I try not to entertain the old thoughts. I don’t give them much room nor do I welcome the old dreams, but yet, they still come. I have them. The drug dreams, which haunt me sometimes.
This is why I never tell war stories. This is why I never glorify the old life because first, that person wasn’t really me and second, there is no reason to glamorize or glorify a lifestyle that does nothing except destroy.
The dreams always come in the same fashion. I find myself somewhere familiar, yet, I’ve never been there before. Yet, maybe I have and I just don’t remember. The hour is late. Or so it seems. I am dressed in a bunch of jackets so I only assume it’s wintertime. I am dressed as if I am homeless or perhaps I was just on the street for a few days.
I usually find myself walking with a hood up over my head. I head down what appears to be one of the inner-city streets. There is garbage on the sidewalks. Steel gates are rolled down over storefronts like an urban ghost town with a few sheets of old crumpled newspaper blowing around in tiny cyclones by the sidewalk.
I can see the streetlamps that glow like yellow pendants, reaching over the streets in a dim shade of eeriness.
I am often walking underneath an old train trestle like the ones with the trains that ran high above streets in East New York, Brooklyn.
There is no one else around in these dreams. I am alone but I can tell there are people nearby. They are the other zombies; they are junkies, looking for a score and looking for a place to set up.
There is a sense of urgency. And I can feel it. I can feel the order of business and what needs to be done, which is natural to me. I am not a stranger here. I know what to do and where to go. But yet, I’m not sure why.
There is something wrong and I know this. I know that I’m not supposed to be there but for some reason, there I was and I’m not sure why.
All I know is that I’ve seen places like this before. I know that I’m on the hunt. I’m looking for something. I know that I’m not always looking for the same thing.
Some dreams are crack binges and speedy with the infestation of cocaine bugs that weave through the pores of my skin. Other dreams are slower-paced and haunting from a different perspective.
These are the dope dreams. These are the scenes with infinite nods and slowly dwindling bodies collapsing like lifeless puppets. These are the dreams where all is equally haunting, but yet, the angels die slowly here instead of fast. They don’t pop off in the milliseconds of light to torch the crack pipe.
It has been so long since any of this has been me, but yet, my dreams still seem familiar. They seem as if no time has passed and like an old friend, the drug fiend is always willing to pull up a chair and talk for a while.
Sometimes I dream about rooftops. I often dream that I have jumped after realizing what I had done. I come to a moment of awareness. I realize the mistake and feel an immediate rush of shame. The dreams always seem to go this way.
I think to myself, “What did I just do?”
Then I think of all the people I’ll have to explain myself to. I think about the loss of value and the loss of my time. I think about the work I put into being “ME” and how all of this was flushed away. It’s all gone. All was traded for a momentary blitz called instant gratification.
This isn’t me, I think to myself.
And next, I find myself trying to run but the dreams won’t let me go. I want to run away. I want to escape but there is something haunting me, breathing down my neck. Sometimes I have someone chasing me. Sometimes I hear gunshots and someone is firing at me. Sometimes I try to scream but I just can’t. And one time; one time I dreamt that I realized this was only a dream. I begged to wake up and when I did, I was still dreaming.
I don’t know why there is something so haunting and yet so tempting about this life. I suppose that although deadly, the drug itself feels so good that the price of admission is almost worth the ride. And you lie to yourself about this too. You tell yourself, “That won’t ever happen to me.” You say you can hack it. You say you can beat it. And then you find yourself beaten.
I knew a man that told me he would never go down that road again. He had more than 37 years away from the drugs and the bottles. He was a good man. He had amazing strength. He was the kind of person that everybody loved. And then he had surgery. Then he was turned on to pain meds to help him get through the pain. Then his body was reintroduced to an old friend that was really no friend at all. And then it was over
I have fears about this. I have fears of being in pain or being placed on medications that tease me away to an old fascination. I have fears that something will happen and somehow, I lose everything I’ve worked for.
I notice these dreams come when I am triggered or feel weak. I notice them coming when I am faced with the ideas of rejection. I notice this happens when I am hurt and like a predator, the old demons come in to see if I am weak enough.
But I’m not.
I came across an old poem of mine, I sent this to an old friend from the neighborhood. I sent this to him because this was something he could understand. We lost a lot of friends, both he and I. I want him to create some music to this. And I can read it. And together, we can say what we want.
There I was, lost
I sat down to feel a warm rush move through my body.
My mind collapsed in tiny spirals,
sinking into the floor
and everything slowed down to the speed of a crawl.
The outside of my small world was irrelevant, —but inside,
my little church was infected by the wrong type of resurrection.
The room was typical, filthy, abandoned, like some old movie
Or junkie film about street kids that took it on the run.
A light swung, dangling from wires in the ceiling in the center of the room.
I could smell the sickness and vomit.
But I wasn’t bothered.
No, I was unmoved and unable to care.
I was detached
I was dangling like a loose cobweb
swaying in the breeze, —lost and weightless
I loved the way my euphoria came on.
It pushed reality to the side and melted the hard sounds;
it softened the sharp edges of life on life’s terms
and euthanized the position between stress and boredom.
I used the high because this switched me over
to a mindset that was absent of gravity.
That’s when Vince came through the door.
He sat nearby me.
I watched him prepare as he warned me,
“Never let it get this bad, kid.”
And it went this way; the elder warned the younger,
though I never understood why.
Why would you warn someone and meanwhile,
you’re setting up next to them and sharing the same sickness?
Vince told me, “You should kick.”
He said, “You should find the book or something.”
And by the book, Vince meant the Bible.
Vince carried a Bible with him.
He would recite verses.
He quoted scriptures, and I would listen.
I’d listen because the scriptures always seemed to fit.
Sweat rolled down the bridge of my nose.
My attention lifted from the nod. I re-entered the room,
emerging from a soft haze and Vince was preaching again.
About to shove, he said,
“He who follows me shall not walk in darkness,
but have the light of life.”
(The needle pierces)
Vince’s eyes were half closed and watery.
His posture bent and drifting downward.
Vince continued, “I am the door.”
“I am the bread of life,” he said
“I am the good Shepherd.”
And then God the Father spoke to me inside my dreams.
I saw my poison and sin materialize
As weeping angels fell from grace, upside down, dying slowly
I could almost hear their death in soft explosions
that burst through my mind.
Then light came in, like Genesis.
I swallowed pieces of sunshine
wishing that I could taste the light;
mixtures of powder answered temporary riddles
but in the end,
they never explained themselves
and there I was
left in mystery.
Vince preached, “Surely goodness and mercy
shall follow me in all the days of my life;
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.”
I thought to myself,
I sure hope so Vince . . .
because the sickness is incredible.