Poetry: Painted Sunrise by Alan ten-Hoeve
Daylight hurts my eyes
and nights are way too long.
Darkness presses in on all sides.
Clawed hands search for my throat.
I pass the hours with a lot of TV.
Just kinda stare at the screen,
not really seeing,
or remembering much of anything I watch.
Flickering images and sounds to distract the senses.
Keep the black thoughts at bay
for a little while.
Then the other night I saw this movie I haven’t been able to get out of my head.
An old black and white one about a guy who introduces himself as Dowd, Elwood P.
Dowd, Elwood P. hangs out with this 6 foot 3 and a half-inch-tall white rabbit named Harvey only he can see.
Dowd and Harvey spend their days cruising the bars.
Dowd is kind and engaging to all he meets.
Everyone likes him and tolerates his imaginary friend.
But when Dowd and Harvey interrupt his sister’s party she is ostracized by her bourgeois friends,
and attempts to have her brother committed to a sanitarium for his hallucinations.
The doctors track Dowd to his favorite watering hole.
They coax him to the sanitarium
but Dowd’s charm wins the doctors over.
He explains that Harvey has certain powers,
including the ability to stop time
and send someone to any destination they wish
for as long as they want.
And if they should choose to return to their current realm,
not a minute will have passed from when they left.
One of the doctors tells Dowd they have a serum that will stop him from seeing Harvey anymore.
Dowd agrees, if only to make his sister happy.
As they prepare the injection, Dowd’s sister arrives by taxi.
When she tries to pay the ornery driver she finds her money missing.
Dowd’s sister interrupts the procedure so he can settle the fare.
Calmed by Dowd’s innate kindness, the cabbie says he’s driven many people to the sanitarium for the same injection.
He warns they all become "a perfectly normal human being,
and you know what stinkers they are."
Hearing this, Dowd’s sister has a change of heart about her brother,
and puts a stop to the procedure.
The movie ends with Dowd, Harvey, and the sister as they walk down a dirt road
into a painted sunrise.
It looked so nice and comfortable.
Sometimes I think I’d like to crawl into my TV and live in Dowd’s world.
I would ask Harvey to stop time and it would last forever.
Other times I feel bitter
because it’s just a movie.
More divorced from reality than the character it portrays,
and I think
if only mental illness would be as kind
and cute to everyone
as it was for Dowd,
Alan ten-Hoeve wrote Notes from a Wood-Paneled Basement (Gob Pile Press) & Burn (KLR10 Malarkey Books).