The distributive property of addiction

The thing itself seems too big and awful–she liked to shoot up in the bathroom, the list of people who enabled her suggested a big bathroom


Why do this thing? Where do the needles come from? Where do they go after? Do heroin addicts have sharps containers?

I make the elements of the equation as simple as possible–

Keith died of it

Mary died of it

It must have been a doorway

Why do you walk through that doorway the first time?

What is through the doorway that is so compelling that you must go back–no matter what

What were they running from?

She tells the story as though they were just cooking bacon

Who lets a 4 year old cook bacon? Who lets a 4 year old watch a fire burn or find their own way floor to floor to grandma’s apartment?

Who falls asleep on the bus back from the methadone clinic

With a baby

My baby. My baby now

I cannot turn away

If x equals the thing you must have and y equals the way it makes you feel

Then they were simply bound to x because of y

Like sky or free diving

there is a rush

But this time, this thing, chained her to it, brooked all reason

in the blood and the brain you cannot undo



When Mary talks now on the Fisher-Price phone of loss, she speaks with a five year old’s falsetto. She is breezy, upbeat even, and we exchange pleasantries through the medium of her daughter’s voice.

Mary, the girls have your laugh, I try to tell her before the line cuts off. Mary, I always wanted to be your real mom, I tell her before the line clicks off. Mary, that last day haunts me. The girls talk as though you still have the giant carnival unicorn, as though you tucked it under your arm and carried it right through

The earth will soon dissolve like snow/The sun forebear to shine/But God who called me here below/will be forever mine


pretend you are a stranger and I am one of those uneven folk you meet at a coffee shop almost from the moment you sit down I have begun to tell this unraveling story about children left alone in a locked room for hours and a fire and a crooked judge, a baby filled with light and her mother, a figure unfairly edited out of all the relevant fairy tales who then ends up dying, not “poison apple” but poison nonetheless and when they come for her with all the accoutrements of salvation there is none left for her, no magic, no fairy godmother, no antidote as the EMTs say oh, it’s (only) Badamo…which is why I, this intrusive stranger, ramble on and on in the coffee shop jamming words into the dam of unrequited 


Sleeping Beauty and the treachery of images

they say her dress

obscured her face when they found her in the river

he as young as his eventual wife would be

when she went from girl to muse

muse is a tricky thing, Child

who never was a pipe

I inventory both the cause and the cure for addiction

The need, the proper remedy, the clouds white amidst blue in the cup of your head

Chose a different slumber

Not opioid, not heroin, not poison in the fruit or spindle, not locked in a room, not guarded by dragon

Medicinal sleep

Antiseptic reset, white coats, gently beeping monitors

Let the girl rest

Let her own dreams fell the dragon

So that when the spell is broken 

The clouds and sky will spill out over her

Beautiful, fragile babies

Heroin Gone

Looks like deep


Draped across the seat

across the bodies of these hungry


 Immobilizing poison

Shot into blood vessels, skin 

I call to you, no answer

Try to warn you

This venal monster 

Hunts then kills its prey

No answer, Sleeping Beauty

Already heroin gone

Who takes apples from strangers in a storm?

Do you believe in ever after?

All the tropes of fairy tales will not save us from 

The story of a little girl trapped

In this worst kind

Of nightmare tries to call

for help

Nothing left

As the anatomical apparatus for sound and breath:

Lungs, rib cage, windpipe 

Collapses beneath the weight,

The force of  blows to this chest,

All alone,

Of the used-to-be