Her Headspace: On ‘Brain Fever’ and the Five Stages of Chicago Bears Grief

By Adam Boretz


Because my body is a wreck and due to a week of innumerable medical appointments[1] , I read Brain Fever in a fragmented, desultory fashion: in fits and starts and fragments — a poem or two in waiting rooms or between visits to neurologists and physical therapists and physicians.

coverThe effect was a strange one: Because of this splintered reading, I remember few of the individual poems in the collection. Instead, I am left with an uncanny feeling: that of having passed in and out of the weird and often wonderful mind of Kimiko Hahn. Even now, when I think about Brain Fever, the impression is that of occupying another person’s unique headspace — with all its fears, obsessions, desires, fetishes, and compulsions. And as a reader, I find this to be a rare and rewarding experience.

What I do remember most vividly about Brain Fever is the relentless formal experimentation: the quotations and redacted text and and clippings. And this, my favorite poem in the collection:

“Circles and Breasts”
“A fertility signal, a youth signal, a health signal, a
       wealth symbol.”
A gland and a store of fat.

“Mama” or, “¡Oye mamita!” if looking for a steamy
Preferably with real tissue.

For myself, though born in the fifties: pillow and/or punishment.
For myself, against the cliché of gravity

For the Amazon, cutting off the right side

in order to shoot her arrow
                                                                  straight into the adversary.

Surprising no one, the Bears lost again last week — and it really was a classic Jay Cutler performance: a pick six, a fumble (recovered by Chicago), and an injury that made way for Jimmy Clausen to enter the game and throw an interception of his own. I think I checked the score a couple times, but my heart wasn’t in it.

Chicago’s season is pretty much a total bust already. There’s no way we’ll beat Seattle today — with or without Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery, both of whom are injured — so we’re looking at 0-3, and I’ve pretty much lost all interest in watching. This probably means that I have entered into the all-important fourth stage of Chicago Bears Grief: Depression.

This is, I suppose, much more healthy than the preceding stages:

(1) Denial: We aren’t that bad. We have some talented young payers. There are some positives from the Packers loss.

(2) Anger: Why do we still have fucking Jay Cutler at quarterback? Why did we ever hire Marc Trestman? How is our once-great team such a total shitshow.

(3) Bargaining: This is a rebuilding year. We’ve got a new head coach and GM. We just need to build the offense around the run game and limit Cutler’s role.

And — in a few more weeks, after a few more losses, I can progress to the all important fifth and final stage, Acceptance (We are, indeed, a terrible football team.), which is personified by the below photograph:



[1] Fear not, dear reader. I, unlike my beloved Chicago Bears, will be just fine.


Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons, Smokin’ Jay Cutler.

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