Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Getting Clean

Getting Clean

You found me at a party,
somebody else’s drink
I fit your hand.

I could never have been a junkie.
My veins are too well hid,
like thin filaments of ore 
running deep beneath stone;
besides, my flesh shies
from the puncture, from the loss,
rolls away.
I could never be a junkie
except for you.

The first time it was free,
spooned at a fire of smiles and skin,
kind words, hot words in tongues
to me unknown, 
and hands.
got so

After that, I paid.

The disease of you I learned
to live with, crave the dirty needle,
but the withdrawals
contracted, racked me; in  nightsweats
malarial waves of wanting left me

twisting, hanging
fever hot;
you baked my bones,
waited for the crack and sucked the marrow,
let them cool in your indifference till
I screamed 
to have the fire back

And you would burn me then
with such delight,
lick me with blue flame and sweet pain,
doctor me,
         read to me
play for me,
                 tell me your
but I

could never be your junkie
in the end
because I couldn’t
pay for it

April 2011

Image: Flaming Cocktails, by Nik Frey, courtesy wikimedia commons 


  1. This speaks so well to me of my own addicition history-- to the American man-- and a few not so American ones. A powerful and impassioned poem. xxxj

  2. I cannot imagine the pain of this type of addiction, but you portray it in a way that seems so realistic.

  3. An intense and deeply personal write, which makes manifest both the seduction and sorrow of addiction, especially when it's indulged in for the approval of the other.
    A very powerful and evocative piece.

  4. mmm...been there, had my taste but got out the door before it hooked me...both drugs and women...i guess it speaks to either...smiles.

  5. Wow, Hedge, this is painful, powerful,and real. Your portrayal of the withdrawals actually hurts to read. The sucking the marrow line - chilling. And love the ending - when the person cant pay for it any more - in any way. Class Act, both the writing and the journey.

  6. Oh, I love it! The passion that binds us to another is as dangerous and addictive as any drug, for sure, and you've tapped into the pain and drama of that addiction in a way that I totally identify with.

    Things are really heated by stanza 4 and it just gets more painful and powerful from there. Fantastic imagery overall, of course, but I'm partial to the entire 5th stanza. Powerful write!

  7. I've read that the brain responds the same way to break-ups and getting clean. You've illustrated that so well here. An evocative, painful read. Love the baked bones stanza.

  8. Dearie-o, this is amazing. I love the entire thing, but the odd numbered stanzas are especially well done, to me, especially the fifth, screaming to have the fire back again. Love is the drug indeed.

    This burns. And the Neil Young song has always been one of my favorites.

  9. I must be cold because I never let, never, have let anyone have that kind of control over me. And no before you ask I never look to control anyone else either. You can walk with me or not your choice as long as I am given the same choice. Near on 30 years same woman has every day made her choice and I have done the same. Ain't no fool for love.

  10. O that bad bad love jones. Who isn't a sucker for the demon lover whose shadow is cast from within? The Greeks who called wine" the fiery drink of the Black Mother" knew something about dark kisses in verboten places. One depiction of Amor - bad love - is that of the angel Eros flying dowward, wings on fire. Sometimes love is just that bad, especially love with junkies and alkies whose love affair with their needles and bottles exceeds all other possibilitiy of love. Kudos to the speaker of your poem who finds they can only fall so far, who see the Bottom fast approaching. So many never get out of the effortless glide of freefall. A hurrah here for the triumph of life magic over black juju. Love that Neil Young song -- "Tonight's The Night" (1975) is his album-length ode to that damage. Great work -- yours, his. - Brendan (p.s., shouldn't "shys" be "shies"?)

  11. Thanks all. A difficult poem for me--one that never would have seen the light of day without the pressure of Ami's challenge(a poem a day in April) so special thanks to her.

    @twm I'm glad for you. But I learned a lot about the difference between dependence and surrender, and things about myself that I needed to know, so it's all good.

    @FB I know you know what I mean

    @Brendan; Thanks for the correction--my spelling is going completely to hell lately; and I don't trust the squiggly red spellcheck lines anymore because they flag all kinds of words I want spelled the way I have them, like 'nightsweats.' I know you also know all about this one. Yeah--Tonight's the Night is another one on this topic, dyin' out on the mainline--and excellent rock n roll, but I like the way this song harks back to the old folk ballads, simple, with that unearthly fae vocal and just the acoustic accompaniment.Never fails to make the hairs on my arms stand up. This vid is from a 1971 Johnny Cash episode; at the beginning he mumbles "a lot of great art goes down the drain...' true, that.

  12. This could apply to so many things...things we feel we have to have to survive when they are the very things that destroy us.

    Powerful writing, hedgewitch.

  13. Love Neil Young...
    Love your addiction Poem..
    Love is the Drug....

  14. I love the way you open this. "I fit your hand" really conveys the uncaring and ultimately impersonal nature of the drug (whatever it might be).

  15. Talon, G-Man, glad you liked, and all too true what you say.

    MZ--that was the line I woke up with in my head (well, those three lines.) The rest all came from that. I also thought it described that place.

  16. wonderful portrayal of the unassuming power of drugs/alcohol. It seems so innocent yet for some, it is anything but...and if you are one of those "some," by the time you find out it's not so innocent is usually about the time you are at that jumping off place...

    I am so glad you wrote this and that I got to read it :)

  17. @Sheila--Thanks. I'm glad you came by. Just so you know, I was never one of those "some" you refer to--as I say in the poem, I could never be a junkie, and I've never had any major addiction to alcohol or drugs, though I've watched the suffering of many who did. The addiction I talk about here was to a negative relationship. I don't claim to be one who's fought that bigger battle--it's not an honor I qualify for, though I deeply respect those who have fought and continue to fight a lifelong war for their own freedom from addiction.

  18. I understand. Whether the addiction is drugs, people, money, relationships,etc. the battle is always tough :) Hope you are having a great weekend.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats