I once wrote a poem, a
nd my best friend, he loved it.
It was called
“Manics Who Can’t Sleep.”
I performed it before
the death of my cousin.
We were at his friend’s garage
(his name was Trevor?)
We might have been drinking,
might have been not?
Was it winter?

I read the poem,
in a sing songy way.
This was in a galaxy
far far away.
I was new to the school.
I don’t know where I was.
I don’t know where we were.
I just remember the music.

My friend, he loved it
has it recorded somewhere.
My wife just told me
it’s 2:30 in the morning.
I said I know,
that this poem is for him,

He loved the way
the poem sounded.
I just loved him.
The way he spoke to me
without judgement,
spoke to me bright eyed,
with love.

We drank Pabst
till we threw up.
I remember it
’cause one of us
threw up in the tub.
another in the sink.

We lived in Salem then.
You have to remember the time.
He was the one friend
I could depend on.
I lost so many at the time.
I lost my mind at that time.
I had no friends.
I had some drugs, some left over weed.
I got a little dirtier indeed,
but with Andrew back then
there was music.

We drank and I loved it.
I was a kid,
buying Pabst Blue Ribbon
being kicked out of college,
living in some demented room.
I loved it.
I tried to get back
but the story goes
a little back before that.

I met Andrew outside
of Bates at Salem State
I went to meet this beautiful
Black girl named Candice,
Who I thought liked me.
I rang her door,
someone else answered,
said she was not there.
Message received.

I was drunk.
I saw him standing there.
He was with Sid Vicious Reliving.
Drunk and stumbling.
I met Andrew and we
struck up a friendship.

I had already
screwed up my life
on campus once before
Still a tale
I can’t really tell
but maybe should.
It was a mania,
they called it,
but to me,
it was so much more.
A beautiful moment
before it wasn’t.
And that’s all I will
say about that, will join with a
cartographer from the other side
to explore it.

But there was Andrew,
instant friend.
Brought me to the
Yellow House the next day,
a fraternity of punks, and outcasts.
Not a real fraternity.
In fact Salem State,
didn’t allow it.
He made music with me.
And how I loved playing with him.
He taught me Bright Eyes,
showed me the blues in Rolling Stones.
Cued me into the Damned.
The other day
I was hearing voices
at his party. We will get there,
but there is still more to tell.

Andrew, and I have been friends
since we both sobered up (mostly).
From where we were, to where we are now.
Andrew is a father of three,
and has been married to
two beautiful woman.
I’ve been married to a
beautiful loving woman too.

I brought Lisa to Andrew’s house
in 2004,
and she saw us fight drunk.
I put hot sauce on his pizza.
He punched me.
We were drunk.
My face turned red.

We were drinkers then.
The other day,
I pulled a knife
on him and his friends.

Now we are talking
for the first time since then.
I was scared, and unprepared,
had taken CBD with THC.
I still take CBD with THC,
but I take much less then I did.
He is concerned for me.

But our story, there is more.
Andrew was in my wedding.
I was in his as well.
I have always been a freak,
but with him, I wasn’t as much.
If we are going to be honest,
it has always been love.

Andrew made a mistake once,
and it messed up his Love.
I listened to him,
thought maybe too much,
maybe gave him bad advice?
Or too much advice.
His Love and him broke up.
I don’t know if it was
my fault or not.
That’s what I was thinking.
I felt that Andrew had hidden
resentment towards me.
And everyone was drinking.

I thought the party I went to
was going to be my last night.
That it was going to be a bad night.
And I wasn’t drinking. But others were.
And I wasn’t prepared for the night.

And now we will be speaking
for the first time since then.
I never even got to hear
Poe recite “The Raven”
Under the guise of absinthe.
But there is more to this story than that.

Andrew was the best friend I ever had.
Sometimes I’ve felt uneasy with him.
As if if he hated me or something
and just held it in.
I used to be afraid when he called,
that something bad was going to happen.
If Doomsday was 12:29,
Andrew would make it 12:30.

And when that started happening,
I was in my house in Somerville.
I called him high. I was playing.
I think I wanted him to hear a song.
He said something cryptic,
like We all don’t live that long.

So I always have felt
a little uneasy,
like he would be the death of me.
That might be paranoia, might be reality.
Might be CBD, mixed with a little THC.
Might have been the steady car ride,
and then the messed up party.
Might have been his friends
who I thought would sacrifice me.
Joe and Joey, with the top hats.
It was probably an awesome party.
The girl dressed plainly,
others dressed steam punk.
And maybe just me on CBD
while others would slowly get drunk.
Maybe it was the roast beef dinner,
because we were kind of role playing.
Maybe it was the Philip Glass music.
Maybe it was because I misinterpreted
what others were saying.
I was hearing voices.
I didn’t feel very safe.
Thought it was going to be a very bad day.

I didn’t know if I trusted his wife,
his new one, thought his friend
might have a gun. But that’s the thing.
I realize lately I trust no one.
And Mary is a good woman,
and the alleged man with-gun was just John.
And I might have been excited
to see two rockstars in my eyes.
Reunite maybe? Play music that night?
But roast beef is a choking hazard,
and steak knifes are scary
when you don’t know anyone at a party
that’s supposed to be scary.

But that’s the thing.
Andrew is like that.
Not dangerous. Just like that.
He will play his own music
and is good at what he does.
And it wasn’t him at all.
It was me. Because I don’t trust.

I realize I am in DRA,
and that means I speak my truth.
I don’t hold back, and I will not lie to you.
And I had something to hold in.
And I have a 501st poem.
And since you have already
gone home to sleep,
I am free to roam with my words,
before foundation becomes a thing.
This is the mind. I’m a writer
and a musician.
So I guess I let people in.

So in a perfect world
I would have understood.
But it wasn’t the first time
I had to leave his house either.
Plus I had missed his wedding.
My wife and I were having Emerson.

But now it is now a little after 3 am.
Still can’t sleep like I did back then.
Now I can take Haldol,
but I try and fight it.
I had a urge to write this poem, so I did.
Probably catch some shit,
when I should just take melatonin.

But manics Who can’t sleep sometimes get hauled in.

Andrew is going to talk to me
in the morning.
I won’t read this to him.
But I love him, always have, always will.
Doubt his intent was to kill.

And that’s because I trusted voices,
which you never should.
But that’s a defense mechanism
I guess.

So I yelled at them all,
said the party was fucked up,
that I felt unsafe.
I gripped my steak knife,
said No one is going to hurt me right?
I just want to play some music!

Andrew did the right thing.
He took the knife from me,
and instead of calling the police.
He called Lisa, and Konrad took me home.
And I took a Haldol and went to sleep.

Manics who can’t sleep sometimes take the hint.


Jason Wright is the editor and founder of Oddball Magazine. His column appears weekly. His third book, Train of Thought 2: Almost Home is available now at the Oddball Book Store.