Paranoid: a Chant by Stephen King

PARANOID: A CHANT   by Stephen King

I can’t go out no more.
There’s a man by the door
in a raincoat
smoking a cigarette.


I’ve put him in my diary
and the mailers are all lined up
on the bed, bloody in the glow
of the bar sign next door.

He knows that if I die
(or even drop out of sight)
the diary goes and everyone knows
the CIA`s in Virginia.

500 mailers bought from
500 drug counters each one different
and 500 notebooks
with 500 pages in every one.

I am prepared.

I can see him from up here.
His cigarette winks from just
above his trenchcoat collar
and somewhere there’s a man on a subway
sitting under a Black Velvet ad thinking my name.

Men have discussed me in back rooms.
If the phone rings there’s only dead breath.

In the bar across the street a snubnose
revolver has changed hands in the men’s room.
Each bullet has my name on it.
My name is written in back files
and looked up in newspaper morgues.

My mother’s been investigated;
thank God she’s dead.

They have writing samples
and examine the back loops of pees
and the crosses of tees.

My brother’s with them, did I tell you?
His wife is Russian and he
keeps asking me to fill out forms.
I have it in my diary.
do listen:
you must listen.

In the rain, at the bus stop,
black crows with black umbrellas
pretend to look at their watches, but
it’s not raining. Their eyes are silver dollars.
Some are scholars in the pay of the FBI
most are the foregneirs who pour through
our streets. I fooled them
got off the bus at 25th and Lex
where a cabby watched me over his newspaper.

In the room above me an old woman
has put an electric suction cup on her floor.
It sends out rays through my light fixture
and now I write in the dark
by the bar signs glow.

I tell you I know.

They sent me a dog with brown spots
and a radio cobweb in its nose.
I drowned it in the sink and wrote it up
in folder GAMMA.

I don’t look in the mailbox anymore.
The greeting cards are letter-bombs.

(Step away! Goddam you!
Step away, I know tall people!
I tell you I know very tall people!)

The luncheonette is laid with talking floors
and the waitress says it was salt but I know arsenic
when it’s put before me. And the yellow taste of mustard
to mask the bitter odor of almonds.

I have seen strange lights in the sky.
Last night a dark man with no face crawled through nine
miles of sewer to surface in my toilet, listening
for phone calls through the cheap wood with
chrome ears.
I tell you man, i hear.

I saw his muddy handprints
on the porcelain.

I don’t answer the phone now,
have I told you that?

They are planning to flood the earth with sludge.
They are planning break-ins.

They have got physicians
advocating weird sex positions.
They are making addictive laxatives
and suppositories that burn.
They know how to put out the sun
with blowguns.

I pack myself in ice – have I told you that?
It obviates their infrascopes.
I know chants and I wear charms.
You may think you have me but I could destroy you
any second now.

Any second now.

Any second now.

Would you like some coffee, my love?

Did I tell you I can’t go out no more?
There’s a man by the door
in a raincoat.


One of my favourite poems ever, from the Danse Macabre, which i loved when i was about 20 – i could almost recite it by heart back then

Jeanette Winterson and T.S.Eliot on time

Time. Newton visualized time as an arrow flying toward its target. Einstein understood time as a river, moving forward, forceful, directed, but also bowed, curved, sometimes subterranean, not ending but pouring itself into a greater sea. A river cannot flow against its current, but it can flow in circles, its eddies and whirlpools regularly break up its strong press forward. The riverrun is maverick, there is a high chance of cross current, a snag of time that returns us without warning to a place we thought we had sailed through long since.
Anyone to whom this happens clings faithfully to the clock; the hour will pass, we will certainly move on. Then we find the clock is neither raft nor lifebelt. the horological illusion of progress sinks. the past comes with us, like a drag-net of fishes. We tow it down river, people and things, emotions, time’s inhabitants, not left on shore way back, but still swimming close by.
A kick in the current twists you around, and suddenly we are caught in the net we made, the accumulations of a lifetime just under the surface. What were those stories about townships at the bottom of a river? Lost kingdoms tantalisingly visible when the water was calm? It is well-known that mermaids flash through the dark sea to swim like salmon against the river.
The unconscious, it seems, will not let go of its hoard. The past comes with us and occasionally kidnaps the present, so that the distinctions we depend on for safety, for sanity, disappear. Past. Present. Future. When this happens we are no longer sure of who we are, or perhaps we can no longer pretend to be sure who we are.
If time is a river then we shall all meet death by water.

[Gut Symmetries by Jeanette Winterson p.104]


Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
And the profit and loss.
A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.
Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

[The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot]

(jeanette quotes The Love Song of Alfred J Prufrock in The Passion – “till human voices wake us”)

James K Baxter : Autumn Testament

The kids here don’t shout out, ‘Jesus!’
Or, ‘Hello, Moses!’ as they did in Auckland


The creek has to run muddy before it can run clear!
Here in this very room I have seen it happen,

The lads and the girls in chairs, some kneeling, some standing,
Some wearing headbands, one strumming the guitar,

And Father Theodore setting down an old
Packing case covered with a blanket

For the alter of his Mass. There was no wind
To burst the house door in, no tongues of fire,

But new skin under wounds, the Church becoming human,
As if religion were not the cemetery of hope

But a flowering branch – ah well, it was some time ago,
Sly is in jail under a two year sentence,

Manu has gone back to the ward at Porirua,
And the Church can count her losses in Pharisaic peace.

James K Baxter : On The Shortest Day Of The Year

2 On the Shortest Day of the Year

If the black tree ferns teach me of winter
I remember this is the house of sleep.
At morning my friends do not rouse early
And I walk by the wharepuni in the sun
With a rubber-ferruled stick and sandals on my feet,
Not worrying too much about the price of living.

They say on the marae, ‘The living to the living;
The dead to the dead’ – These black bones of winter
Will rise and walk with lightning in their feet
One day, but not yet. To welcome the doom of sleep
Is Adam’s fate, though the molten gaze of the sun
Rouses to simple joy the birds that wake early

As if in paradise. I had to learn early
How to bear the yoke that rests on the back of the living,
The grief of all who travel beneath the sun,
Because the soul cannot cast off winter
Until Christ comes to wake her from her sleep
And the stars begin to journey on joyful feet,

Those archers with their arrows, whose proud feet
Trample above our roofs. Walking early
On the road from Raetihi, able to long for sleep,
Able to suffer pain, my body cold, but living,
A man in the grip of the dark, I saw the stars of winter
Blaze with the light but not the heat of the sun,

Rivers of fire above me. Then I craved for the sun
To shine on my wet head, to warm my feet,
To bring me alive out of the ditch of winter
Like God’s arms. Here, though, I lie down early,
Comforted by the faces of the living,
Under a dry blanket, to talk and then to sleep.

If the guitar twangs till dawn, and one can’t sleep,
Friends are the cause of it. Only when the sun
Lifts the valley fog do I rouse to join the living,
Drink some coffee, put sandals on my feet,
And go to walk on the grass of the marae early
Where pools of muddy water lie in winter.

I praise your winter, Lord, from the kingdom of sleep.
You shine like the early light of the sun
On a road that is hard for my feet. To be is hard for the living.

A Fateful Day, 1996

Thursday April 18, 1996

On this day, Rebecca, my love and my life, said that she had realised that her real personality had for years been suffering under the weight of St Matthias and evangelicalism (which we knew) and my own personality (which I guess I knew…). She had to get away from me and from anyone she knew, anyone who would attempt to influence her or tell her what they thought was right or wrong.

So she got in the car, got a YHA card, and went to Melbourne. That was what she needed, and it was good. I coped mostly because a few hours after she left, Paul rang up to say he had his internet access, and I found that so did I. And because I was working morning shift. So for a week, I got up at 4:30, skated/drove/bussed to the airport, worked, came home, explored my computer, and slept. Interspersed with time I spent with various people, mostly Rozelle [now Plunge] types and the neighbours.

Now (29/4) she’s back, but only somewhat. She got back to Sydney on Saturday the 27th, and has decided to stay indefinately with Melinda and Brenton (and Geordie). I saw her today for the first time in 12 days. We talked, and it was ok. If sad. We see a counsellor on Wednesday, and we both want her to be able to live with me, for the rest of her life, without her personality becoming lost. We both want the real Rebecca, but we fear that if I try to have her, neither of us will. Rebecca wants to work on the relationship, but the sort of work she’s been doing for years is bad. She needs to work not on pleasing me and being the right person, but on being herself, strong enough to escape the black hole of my influence.

Many years ago, in the midst of our tumultuous relationship at uni (just before our last real breakup, I think), I wrote a poem.


I soared upon her back,
we rode together the wings of her passion:
diving towards the river styx,
climbing towards Elysium.
And under my guidance we shunned the pits of hell,
and under my weight we missed the joys of heaven.
I provided a stability not her own:
her flight became less erratic,
our paths more predictable,
until my weight became a burden,
and she dropped to earth.

I fell to the ground,
sobbing dispassionately for the clouds,
As she rose, unfettered,
to the peak of heaven,
via the pit of hell.

And she wrote something in her diary book, quoting my poem:

… He has changed and so has Lynda. I also see them differently. Andrew has learnt pain through knowing my mind and the love which he has given me without the possibility of it’s greatest, and only, fulfilment – the rest of his life with me. The tragedy is that I also love him, need him, but who he is extinguishes what I am. He takes away the loneliness, but also my self, since I can only see the world through his mind when I am with him. He cries now and I comfort him, while crying at his pain and fearing the future when he will be gone. But he must go if I am to live, and I wish that he needn’t.

We’ve been married for three years, and it’s exactly the same.

It’s a year later now. We couldn’t both have the real Rebecca. The counsellor was ok, as much as they ever are, and the friends were good. She’s lived in half a dozen places, and still isn’t ‘on her feet’. We talk, we begin to be able to laugh, we see our future as friends. I think of her the way I think of a few other girls I know and love, but who are not avaliable – and who I don’t think I want to be with anyway.

I found a poem by William Blake


He who binds to himself a joy Does the winged life destroy: But he who kisses the joy as it flies Lives in eternity’s sun rise.