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Troubadour Creative | zombie

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zombie

zombie

My mind is a strange and deeply mysterious place. I’m not sure I can accurately explain why certain things catch my attention and demand to be crafted into prose/poetry. Sometimes I am working through some emotional issues that find some degree of relief or validation when turned into something else. Or perhaps when spelunking through my thoughts a formerly submerged memory presents itself and inspires retelling through a different lens. Other times I am purely struck by an image or phrase; that once imbedded in my mind, rattles around until there is enough connective tissue around it to become something worth articulating. This is maybe the root of all creativity – to not question anything – but to just keep going until the elusive “it” presents itself. When it does happen, it sort of bewitches you for a period of time, always there in the back of your mind until you have expelled it in a format you can be remotely satisfied with. I try not to overthink it, forcing myself to stay open creatively and write when the inspiration is there, without knowing where it is going, and in spite of the seemingly odd cocktail of images and influences that bubble up.

Speaking of cocktails, I recently finished reading Entangled Life, a pretty cool book from an author with the fabulous name of Merlin Sheldrake. It is a book about the diverse kingdom of organisms that support and sustain nearly all living systems – fungi. For me it was the visual/biological metaphor of everything being connected that had me hooked. In the book you learn about the “zombie fungus” Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, that essentially exudes a sort of chemical mind control over carpenter ants, intoxicating and drawing them in and then making them stick to the plant, digesting their bodies and sprouting stalks out of their heads from which spores shower down on other unsuspecting ants passing by. Quite a neat trick really. So, this chilling visual of being powerless to resist somehow made my mind jump to A Clockwork Orange in which Alex, a famously immoral, ultra-violent and thoroughly horrible teenager gets caught by the police and gets brainwashed by the Ludovico Technique, a kind of aversion therapy in which his eyes are held open against his will and he’s forced to watch horrifically violent images which make him feel physically sick and in pain. Kind of an extreme version of your parents making you smoke the whole pack of cigarettes until you puked when they caught you smoking. Earlier in the book/film Alex and his Droogs (his friends) get “sharpened up” to commit their crimes by drinking Korova Plus (essentially milk with drugs added in) at the Milk Bar, which also reminded me of a form of mind control that starts out being about seeking pleasure but essentially traps you; always chasing the “high” of that first hit – whether it’s narcotics, food, attention … or love.

I share all this to help illuminate the poem below. I don’t normally want my work to be so explained, I would rather people bring their own interpretations based on their uniquely individual lives and experiences – of course that questioning being what any kind of creative art aspires to provoke. But in this case, it seemed somewhat interesting to offer up the raw ingredients that resulted in the piece below.

Ophiocordyceps

Oh bliss, bliss and heaven …
Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh

I am pinned
Helpless to look away
Only myself to blame
Pulsing with Korova Plus
Giving me a right case of the wobby knobbies
The milky nectar has trapped me
Opaque. Omnipotent. Ophiocordyceps.

I am unsated
Gorging on the main vein
So close to the summit
Yet forever sidelined
By a branch growing through my brain
It reaches for the sun
As I once reached

I am but a host
Transformation fuel for another
Mycelial tendrils encircle
All grass is flesh after all
Who am I to renegotiate
Forever choking
On the catch in the throat

I am good
But my goodness is involuntary
Deprived of choice
I am conditioned to comply
What once brought surges of joy
Now only brings pain
I was cured all right