Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Good Stuff

The first time I tried it,
I wept blood.
Two rivulets of red running
down my face,
then later a steady nosebleed.
I was told this was normal.
I felt great, though.
More awake than I ever had been before.
All my self-doubts vanished,
and that heavy sadness inside me floated away,
and I was in love with three people in the room.

Of course you build up a tolerance,
like with anything.
It takes more and more to feel
so unburdened.
People sneer at your blood-stained shirt cuffs.
Cashiers angrily throw the eyedrops
at you and growl, “Just get out of here, okay?”
Oh God, your mom saw something on the news,
and now she’s calling you, crying,
“You don’t use that stuff, do you?” she asks,
although she knows the answer.
“No, Mom, it’s too expensive,” you say.

And it is expensive!
At this point, you’re not trying to feel good,
just not feel horrible.
But you can’t pay for a week’s supply
and your rent and food and your electricity.
People start talking about you at work.
It’s fine if you’re 20 minutes late for a sick kid
but not if your hands are shaking,
and there’s dried blood under your right nostril,
and the janitor keeps finding empty bottles
of saline in your office trash can.
Maybe your manager will ask you if you need help.
But more than likely
he’ll find some other reason to fire you.
Then you’re really screwed.

You’re not alone, though.
Thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands,
more every day.
They try to warn the kids,
make them memorize lists of dopey slang terms
in their health classes.
The Crimson, O Negative, Russian Red…
It’s just not cool, kids.
They put you in rehabs,
have you sit in a circle and cry.
Talk about your childhood abandonment
and everything you’ve lost
from all the terrible decisions you’ve made.
They’ll tell you
you can make it,
you can start over.
Ask your God for help.
But this isn’t cocaine or heroin or painkillers or meth,
and in between the lines of the research papers,
your death has been foretold.
Cling to the memories of how you felt
when you took it,
but it hadn’t taken you.

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