I knew someone who was manic-depressive,
which now is called bipolar depression
and controlled, more or less, with lithium,
and she would often vanish for months,
you wouldn’t hear from her or hear
about her, and then you’d get a letter,
she just finished writing a play
and revising her novel and sending
twenty-two new poems to magazines
and painting her house and applying for jobs
and proposing articles to the local paper
. . . so you knew she’d been very far up
for at least some of the missing weeks.
I can’t say I ever envied her life,
as far down as often as up,
and I didn’t envy her husband, who may
have been mean to her in between
compassionate caretaking,
but now and again I’d ask myself:
Would it be worth the subsequent pain
to set off by rocket for clouds of glory?

Lithium, in case you didn’t know,
was an essential component of
the original formula for Seven-Up.



  1. Those who pursue creative careers wind up experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, with or w/o a formal diagnosis. The work is like that.

  2. As Dr. Evil would say, “Riiiiiiiiight!”

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