras mounted on the perimeter wall.
The voices then emerge, inside, on a pair of small monitor speakers along
with soft bursts of uncommon static, which sound akin to
the tearing of tissue paper or the brush of a corn husk.
It is an old system and the audio has a slight delay.
The result is such that
a horrendous echo of madness can be heard
between the live audio feed on the inside
and the actual world on the outside.

This is how the voices whisper into my ear every night.
They are a horrific yet beautiful cacophony of lost dreams
and discordant sounds.
Headless screams and static.
Mindless cursing and despair.
Everything doubled over into a repeating echo,
like a mirror gazing in upon itself
and casting aspersions onto each reflection.
These voices are the inner monologues of the schizophrenic
swinging desperately at unattainable peace,
lost among the dross,
unknowingly whispering
through the 3 inch speaker grill
of an old black and white television.

Each passing voice marks the
last remnants of a functioning mind.
The songs of failed bodies and failed lives.
The songs of humanity.
And although they fill my chambers each and every night,
and although I stand prepared to defend myself lest their
mental mutilations manifest themselves inside my home,
I will always fix my eyes on their actions with an almost childlike wonder,
as if I too may one day grow up to be
truly psychotic.

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