the end is just the beginning of admittance.

There were several last times. But the last last time was almost eight years ago.

I still struggle with what to call myself. Sometimes I will tell someone I am a former addict, but that doesn’t seem quite true. Former alludes to past and although it isn’t an active part of my present, my addiction resides in me at all times.

It has complicated relationships with lovers and kept me at a distance with friends. Although I no longer seek out drugs in the ways in which I used to, I never want to be in the same room as them.

My drug came in tiny bags and bottles, but my drug also existed inside me. Addictions often arrive in multiples. Though I consumed in front of others, I preferred being alone. It was my secret. I never wanted anyone to know how much or how often or the amount I was spending or what I was doing to get it. It was never cool or something I felt the need to confess to others. I always felt shame.

As I approach the anniversary of my birth, I look back on years of blurred breathing. I tried various modes of treatment, but what continues to work is arriving at each day approaching every hour one tick at a time.

As I write these words, I find myself watching letters lunge onto the screen and then disappear. I think: That is too much. You shouldn’t write that. Or no one needs to know all this about me.

We are living in a time when people post pictures of every meal they eat and document each moment of their day. We are no longer keeping things in. I struggle with giving too much away. I’ve kept a lot of secrets. I’ve lost lovers and friends because of this addiction as well. I don’t really feel the need to tell you about my intake of food or share a picture of myself on the subway in a bar in a dance club on the street in a bathroom.

What leads me to unzip, unfold and release some of this is because I know I am just one of many. Each time I ask someone to hold out their hands and I let something private slip out of my mouth, I feel closer to forgiveness of my self. All around us, people are dying due to various addictions and secrets that cause the ones who survive to ask questions: What could I have done? Should I have reacted sooner?

If I can save one person from starting, I’ll turn out my pockets and give them all the memories I stuff in there. I’m trying not to hide anymore. It is an extremely difficult procedure. To give away. To reveal. I can take off my clothes far easier than letting you know the traditions and lineage of my scars.

So there is no end to this, but some things have changed. I no longer seduce medicine cabinets like women, batting my eyes at milligram content and side effects. I (do my best to) stay far away from pills and prescriptions. I say no a lot more to remind myself that I can. I remind myself of the time I’ve accrued, but do not obsess over this. Addicts regress, but this doesn’t take away the strength of sobriety. This is why one day at a time is stitched into pillows and posters and bodies and meditative mantras. One can never say never again. It is an unfair summation. It just isn’t that easy.

So we mention today. Which will guide us toward tomorrow. And the day after that. And beyond.





question the existence of maybe

Maybe you can call out sick because today could be the day you find where those roots end and earth truly begins.

Maybe bodies arrive sick and limbs break off when air becomes too aggressive.

Maybe that human houses two genders or three and really, so many of us do.

Maybe that touch does not feel as good as you say it does.

Maybe I never understood but now it is too late to ask why why why did I leave you.

Maybe it is not that water turns the sky blue, but the sad in our skin reflected from below.

Maybe when you asked me where I was from, I should have said: paper.

Maybe we have carved too many scars into buildings and memories.

Maybe the way that she loved [me] was the way that she was loved.

Maybe existence is about silence and if you must tell, alert the trees; they keep secrets.

tell me something you promised you wouldn’t tell

You told me during the hours of one day ending and another’s approach.
You explained it was because of your eleventh year of breath-control and that time.
You wanted to illustrate the reason you need to be choked.
You check-in to places to convince others you are going places.
You have never loved while loving while being loved while making love.

Sometimes I wish I had driven with you in rented taxi to airport.
Sometimes I think about bi dissecting my sexuality.
Sometimes I need to stuff my body with plasma to make sure it still churns in me.
Sometimes I need to talk about drugs to stop myself from doing them.

You said it was always something like love but could only exhibit it through hate mail.
You falsified your resume.
You cheated on your diet and lied about last night’s dream sequence.
You wished you had been a drifter instead of an academic.
You’ve never been monogamous.

Sometimes I dream that you are in front of me and we are eating calzones on your rooftop.
Sometimes I think I might have lost my cells on your mattress.
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if my hair went away.
Sometimes I need to be abstract so you will ask me what all of this means.

talk about the time you woke up this morning

I lost someone several years ago. This isn’t the type of loss where you forget where they’ve moved to or no longer have their phone number or got into a ridiculous fight and no longer speak to one another.

This was was the kind of loss that cannot be found.

Fidgeon and I met at Christopher Park in the west village where many poems were written and drugs were scored. I’d sit on the same bench with whatever notebook I was writing in at the time and watched the people arriving and remaining. He was there the first time and most of the times. Through him, I met Justin from Jersey who got clean in jail but wasn’t quite clean anymore. Through him, I met Martin, an old hustler. I met Debbie, covered in bed bugs from the shelters. I met the man with several large nose rings. But it was always Fidgeon I came back to.

After we met, I wrote a poem about him. It wasn’t something I aimed to do, the words arrived.

getting my bearings downtown on christopher street

jesus wants to save his forearm from something that might get him another bullet hole or stab wound willing his pale freckled skin to break away so he sits there/ frozen / awaiting his resurrection/ as the arm lifts brandy to lips speaking to me/ and all I can hear is the sound of pigeons chased away…

I gave this poem to him, captured in thin purple chapbook several months later. He could not believe a poem had been written about him. For him. In his white, ribbed tank top and short sleeved shirt dangling from his back pocket, he jumped around the park shouting:

I got a poem published! This poet wrote about me! I have a poem! I’m in a poem!

Fidgeon couldn’t read well, so he asked me to read it to him. His eyes, the color of ocean strained of human waste, watched me sound out each word.

I kept going back. He’d tell me about his ex-wife who he still loved and hated simultaneously. His son, who was forever tattooed on his shoulder blades. He never asked me for money. And when I was there, he protected me. If Justin or someone whose name I hadn’t learned came up to me (“Can I be in a poem too?”), he’d push them away. He liked full access to the poet. To me. And I gave him my full attention because I knew him best. I knew he was trying hard to stop drinking, even though he later died from it.

Fidgeon did not know much about me. As years went by, my own behaviors were not so dissimilar to those who frequented this park. The difference was I was going to University or had an apartment to return to and a family who still called and a savings account.

Almost three years ago, on a wintery day in mid-January, I learned of Fidgeon’s death from the man with many nose rings. I cried for this man whose last name I never learned.

I haven’t lost many loved ones in my life. I’ve let go of a lot of people as I’ve gotten older. It’s difficult for me to maintain friendships. I’m hardened. I’ve got walls that even lovers haven’t been able to break through.

Now, Fidgeon’s photograph is taped to the window in my bedroom. He floats. Often, when I wake, it feels like a choice. Sometimes, I waver. Sometimes I still go back to Christopher Park and just wish I could see him one more time to let him know what he really meant to me.

So, there was this morning when I woke up. After that time I tried to slice away my lineage. After the night where I passed out from illegal substances. After that time I entered into a world I should never have been a part of. After that time and that time and that time and there was that time…

Sometimes, it is just because I set my alarm clock and I don’t want to disappoint it by pressing snooze over and over again.

Sometimes it is because of that cup of coffee.

Sometimes it is after glimpsing an orange-squeezed sunrise and how can I sleep that away?

I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow morning. I can only talk about this one. And today, I am waking up for him.