Saturday, August 12, 2017

The City I Love

Chicken and a 40 from the corner store
Glass pipes with a rose in it for my gal
Graffiti on the sidewalk from a Pentel
The smell of rotten food on a hot summer day

Homeboy playing Parliament in his 49ers gear
The pigeons all gather for a piece of my tortilla
The ocean so cold, the train is so warm
The dealers ask me "que pasa mammi"

Fog rolls over the hills
I'm nodding in my friends(?) car
Cotton fever givin me chills
Antibiotics and a Nestle quik chaser

I tried to call home but you didn't answer
I tried to fall in love but I have nothing to offer
I have this room and you have a clean outfit
Tap on my shoulder while I pick at my skin

I read a book by William S Burroughs.
I'm the authority on vices and sins.
Let's go record shopping while it's still ironic.
I'll be RIGHT back with your money. 3,2,1,...

A pack of Newports and a dream please
A Mountain Dew to swallow my lies
My blue eyes pinned to the wall behind me
An alcohol wipe to scrub you out of my life

The City I Love


RIP TO THE ONE AND ONLY STAK. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Cassie

my wife loved blackberries.
i had never noticed how they grow everywhere here.
on the side of the road, under bridges, in the cracks in the sidewalk.
you can’t avoid them and i try not to.
they say it gets better. 
that the passage of time erases the loss.
i pray that that is not true. 
i can no longer remember her laugh, or the sound of it.
i can no longer remember the sound her chest made when she inhaled.
wrinkles around her eyes that grinned in unison when she was surprised
the feeling of cold sweat on her nervous palms when we hadn’t seen each other in a few days
her feet shuffling to the hallway in the morning and it’s perfect cadence are all also gone.
they say that everyday it hurts less but this pain in my chest
the feeling that i still can’t completely catch my breath
my terror that this may all be true and the horror that it is indeed
my empty rib cage where she fit so perfectly even on the most sleepless of nights 
are all but the very last reminders that she was real
here with me
not a school boys dream crush dreamt and shaped to perfection on the backs of eyelids
not the beautiful lead character in a story made up to impress my childhood friends
not the product of an overactive underfed tender little love starved ache that lived in my soul until the day that we met
she was real.
beautiful and kind.
slightly flawed in all the best ways.
she had never shot drugs when i met her and i was her first.
i didn’t fight it and she didn’t fight.
it seemed to make sense that she would be with me in that way.
like some weird ritualistic bloodletting wedding ceremony
the blood is the life
her parents say, still say that i killed her
and i agree.
i did kill Cassie.
i killed someones child,
i killed someones love,
i killed my future and i killed my happiness
they say it gets better
and i pray that that isn’t true.
   The writer's father 


This is a guest piece by my bff K Sabatini, seen here. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

No Shelter From the Coming Storm

I can hear breath go in and out or is that the sound of a lost cause? I feel my lungs expand with the ever present doubt that they will fill to the brim with the oxygen I need to survive. I can hear the blood rushing through my ears. Pulsing like an electric shock through to my teeth. My heart beats inside my head like the faint tapping of the police at the door. Yes I can hear all that banging. I barely see the people walking by, gazing down at me. They provide me with a passing glance as they pour a handful of soil into my grave. Walking by, judging my position in life- six feet under, five bags deep.

I feel them slip the oxygen into my nose. Into? Out? I'm confused now. I feel the cold stainless steel against my air as the push me into the back of the ambulance. I see the scrubbed white walls as the wheel me down the hall. I try to reach up but I am shackled to the gurney. "We are taking you into surgery now. Count backwards from 10, 9, 8..."I feel the prick in my arm. I wake up to blood soaked bandages. I feel a tightness in my arm. "Can I call my mother?" I start to tremble from the anesthesia. 

I was laying on the ground, dreaming of him/her/them. Not the ground, like looking at the cloud on your grandmother's porch in the summertime. I was laying on the concrete, dreaming of the afternoon you pushed my hair gently behind my ear. You promised me everything was going to be okay as you squeezed my shoulders. I was sick that morning/day/night/decade. I didn't have the motion to go another step. You gestured that you would come back for me. Did you ever? I didn't leave that spot for hours upon hours, thinking I didn't want to miss you. Believing you would come back with my dope or my money. I believe you never did.

I was trying to find a vein. Here a poke, there a poke, everywhere a poke. Is it worse to have money and no way to get drugs or drugs and no way to find a vein? Blood trickles into my new socks. When I stand up, I see the future. No rest for the weary, no shelter from the coming storm. 

     I took my depression jammies off just for you. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Encounter


The blonde hooker with the black eye reaches for her bear claw while the man in the piss stained clothes shuffles by, headed for the sugar. It's that period of the twenty four hours that make up a day when the brutal realities of life are hidden away from the pedestrians known by normal folk. The darkness veils the stark truth of life on the fringes of the city. The florescent lights of the donut shop are a magnifying glass, revealing what the naked eye generally avoids. As the man fills the coffee cup he pulled off one of the tables with what seems like an endless supply of sugar, I focus on my apple turnover.

"Dude," my friend yells as she tries to fan the smell away from his nose "how can a person live like that?" He takes a sip of his coffee, a watered down hazelnut blend. It is hot, steaming up his broken glasses. The arm no longer exists on the right side. His ego has given way to a utilitarian desire to see.

I point to the clock "that dude is waiting until the liquor store opens at six am. He probably passed out before he could hit the store before they stopped selling..." I try not to look at the man and his predicament. It can't avert my eyes from the wet stain on the back of his pants.

He continues "that dude...that dude is fucked..."

I chuckle to myself. THAT dude is fucked. We are sitting in this donut shop because neither one of us have a place to stay tonight. We are pooling our money to split a gram from the only connect who will come out this late. This mfer has an abscess so ripe, I can smell it across the table. I haven't had a period or a phone call to my family in over six months. Both of us are so sick, we can't finish a pastry, which would be the only thing we ate today if we could actually eat. I touched a dick for my money, he stole from a mom and pop store while they followed him out into the street screaming. Yeah. THAT dude is fucked. Not us.

As the old drunk walks past me to hit the door, we briefly lock eyes. How did he get to this place? How did I get to this place? "You got a cigarette?" he asks me. I honestly don't smoke. As he shuffles out, killing time, I push my food into another circle waiting for my own sweet relief to arrive.



    I am kind of a crazy cat lady. I have a dog too. She is great, just 13 1/2 so she sleeps all day. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

I wasn't born a junkie.

The dog licks the salt of my skin as I feel myself frying in the heat of the midday sun. I would move except I am inside and this isn't really happening. It is just a memory of a day when I stuck to the mattress with my hair matted against the back of my neck with the sweat that only come from a speedball stuffed between two little debbie pies and a flat beer I found from last night. The traveling kid told me his dog was friendly, friendly enough to steal my last piece of fried chicken before I could get the words out to not chew on the bones. I thought I said something but the xanax was talking for me. A lil something about "dkjtyfkuyflui;i" in between wondering if I had lost my ID so I could get my western union in the morning. I had to pee behind two cars. I almost missed my sock this time but I was a bit wobbly. I would change them if it wasn't for the fact that I am four bags deep. The only goal I can reach is scratching my skin to the exposed core of my loneliness.

OH HOW I WISH YOU WERE HERE. There was a time when we promised each other that our love would last- forever? Forever wasn't really that long ago baby, was it? As soon as I pulled that needle out of my skin, all the hellos in the world could not feel as good as this. You kissed me on my dry lips. I swore that I would never do it again (again and again and again). I am better off without you, I tell myself as I think about you walking away with someone else.

I wasn't born a junkie. What made me this way? Was it the vampire that made me- another lost soul that didn't want to experience death alone. They turned me out into the cold cruel reality of love in thirty units. It manifested into fifty now, eighty on a good day. Add the water, draw up the universe and pray this gets me. We are all interconnected through the brotherhood of the traveling spoon, of the constipation, the tiny pupils, the friendly discourse that comes as we wait on the same dealer. Of the artists without a canvas, the musicians with their equipment in pawn, and the frail kid in long sleeves serving cocktails so he can get a fix with his hard earned tips.

I wasn't born a junkie.
I don't need to die as one, either.
As long as the breath goes in and out, I have the capacity to change.

I am sitting here drinking a soy latte next to my cat in the house that I own, on the computer I just bought, and I'm sober. Things can change.



Below is me getting my mic for a feature on CNN on naloxone care packages. 


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Long Night of 1971

 it crawled out of her mouth and into mine. it was 1:43 according to the clock. i hadn’t slept in weeks and couldn’t be sure i had seen it correctly until i felt it over my teeth. in my throat. my stomach. through my ruined bowels. past my rotting guts. looking for my heart and settling for what it found. i thought of her and him and the long nights of no sleep and the pain of heart and the abyss that is life and being born dying and waiting for some breath stealing act of clemency by a god that doesn’t favor the kind and it knew. it knew i was soft inside. “you can’t hide from us” it cackled to my ribs. the worm tumors fed on the seeds of doubt in the pits of my tummy and grew large enough to caress my cancerous soul softly singing  seductively in my ear. my fathers voice telling my mother he loved her. and my atrophied love snickered “we’ve seen you and we reject what you are”. i looked at you sleeping so peacefully next to me and heard you whisper “it’s hopeless” and i knew it was true



This is a piece about sharing space with another junkie by my bff K. Sabatini a San Francisco native as well as a person who has struggled with mental health and substance abuse issues for fifteen years. I have written about him in several of my stories. (yes he has read them).

He has currently logged seven weeks clean. 

FOREVER GLOOM

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Two heroin addicts went out for lobster rolls and a movie

Yesterday two heroin addicts went out for lobster rolls and to a movie. No one dies in this story.

There was a point in my life when every cent went to dope. Every fucking cent. I would sit on the sidewalk when my hustle was weak. I would beg for change (fuck some food) to scrape up enough money for a bag that I knew would do nothing but barely get the sick off. Then I would have to do it all over again. Work was completely out of the question when your habit is THIS BIG. It also would take me 1-2 hour on occasion to find a usable vein. Using was an all encompassing endeavor. This isn't every one's story. This is just my story.

Enter into my life a friend. Now, dear readers, we all know how isolated your average opioid user is, even if they are sober. I am not sure what it is about our taste for the opioids but we are an intelligent bunch that tends to run on the sensitive loner side. How many of us like to read books more than go out or watch a good movie over deal with people. We struggle with the outside world. For many of us, opioids are the initial lubricant for socialization that spirals into never leaving our rooms. At many years "clean" or whatever the term you want to use it, I did not think I would meet a new friend. My friends have died/left/moved relapsed. I thought that game was over. I was wrong.

I made a friend ( a few in fact) at 46 years old when I took the plunge, left my insulated over scheduled world last year. I went on book events for "The Big Fix". I spoke about harm reduction. I got out of my shell. It was scary as fuck but I did it. I got to meet some of y'all around the country. It was lovely. It was inspiring. It changed me. I did not want to be caught in the social isolation bubble again.

Fast forward to yesterday. I went with my best friend to get lobster rolls and see a movie. Seems simple but to be in a place in my life where I can not only do whatever the fuck I want (within reason) because I am not using and have the money AND be able to do that with another human is pretty monumental. For him as well. It was kind of magical really. What was more magical was walking through the city we both love without having to cop anything beside a slurpee.