Monday, September 18, 2017

How I Know

Mrs. Capgras isn't Mrs. Capgras.
Whoever she really is, she's very clever, right down to 
parading around the neigborhood with the young Capgras children.
I confronted her.
"You can't fool me," I said, 
and the nerve of her,
the brass, 
she wouldn't drop the pretense.
Pretty soon the children were crying and she and I were 
clutching and kicking
biting and screaming
right there at the entrance to the park. 

The police were called, of course.
Idiot neighbors,
credulous biddies,
believed her that she was Mrs. Capgras.
Off she went, pretending upset,
gushing crocodile tears as she herded those kids back up the street.
She--whoever she was--kept looking back over her shoulder 
with her flushed, 
fake Mrs. Capgras face. 
She even fooled the police, who scoffed at me
as if I were insisting that the earth is flat,
when all I did was to state the obvious fact--
Mrs Capgras isn't Mrs. Capgras.

My nerves are so frayed,
so jangled,
it really is a trial to be put through all of this,
fresh on the heels of Mr. Fregoli's machinations yesterday.
He conspired--yes he did--with every jane and johnny in the development
to leave me a nervous wreck,
and a laughingstock.
Everyone I met yesterday was wearing a Mr. Fregoli face,
talking Mr. Fregoli talk,
and plotting evil against me.
I wasn't fooled for a moment, but what a position it put me in! 
"Poor Samantha, she's gone quite crackers."

And now you.
You're in league with them, don't bother to deny it.
You Capgras, you Fregoli, you second-rate duplicate!
You changed, right after you bashed my head in
with the wooden bread keeper that used to sit on your counter.
I had said some things.
I had been angry, and hurt, and I said some unfortunate things.
I said them, and you cold cocked me
and began recruiting your doubles.
You, my girl, can be cold and dark and distant,
and fracture something of mine every blue moon,
but this is not you, 
whether anyone wants to hear the truth or not.
This is not you--
my heart would know.
________ 

for Fireblossom Friday "The Distorted Lens."

Process notes: Capgras delusion is a condition in which the sufferer believes that people around them are false dulpicates of who they seem to be. Fregoli delusion is a state in which the person believes that everyone they see is one particular person in disguise. Both can be the result of a head injury. Finally, domestic violence between female couples is an under-reported crime, and not uncommon.

22 comments:

Cloudia said...

Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."
Marcus Aurelius. <3

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Wow. I am watching some of the same thinking / perceptions in someone i know. It was amazing, reading this.

Sarah Russell said...

What a powerful write! I was with her in her delusion. So. Well. Done!

Magaly Guerrero said...

I love the depth of the poem, the way it reads like a movie... The anxiety and paranoia is so thick that it oozes out of each line. What terrible illnesses, those two. And domestic violence, well... that's a plague.

hedgewitch said...

This is a novel in itself, and a diary, and a learned article as well, on all the forms of distortion the heart or the hands of others can force on the mind-(-or maybe that should be the heart *in* the hands of others.) You make us look in the funhouse mirror--which is never funny--and see way more than we can handle, till everything is disoriented and distorted, then you spring that heart-anchor of a last line. Just amazing skill here, Shay, and of course, as always, your own unique poet's brush.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

My goodness this is good! Your poem reveals in depth the harsh reality behind domestic violence that in turn leads a person into the thicket of depression and paranoia. I admit my eyes were watering at the thought of that character and her suffering. Sigh.. powerfully written!

Fireblossom said...

NOTE TO MY READERS: Because I posted this a few days ago, comment moderation is ON. Don't worry, I will check pending comments frequently today, as i am hosting at Toads.

brudberg said...

First of all, thank you for the facts about the different syndromes of delusions, I had not heard of them (I dug into metaphor(sis) instead. Love how you can paint tragedy in dark humor with the two different scenes. The violence in relationships is terrible in any way it shows its ugly face and every combination is under reported I think..

Thank you for the prompt.

Martin Kloess said...

"whether anyone wants to hear the truth or not" - it all comes down to this.

Brendan MacOdrum said...

The manifold delusions of our time -- and Lordy, what house of distorted mirrors we live in -- allows for infinite diagnosis but little means of cure. Football players with CTE become murderers, vets with traumatic braini injury come home to commit suicide, successful suburbanites mistake their ass for a hat. Narratives like yours are tricky beasts -- how much to let the reader in on the illness -- is exactly how people go on living inside crazy heads. It also shows us how crazy each of us is. Great stuff.

Kerry O'Connor said...

This is mightily disturbing, Shay.

Toni Spencer said...

So sad that there are so many madnesses floating around in the world. males me glad I am a bit of a loner.

Kim Russell said...

The image alone was disturbing - then I read the poem! It's my cup of tea. I especially enjoyed:
'She even fooled the police, who scoffed at me
as if I were insisting that the earth is flat,
when all I did was to state the obvious fact--
Mrs Capgras isn't Mrs. Capgras';
'Everyone I met yesterday was wearing a Mr. Fregoli face,
talking Mr. Fregoli talk,
and plotting evil against me';
and
'You're in league with them, don't bother to deny it.
You Capgras, you Fregoli, you second-rate duplicate!
You changed, right after you bashed my head in
with the wooden bread keeper that used to sit on your counter'.

Jazzbumpa said...

Wow -

I was not getting this until I saw your explanation at the end.

Very powerful

Very well done.

Namaste!
JzB

Anonymous said...

Well you got right inside the gizzards of this one...frightening reality to consider but you place us there temporarily...thanks goodness.Glad the 'oriental Poem' made you laugh.

Susie Clevenger said...

I could hear, feel the delusion of the speaker in this poem. You've captured it well. My mother had Alzheimer's and she would corner me with "That man is not your father", and I would just have to take it because there was no convincing her otherwise. The mind can be overtaken by monsters of all kinds it seems.

Vivian Zems said...

Excellent play on words. I've been educated on this sad topic. Well done!

Julian said...

Firstly thanks for a great prompt and your piece which i think is Very good indeed, and frighteningly tragic, and I feel a tragedy in two ways, firstly for the sufferer and then the tragedy of the fact that this can so easily go unrecognised as an illness. Your notes were certainly informative, thanks for sharing.

Debi Swim said...

"And now you.
You're in league with them, don't bother to deny it." The paranoia never stops. So scary

Outlawyer said...

This changes subtly from the semi-comic to the very serious, and from the mentally ill to the mentally all, in the sense that we all understand what it feels like when the person we love is no longer the one we thought he or she was, and there is something very moving about reading that in the context of the larger delusions. Really interesting the way it works and very well done. k.

Dani H said...

Wow! just wow!

lynn__ said...

You drug us right into the delusional mind of your paranoid protagonist...excellent writing! I'm currently co-teaching a family-to-family class for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and I learned something new here.