Both missions – Before and after
Wintertime, 1990 (February, I believe)
I never thought that this would be me
here, living on a farm somewhere up north
short haired and disciplined or should I say “leashed”
or healed like a dog who ran too wildly.
I was north of everything I knew.
I was north of the only living that my young life could understand.
After all, this was supposed to be the time of my life.
I was young, which is for certain and yet,
I was lost in plain sight
Sifting through the damages and sorting through ideas of loss,
which was the loss of my Father
and the loss of my teenage life
or the rites of passage.,
I found myself at the outlet of my consequences.
The farm was strict –
it was a style of living, like nothing I had ever imagined.
There was no social life or fun times and yet,
this would be the same place that later in life;
I regarded this as the best days of my youth.
The winter was cold and the snow was plenty
I never thought that this would be the place where I’d find myself.
Then again, I never thought that I was supposed to be looking either.
I thought I was right . . .
. . . it’s the world that was wrong.
(Right?) One day, the snow was heavy,
the power went out,
which was fine for us because this meant less of a labor detail.
We checked on the animals and shoveled our way to the barn.
We put all the sheep inside and made sure the pigs were fed.
We had no hot water – so showering was brutal!
I had never seen a place like this before.
I had never seen a view like this either, high up in the upstate mountains
living where the world is quiet
and there is no such thing as human interruption.
I was far from the city lights and far away from the crazy corners and the crazy places
where stickup kids look to make a quick buck to buy a quick fix..
I was away from my surroundings and
away from the sad mourning rituals
that came with the loss of my Father.
I was nowhere that I’d ever thought I’d be yet
I was exactly where I was supposed to be –
away, understanding how to live,
learning how to work,
learning what it meant to “go at it”
one day at a time.
I had my thoughts and my doubts and, of course,
I had my moments of faithlessness,
is what which drew my attention
and pulled me towards the opportunities:
or try and break free.
But what was it?
What kept me there?
I can say that there was a morning of perfect silence.
There was a moment between the dorm and the barn
where I heard nothing else but the wind.
The grounds were covered in blankets of white.
The snow was deep and already, my toes were cold but yet –
none of this mattered.
I was in total amazement of myself
and my surroundings.
Better yet, I was aware –
Looking around to see my place in the world,
I felt the cold wind blow across my face.
I saw the large pieces of snowflakes as they fell from the sky,
and then – there was nothing else.
There was nothing more than quiet.
There was nothing more than a momentary decision,
which changed the direction of my life.
There is this thing in our world
This moves in silence (and violence)
There is this thing, creeping through neighborhoods
devising its way through cracks,
through the crevices of our family values,
through denial, and beyond the barriers of those who claim:
“not in my backyard, pal.”
There is this thing, which is as old as time,
which is as deadly as ever,
which is real and alive
which kills like a silent virus
and seen as an unspoken cancer.
There is this thing within our society,
which sweeps through streets both poor and wealthy
and through schools
and even through the unexpecting windows of hospital rooms
or to people who swear
“THAT’LL NEVER BE ME!!”
Until it is . . .
I don’t know what it was.
Maybe it was the loss of my Old Man.
Maybe it was the finality of life,
which I had never felt threatened by before
because, let’s face it –
the poison settles the nerves
and once the powder turns to bloodstream;
if you die, it’s not like you’ll feel it
and if you survive,
it’s not like you’re not going to try again
to see how close you can come.
It’s not like you can forget what it feels like
to be next to complete nothingness –
to experience the absence of all,
to be at the outlet of an outright defiance
or absent from the awareness of anything
and aligned to the endless center of feeling weightless –
I don’t know why the dreams still happen
or why the past haunts me anymore.
I don’t know if this is nothing more than a pocket in my brain,
which stores the arrows that used to shoot down my old dreams
Or, maybe this is a compilation of both
maybe this is the matter of both resolved and unresolved fears
At the time of this entry, I have been clean for more than 31 years.
I don’t recreate the past in my mind anymore
nor do I find myself threatened by it.
Not at all.
However, I do respect where I’ve come from
and, furthermore, I understand the power of emotion.
I know how it feels to hurt and want the pain to go away.
I know what it’s like to be hit with fits of boredom
or to want to rebel
or resist to conform.
I know plenty,
So, let me use what I know
to help us both
I remember –
I’d see the headlights pass the window
“Is that him?”
But no, those were headlights . . .
But those were not the headlights I was looking for.
Inside, my heartbeat pounded which made the tiny wheels in my head
spin faster and faster.
I only hoped the little mouse inside could keep the pace
before the wheel slipped off its track.
And speaking of tracks . . .
Remnants of powder flaked to the ground,
Ever see this?
They cast themselves like mirages
or specks of little white lies
and each time I think I find a piece,
I was wrong . . .
At times like this
All one can do is continue to search
All one can do is crawl the floor
It’s like you’re on an invisible leash
and the powder gods keep taunting
or pulling you around
and there’s nothing you can do . . .
It’s because cocaine bugs know
that you have no other choice –
except, to follow their lead.
The jaw grinds, teeth clench
the stomach is a new kind of empty,
growling in the emptiness of nausea
laced with the leftover evidence of a bitter,
but unforgettable flavor –
this is the part hat pulls you in . .
Crazy, I know
but as much as you’re warned about this
No one believes it until they feel it
and by then, you’re hooked
The flavor comes from the post-nasal drip
that’s been cloaked with numbness
The drip falls down from the nose
passed the back of the throat
and it lands in the pit of despair.
And that’s what this is: Despair.
Headlights pass and I watched them.
Is that them?
No . . .
Once again, those were headlights
But not the ones I was looking for.
I watched for the headlights like I was awaiting a stay of execution,
wishing a package would appear
I was waiting for something to execute the adrenaline
which was nothing more than a chemical reaction
caused by the return of gravity.
Headlights passed but not the headlights I was looking for.
I watched them and waited
I waited for the only thing that could help me
or soften the imaginary whispers
“Shit! I’m all out of cough syrup.”
(Sometimes it helps cut the edge a little. But not much)
At times like this:
Every nerve is stretched
can’t sit still
can’t change the feeling in my spine.
eyes wide open
lips burned from a glass pipe
Headlights finally come, and “Knock, knock”
Did you bring it?
“Are you the one that called me?”
“Then sit down, son.
We have something brand new to talk about.”
Enter the dope nod – stage one
I do not think much about the days of “way back,”
nor do I have any time to glorify them.
I am a person who knows where I have been
and as well, I am one who understands
that anyone can fall to anything.
Especially the ones who believe they are “Better than!”
I made a decision, which was not too long ago,
which was to enter the ring and engage in the fight,
which I see is growing
I see this daily with people mainlining in the street,
right in the open, needle down into the vein
and do you know what?
I’m sure all of them said, “THAT’LL NEVER BE ME!!”
Until it was them.
It’s hard to be real or honest in this day and age.
I’ve been told that I shouldn’t be “so open” or honest
about my recovery.
I was told this was “bad for business.”
But what good does this do?
The elephant in the room isn’t going away.
No matter how we try and “better” ourselves
or act “above”
Everyone is human.
Everyone has something going on
And . . .
Everyone is recovering from something.
To me, I’d rather normalize (and humanize) the struggle.
I’d rather talk openly
Maybe this way, people might seek help
before they die