I’ve seen you before. And I’m not saying “I’ve been you before.” I’m just saying that I’ve seen you. That’s all. Always on the run. Always looking for the score.
Your eyes tell a thousand stories of half-closed reveries that dangle you like an empty cobweb. Meanwhile, your eyes are telling me a different story. I can see that you want to rip through your skin. You’re sick, achy, sniffling and there’s only one cure to make this better.
It’s funny though . . .
It all starts out as some crazy fix. It’s a fascination for the feeling of something that brings us out of this world. But there’s more to it than just the high. There’s the rituals. There’s the routine, which is more like a romance of a step-by-step habit and a sensational idea that takes place.
And I get it.
There’s a perceived coolness to it all. Until you’re in. That’s when the novelty wears off and the half-life of your nods are less infinite and more infrequent. It’s all good until the habit comes and then it’s more like a job.
I get all the rock star fantasies and the tough-guy gangster business. I get all the war stories and the dramatized movies which somehow glorify this as cool. I get the adrenaline rush. I get the razor-like edge and the balancing act. I get the persona, the image, the feelings and, oddly enough, I understand the attraction. I get that this might sound haunting to some but to others, this is like a soft-grade of porn, only teasing them for more.
I used to call the high my spot in a little cocoon. I’d slip in and find myself detached from the world. I was coated and protected. There was no pain or concern for my appearance, whether I was beautiful or ugly; either way, it didn’t matter. Not here. And I was sick too. I was always on the run. I was never comfortable unless, of course, I was fixed. I never had a feeling of accomplishment. Nothing was real. Everything was a layer away from me, detached, and there was this invisible barrier between me and the world. There was no real sense of joy. There were only attempts.
It is a lot for me to put this here. However, there’s a reason why I put this here. I want you to imagine the action. I want you to see a side of me that no longer exists. This is an old piece of me that still leads me to wipe my fingerprints from things that I’ve touched.
This is a part of me that I have reconciled with; yet, this is a part of me who has seen people lose their life to a life that had no living. Do you understand?
I am not who I was nor am I anything close to a so-called tough guy. I am a person who is approaching the 50 year mark of my life. I have scars that date back to my early childhood and the occasional nightmares that still haunt me.
And dig it – I once found myself in the search for the perfect “Head.” I wanted to find the perfect balance on the razor-like edge that slices between life or death.
I am not proud nor do I find this comfortable. None of this was good. Instead, all of this wiped away time that I will never earn back.
I note that this is real and that the beast within this lifestyle is winning by the minute. Each day, another life is taken. Each day, someone else forfeits. Each day, someone gives it a shot and takes a chance thinking, “I’ll just give it a try.”
This is why “The first hit is always free.”
That’s how they get their hooks in.
I was moved by the poetry of Saul Williams when he said, “Stealing us was the smartest thing they ever did. Too bad they don’t teach the truth to their kids.”
Williams was talking about this from a racial standpoint. However, there was another piece of this to me which I grabbed onto like the tail of something bigger than myself.
I remember when I was stolen. I remember when I was prescribed a medication (to help me).
I remember when Paulie gave me a glass pipe in his white Trans-Am. I remember when Mikey and I took a dose from East New York Brooklyn, as if to say, “Here, this will help bring you down.”
We came across a bag that stopped the bugs from weaving in our skin and sank us down to a big drain-pipe in an empty street sewer.
No one ever thinks, “That’ll be me.”
Until it is and when it is, you’re like a bear in the woods. This is when they realize that they’ve lost their trail of breadcrumbs which will make it impossible to find their way home.
I will admit to this; however, before I move on, I would like you to know that features in my prose to follow have been altered. Names have been changed to protect the less-than innocent.
I was lost.
I sat down to feel a warm rush move through my body.
My mind collapsed in what I saw as a beautiful spiral,
sinking me into the ground and then suddenly,
everything in my life slowed down to an immediate crawl.
Anything outside of my world was irrelevant, — but inside,
my so-called mental church was infected
by the ideas of some crazy resurrection.
A lightbulb swung in the middle of the ceiling,
— dangling from wires in the center of a broken down room.
I could smell the sickness and vomit.
(that was me).
But that didn’t bother me. No, that was only more of the same.
Besides, I was unmoved and unable to care.
I was detached and dangling like a loose cobweb.
I was weightless and swaying in the breeze.
No bothers. No thoughts.
No demons either, except for the ones near B-15th Street.
But dig it:
I loved the euphoria. It pushed my reality to the side.
This melted the hard sounds and softened the sharp edges.
I used this to euthanize my position between stress, pressures
and boredom alike.
I used this to switch me over to a mindset
of a place that had no gravity, no shame,
nor fear or insecurity. There was nothing.
Just me in my little cocoon.
Vince came through the door and asked if he could set up.
I liked Vince. He was more like an older brother to me.
He was a mentor for sure but he was also infected.
I watched him prepare.
“Never let it get this bad, kid.”
He’d tell me to, “Stay away from the pins.”
He meant the needle.
Strange though, right?
This is the way it went; the elder warning the younger.
But I never understood why.
Why would you warn someone when meanwhile,
you’re setting up next to them
and sharing the same sickness?
He told me, “You should kick.”
He said, “You should find the book or something.”
Vince meant the Bible. He was an altar boy (once).
Vince always had a Bible with him.
He would recite verses.
He quoted scriptures and I would listen.
I listened to Vince because everything he said made sense,
—and all of the bible verses Vince chose seemed to fit.
He knew where I was. He’d say, “I’ve been there before.”
There was something that made sense about the bible verses
because as dirty as I was and as beaten down or broken as I became,
there was something clean about my search.
There was something heavenly but synthetic.
I wanted to be pure (like Jim Carroll said).
I wanted to find myself in the atmosphere of greatness.
Untouchable. Absolved. Forgiven from my trespasses
and uncaring about those who trespassed against me.
Sweat rolled down the bridge of my nose.
My attention was elsewhere until I lifted from a nod.
I re-entered the room, emerging from a soft haze
and there he was.
Vince was preaching again.
About to shove, Vince said,
“He who follows me shall not walk in darkness,
but have the light of life.”
His eyes 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 inside my dreams.
Or so I thought.
I saw my poison and sin.
This materialized in the version of weeping angels,
falling from grace, backwards and upside down.
I could almost hear them dying in soft explosions
which burst through my mind.
Maybe this was the symbolization of my brain cells,
dying off, euthanized,
and slowly moving me to that devastated crawl.
I saw a light . . .
Light came in, as if it were the resurrection of Genesis.
I swear that I swallowed pieces of sunshine,
hoping that I could take a better breath.
I wanted to be pure. I wanted to be good.
I looked for something beautiful.
I searched for something brilliant;
for something out of this world.
But all I could find was a tiny envelope with powder inside.
This was all I had to answer my riddle.
In the end, the result was always more than I could afford,
which is why I suppose that I sold myself,
one piece at a time.
I looked for answers but the answers never explained anything.
Instead, I was left in the mystery of a search;
I was a sheep who had strayed from the flock,
hoping for redemption,
hoping for the light but the light exposed the darkness
this exposed my deeds
in my heart and in my soul.
This is what kept the hole digging deeper and deeper.
I was hoping to find The Shepherd.
Instead, I found my answers in tiny envelopes,
stamped with a logo named “King” from 134th Street.
Back in the room, Vince was still preaching.
“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 hope so, Vince . . .
because this sickness is incredible~
The above prose is something that has been written and rewritten throughout the years. This is based on different experiences with different people and from different times and moments in my life.
And here we are, together (for the moment).
I see you. And no one can reach you. Not me. Not the Good Shepherd.
Not anyone down at St. Barnabas in the Bronx.
I’m here though. If you want or if you need.