Category Archives: Uncategorized

If A(ddict)=L(eper), then T(ough Love)=H(orse shit)

I have something I want to say to the majority of people I’ve interacted with of late: fuck you. I am weary to the bone of being treated like a fucking diseased pariah for the heinous crime of being a recovering heroin addict. I’ve been in medication-assisted treatment for over two years. The clinic I go to provides counseling and other services, and my attendance there has reduced harm from my addiction and brought increasing stability to my life. I’m a fairly honest person–I’ve been open about both my drug use and my recovery–but I’m quickly learning not to be. I was stopped about two weeks ago for not having plates on my car (and my moving permit was expired by one day), and then I was arrested for DUI because I told the highway patrol dick that I was coming from the methadone clinic. I am at a stable dose, meaning the methadone I take causes zero intoxication, but apparently driving dead sober on methadone is illegal in Nevada. I told a family member about this when she asked how I was doing and she responded, “I hate to hear that you still have to use synthetic drugs after all this time (sad emoji). Wish you well (kissy emoji).” What an arrogant, ignorant, and falsely righteous fucking statement. I get it; you can’t help how you feel, but you can help what you say. Keep your fucking dip-shit beliefs to yourself, please. Imagine I told someone, “Sorry to hear you still have to use synthetic drugs after all this time” to a diabetic or someone with MS. People would come unglued. If you’re thinking, “Well they didn’t choose to be diabetic” then fuck you too. I didn’t choose to be bi-polar and prone to addiction. Why does one person draw compassion and the other abhorrence?

Okay. I’m sorry for all the “fuck you’s” and such, but I find it very frustrating to be constantly treated like a second-class citizen by strangers, by the law, by family members. The most intelligent people I know are almost exclusively drug addicts and alcoholics or recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. Addicts don’t fuck up their lives because we don’t understand consequences. It’s not a lack of will power–I’d bet dollars to donuts me and the addicts I know can tough out far harder situations than most squares. If I could explain the mechanics of the problem, I probably wouldn’t still have the problem. Please, if you know an addict or an alcoholic, try to dial back the judgement and criticism. You could never be as hard on us as we are on ourselves, and frankly, your tough love is judgmental horseshit. If that’s all you can provide, then please just be quiet, and leave us alone.


My Muse is the Sun

My muse is the sun
And the stars from which I was born
My muse is my breath
Through which I am awake
My muse is my mother, my sons, my family and friends
Whom I deeply love
My muse is my father
Trembling in prison for life
My muse is my pain
My muse is sorrow
Tears shed in years of silence
My muse is this pen—-
scratching on the page
whispering solace
My muse is the Way—-
planted in me with martial love
by compassionate Masters
My muse is the sun

Succumbing to Serpents

I reached for you—-
panicked
like a man sinking beneath quicksand

I lashed out in pain
no better than a wounded animal
yet trusting by virtue of
your steadfast compassion
you’d see my anger for the sorrow it was

Instead, like a viper you struck
fangs pierced my mind
venom snuffed out my tiny flame of hope
for human connection in
this reeking, mental miasma

I’d been there for you so many times
you’d needed a friend

Yet you left me to sink
Alone
into myself
clutching my snake bite
in utter disbelief
and despair

I survived—-
my belief in your love did not

The First Union Carpenter I Ever Met

Rebar skeleton
sinews more like high-tension 
  cord: tiny, steel strands
flowing together into a juggernaut of 
  leanest strength
Hard hat spun
like backwards ballcap
young rebels maintain the
heart
Whiskey-soaked Copenhagen
   fat dips that would
give pharaohs 
  the Spins
Daytime, hung-over, weekday
 clever builder
ingenious tricks make his
trade magic
Nighttime, weekday, side work, I'm invited
He pounds beer and
I with him
He's had more practice
  We're both crazy
 and we drunkenly 
         relate

He tells me about cocaine paranoia--
hiding rubber bands choked
with cash and eightballs in the walls
       I imagine his mind deafened with the ringing 
    of those cocaine chimes
       and the slumping jungle bass
        of his heart eradicating the
location of the caches from his mind
See, he'd become maybe too good at cutting out sheetrock,
 mudding, taping, and matching the texture.

Goodbye


Knowing your love of artists,
I’d draw you pictures
of demons, smack, and flowers
Foolish, love-struck
Crazy just like you

I fell in love with you
when you promised to stab a man
in a street fight,
and he took three steps back

A bigger, more broken spirit
I’ve never known
A warrior to the bone
But I won’t chase you anymore—
I’m better off alone.

3/9/07

I went to grab a piece of paper and randomly read this page from my journal, describing a hospital stay after my first son had a stroke:

We just finished capturing Sam’s seizure activity on video tape. We heard some bad news last night. The neurologist is leaning towards a diagnosis of infantile spasms, which is a bad form of epilepsy. We still don’t really know anything yet. I feel positive about the future. I don’t know why; I just do. When I came back into the room last night, Lisa was crying so much her shirt was wet with tears. I knew I was in for bad news, so I think I went into survival mode. Lisa was on the phone with her mother I think. My mom was there too, doing what she always does in crisis situations: remaining calm. She told me what Dr. Schwartz had said. I nodded and absorbed it, feeling strangely detached. I hugged Lisa, told her everything would be fine and said we had to stay strong for Sam. She said that’s what her mom said. She calmed down, held Sam, and started playing with him and talking to him. That’s when I lost it. I sat at the table with a glass of beer I’d smuggled in and buried my head in my arms and cried. I cried so hard I had to go into the bathroom and shut the door. I sat in the door of the shower and begged God not to take my son. I apologized for everything, for laughing at things I realized just weren’t funny. I asked Him to take me instead of Sam if he had to. I think the only time I’ve felt a depth of sadness close to that was when we first learned he’d had a stroke.

Please God, Thy will be Done                                     
Preserve my Son’s Health
Let us Raise him Happy, Healthy
Strong and Smart.

Amen.

That’s enough journaling for now.


To a Loved One

I love you.

Are there three words more misused and misconstrued? Three words more powerful? Three words that can wound the betrayed more grievously with their hollow echo?

I don’t know, but I fucking doubt it. I’ve never spoken those words lightly, and I’ve meant them whenever I’ve spoken them.

I don’t believe a person can stop loving someone the way you can turn off the light, despite how much jilted lovers and estranged family members might pretend. And I know time is a slow-won salve for myriad heartaches.

But Death has taken many of my loved ones, and because of that, I’ve learned that not speaking to a person close to you due to some petty shame or trifling anger (and almost everything is petty and trifling in the face of Death) might be something you’ll come to regret until Death welcomes you as well.

If there is something you should tell a person who has ever been important to you, please just tell them.


On Brotherhood

I’m speaking from my limited point-of-view here: white, male, straight, working class, punk rock by heart, redneck by trade (my neck is literally red from working in the sun.) It has been my experience that when individuals get knocked around by life a little harder than usual—and they are lucky enough to form bonds—they tend to form strong bonds with others who maybe have had a rougher go at it than most. I am extremely grateful for the blessings and opportunities in my life, but it’s taken me well over forty years to even begin to find some peace that is more than fleeting.

One blessing in my life is my friends. I grew up afflicted with crippling shyness and wretched self-esteem, which left me feeling socially awkward and highly uncomfortable in almost any social situation. When I gave in and started drinking at 18, it was like I found the cure for that affliction—but that’s another story. What I have always had is a solid group of friends. Where our society sees heathens, junkies, bums, drug dealers, psychos, and white trash, I see intelligent (in different ways—book smart ain’t the only one), determined, compassionate, protective, and up-standing human beings who’ve been down through thick and thin for decades. Maybe we go a year or two without talking, but when we do, it’s usually like we never missed a beat. When your life goes off the rails, when you behave like a junkie or a violent ass, when you’re fucking up so bad your blood relatives turn their collective back, and you look around and see those rugged fools who love you anyway and have empathy for you because they’ve been there and know how easy it is for a man to fall (pardon the sexist viewpoint), those are your friends.

I’m not saying they’ll condone your addiction-fueled destruction, or that you’re always going to see eye-to-eye. In fact, one has to have heart to keep rising up after every fall, and stubbornness often comes hand-in-hand with tenacity, and all this will lead to arguments, possibly fist fights, but you can’t be a pussy about this sort of thing. A good friend might tell you how it is, call you on your bullshit so to speak, or not loan you money because he or she doesn’t want to be the one who facilitates your final overdose. I value my friends for many reasons—they do their best not to judge me, they’ll show up if I need to protect my family with guns, they put up with my moody, bipolar ass and still love me, and many other reasons. I try to take care of myself and flourish so that I don’t have to stress them out by needing their help overmuch, and so I can be there the best I can for them when the time comes. One thing I’ve learned only within the last five years is the importance of taking care of one’s self in order to be of better service to others. That being said, we all need a hand up from time to time: I know I’ve had my share, and I’m grateful to have had the help.

Most of my friends have known more than their fair share of suffering (as if life were fair and suffering were doled out equally like pudding cups in a school lunch room). These tribulations, though difficult, have refined the spirits of my brothers (and a sister or two), making them the beings I cherish and respect today.

To all my brothers, you know who you are, thank you for the good times, the support, the camaraderie, and even just taking the time to sit and listen to me at my lowest—when I felt I didn’t deserve to keep breathing valuable air that an actual human might need—and hear me, actually hear me without judging me. Thanks for having my back in street fights, even when my drunken ass probably had it coming. Thank you for caring about my boys and sharing an understanding with me that has oft made me feel like an alien when I’m not kickin’ it with y’all. I hope I can be as good a brother to you as y’all have been to me.

I dedicate this song to my homies:


Goodbye Mom

October 2020 was the last time I would have a conversation with my mom. After nearly dying in 2016, she made a miraculous recovery from lung cancer, and enjoyed four relatively healthy years before the cancer returned. It happened quickly–in the space of a month she went from doing chores around the house to calling me to come over and lift her up the single step in her foyer. I was at work when she called, building a deck in the midst of a pandemic.

“I’m dying,” she said, her voice husky but free of fear. “I want to die.”

“I understand,” I said. I did. She’d fought like a savage to come back from the edge of death and debilitation the first time. She felt my disabled son still needed her. I didn’t want her to suffer any more. It was her choice to make.

“I love you very, very much.”

“I love you too, mom.”

“Stay in treatment. Your boys need their father.”

“I will.”

“I love you very much,” she said again. The air compressor kicked on behind me, making any further conversation impossible. I didn’t try to call back. What was there left to say?

For me, it was the natural order of things, painfully tragic, but natural. I felt a keen sadness for my grandmother, who had already lost a twin sister. Now she would bury her child. I can only imagine the horror of having to do that, and I have great admiration for anyone who comes back from losing a child.

My mom was the best parent I could hope for. She was compassionate, intelligent, driven, creative, and she loved me far more than I deserved to be. She taught by example. Even cancer and death were hers to overcome. She was utterly non-violent, yet when it came to determination and sticking it out, she was the goddamn baddest motherfucker I’ve ever met.

I love you mom. I wish I’d shown you that more when you were alive. We all miss you. Thank you for everything I am that is life affirming and good. I’m not sure too many people would’ve been up to the task of raising me as well as you did with what you had. And if you can read this, mom, Sammy is doing great, though he really misses his grandma.


Heroin Is that Lover

Heroin’s that lover

whose beauty one regrets

that fantastical, maniacal

fuck

that has you rivaling Zeus in orgasm—

body driving deep with one sublime focus

of nerves and brain and skin and chi

shuddering, then spent

awash in flowing life energy

Or is it?

Closer maybe to that

picking, pecking, poking, pest?

accusing you with sharp tattoo?

Taboo! Hidden!

We crave that which is forbidden

And sweet oblivion!

O, Illusion!

Soothing me with her nepenthe kiss

in embrace eternal

I sink into the Styx

and learn to breathe those poison waters

as only the dead know how