F*ck Sunshine

I’ve found playful meaning

in the sharpest strands of daylight

while they bleached my night tan

into a wholesome red and brown.

been stripped clean of the unwholesome.

The rasping, the choking, the decaying

scent of another moon laced night

spent chasing dragons down the streets.

In the silver kissed necklace of shadows

that roll menacingly beneath the stars

as a slipshod grasp on tenuous reality

falls away, fast as a bat, never to be caught.

Crawled out dusty and beaten by self

into the unwelcome openness of daytime

Where people have jobs and families

go do things and have fun of their choosing.

There’s always a sick, nasty bitterness

surrounding the way I’d look at the crowds.

In those moments when shame carries

the day and bitterness over the injustice,

of wounds septic and worsening, a brain

melting beneath the heat of inquisition.

A Cadillac of contempt would sit, shining

In the corneas of each purple smudged eye.

Letting the self-loathing and concern go awry,

masking envy as hate and desire as disgust,

riding panic and fear out as arrogance and disdain.

Patronizing seconds as the world creaks,

moans its way out of the decadence of night,

quickens into the tittering joy of form alive.

There’s no surface to touch and manipulate

no interface that allows for a connection across

to that other world imbued with shiny smiles

and unbroken teeth not doing unspeakable acts.

In those moments when the sickness begins,

wafting out of your skin to notify and alert

anyone caring to notice of your diseased being,

your lesser than status, your unworthiness.

Those are the defining moments that show

the defying strength and fortitude you want,

when you have the opportunity tell the world

“get fucked, piss off, I make the next choice.”

or reaffirm the skepticism pandering to your

apathetic acceptance of what life has become.

Those are the moments when the shear grit

required to simply gut out the next series

of bad decisions, knowing how much it will hurt

but owning it, owning that the deeper down

you crawl the higher it will feel at baseline.

When you finally disconnect from the grime

Long enough to breathe untainted air

Purified in the radiance of sunbeams

And the wealth of happiness that soaks

Summer days beneath the blue painted sky,

there is a startling awareness, an epiphany,

a closure to doubt and a recognition,

that sobering up is just getting high in a new way.

Barefoot Lottery Winner Injects Crack Cocaine

An ex-girlfriend stole my shoes once. By breaking in through the floor level hotel room window I was in while I was preoccupied with injecting another fifty units of liquefied crack and vinegar. I even came out when I heard the noise. All I was capable of doing however, was to stare blankly while trembling under the pressures of the locomotive that was my heart careening off the rails inside my head. Didn’t even say anything, just stared.

              It was a bizarre occurrence to be sure. I could only fuzzily sketch out how I had l had hefted her bodily not 30 minutes previously–out into the hallway following what was a reasonable argument taking on unreasonable levels. Now she was snaking out the window to my room dragging behind a pair of black and white Nikes that happened to be my only pair of shoes I had brought.

              Earlier that day I had seen my children for the first time in more than a year. At a supervision center I had ridden the buses and trains for eight hours to get to. Just one hour that I paid for out of pocket. They looked beautiful, he was handsome, she was angelic.

              Far more than I could take

              My ex-wife had structured things so as to ensure I would have to return to my old stomping grounds of New Bedford, MA and this dingy facility if I wanted any access to the kids at all. It was the same city I had desperately sought to get away from during my attempts to get sober. Aside from my children, there was nothing there but the grime and filth and needle strewn streets and shit memories and traumas and fuckups and locations and people I didn’t want or need anything to do with.

                 I had won $10,000 on a scratch it a few weeks before, something that I never thought would happen though I had kept gambling on them periodically for most of my adult life. I had started a new job a few months previously as well. I was living in a halfway house and had been there for nearly 6-months, longer than I had stayed anywhere in several years now. Things were upbeat with many reasons for optimism and putting nose to grindstone while enjoying some happiness for once.

                After seeing the kids I broke down. I knew how much of their absence in my life was my fault, both before and the recent inability to clean up my act.

                I checked into a hotel and managed to track down my ex-girlfriend.

                She was doing amazing, clean, signed up for school to become a certified drug and alcohol counselor—she was really putting the pieces of her life back together again.

                I don’t know if I showed up with the drugs to the hotel and met her, or ordered them after we got there. I do remember using the inside of a hardened blue glasses case as my mixing surface for the rocks. It was good stuff, probably should have just been smoking it, but once you progress to the needle it’s something of an end all be all.

                You mix crack with vinegar or another highly acidic agent to break it back down to water soluble form. I used Braggs Apple Cider with “The Mother” because it was rich in amino acids and somehow in my addled puddle of a brain that meant it was better to use for these particular purposes. That and it reminded me of making salad dressing at the home I had once owned.

                Shot after shot after shot, ringer after ringer after ringer. All she wanted to do was cuddle up and maybe read some of the book she was studying from with me.                

                Rock, vinegar, mix, pull-up, vein, red flash, push plunger, go lightheaded, gasp, nearly orgasm, fall slowly when short gulping air, wind up sitting on the edge of the bathtub shaking head to clear the spots from vision and WHUMWHUM from my ears, rubbing quickly inflating arms to try and minimize the swelling.

                Lost in and to a ritual, there was no mind being paid to anything else but the same rinse and repeat exercise as had just played.

                I realized things had escalated rather dramatically when the chocolate cake was flew past my head, She came at me with those sharpened nails of hers, tried to grab the drugs and throw them in the toilet. Failing that, my ears and face were a good enough post to thud into.. Holding her up against the wall so she would stop ripping at my face, getting spit in my eye before throwing her out into the hallway. I was callous and cruel and willfully ignoring the pointed reality of what I had been doing and how it must have felt to watch me self-destruct so viciously.

                Then she stole my shoes.

                I had smashed my cellphone earlier that evening in some bizarre fit of rage over something seemingly trivial. Thrown it so hard against the wall the mental housing of the iPhone had crumpled as the screen shattered.

                I used the hotel’s lobby phone to call a taxi who took me to get a pair of flip flops at a pharmacy and take me to the hospital for the cuts on my face. The idea of just grabbing some first aid for myself at the pharmacy never even crossed my mind. For quite some time I had become accustomed to just going to the hospital when things had gotten to be too much and I was dehydrated, or crazy from lack of sleep, or desperate for another rehab. It was second nature.

                They thought I was there for chest pains after taking my pulse rate. The EKG came back okay and they let it slide though.

                Eventually I made it back to the hotel.

                The wall in the bathroom was covered in chocolate cake, towels were laying all over the floor. I knew “it” was going to fall apart again with a twisting certainty in my gut born of seeing the same thing happen over and over. Different implosions, different actions at least—but the same result no matter what. Isolated, lonely, confused, ashamed and embarrassed, it never seemed to change.

                When I kept shooting coke for the next two days and had to resign my position I was barely even surprised.

Geographic Cure for Addiction and Sanity

Beautiful image of Smith Rock

There is always a wild and unpredictable feeling that accompanies a move to a new area. In very rare instances, that area is not an unknown arena but rather a time tested experiential location filled with either positive or negative memories and feelings.

 

With several cases in point over recent weeks which stand out even amongst the 40+ different housing and city changes over the previous 24 months it strikes me that perhaps I am not alone in these occasions.

 

First, New Bedford – a city built originally on the whaling industry and once the single wealthiest in the entire western hemisphere. It was the New York City of its time. Today, it sits as a sprawling and squalid shadow of its former self. A huge portion of the city hovers under the illegal immigrant status, yet both they and their families are able to regularly and quite effectively work over an already overtaxed system in creative and remarkable fashions. Far from an irregular event is it for a young woman to show up at the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA or “welfare office”) and secure nearly free housing, food stamps, and a guaranteed check on a monthly basis – only to walk out and begin making calls on the newest phone the market has to offer.

 

The city itself is predominantly populated either by the indigent, nearly indigent, or fisherman who fluctuate between those states depending on the last trip and how much was blown on their return to the docks where the prostitutes, drug dealers, and other “entertainment” providers sit with cars at the ready to ensure the checks are cashed promptly and whatever is desired is immediately available at their fingertips. It is one of the densest concentrations of opioid addiction in a state that is under a crises the likes of which has never been seen. The yellow brick road is a literal pavement of syringes, nowhere more than a casual eyeshot in any direction.

 

This finely tuned squalor was where much of the insanity that I ran through following my crack cocaine induced destruction took place. It’s where I lost my wife, my home across the river, had my first new love in nearly a decade before losing her to the grips of heroin and finally seeing what it was like from the opposing side of the table – watching an addict you love destruct, and NOTHING you can possibly do will help. It’s where my best friend went from the consummate and brilliantly arrogant healthcare professional I had met originally became an absolute animal. It’s where I learned how to inject speedballs and began my foray into the truly sickening world of dope.

 

It’s where I went insane for the first time since my years as a teenage meth addict. But as an adult voluntarily living homeless on the streets, refusing to sleep and food in lieu of drugs for days at a time until my body would demand rehydration and yet another trip to the hospital for IVs would begin. New Bedford taught me the real meaning of ignoring tomorrow and living strictly under the immediate need for a fix of any kind. Overdosing and being left for dead under a bush in a bad neighborhood along with the terrible shock of waking up. That there was no light, no memory, no message and just a blackness that was closest to blinking. The initial experience of simply expecting to wake up from death, and the frustration that it seemed that for whatever reason I was not to be permitted such a simple escape from the daily frustration and misery.

 

New Bedford taught me to pawn everything in sight, that material items, even the most sentimental, intrinsically have only a single value – that of cash. If you refused to close out the memory and loss of each component of what you once considered to be your life it would be enough to send you over the edge. I learned to numb even when the drugs were gone and there was only an aching feeling that something was terribly wrong.

 

I learned to expect and understand what would transpire if I called certain dealers who would demand sacrifices of the more physical nature. That there was a way to close it out, embrace the pain as deserved an simply shut down whichever part of my brain should have been screaming no in a vain attempt to preserve a sense of personal value. My first true experience with a jail where no one was there to offer their assistance in easing the situation.

 

New Bedford taught me starvation willingly, arrogance, desperation, abandonment, hysteria, psychotic behavior, willingness to overlook, junkie pride, losing trust, a taste for anger always bordering on violence, loneliness, resignation, degradation, disgust, hatred, shame, isolation, manipulation, lies, betrayal, deceit, hope, disassociation, confusion. It taught me for the first time since I had been in the deepest portions of my meth addiction what it really meant to crave the release of death and how cowardly I was.

 

And I had pride in how my stories always elicited shakes of heads and the inevitable, “you’re fucking nuts man.”

 

So I left.

 

I moved away to program after program, always staying as far as I was able to from a city where it was impossible to walk a street without encountering someone I knew or was known by. Once you’ve been on the news you even become recognizable to those upstanding members of the community who would have had no reason to associate with you other than to comment about how you looked so familiar.

 

Of course wandering through the streets shirtless with blood streaming down your arms from injection sites and asking strangers for needles is not usually considered to be a low profile method to avoid notice either.

 

Aside from the point – I left.

 

Nearly two years later I was offered an excellent job….in that goddamn city. Fresh out of jail, my rationale was that if I maintained several cities as insulation than surely I would be able to avoid the swirling pool of madness that seemed always to draw attempted escapees back in.

 

I was wrong of course.

 

There were a million memories on every corner, a recollection of some obscure event, some half remembered person, a story, an event, a failure, a SOMETHING.

 

Inevitably as always is the case, it became known that I had come back to the area and my phone started to ring again. Even though I was living nearly 10 miles outside of the darkest areas of my past, there was no escaping it. At points of relapse over the previous years there were times when I would willingly spend $75 on a taxi or Uber in order to get to “Brockton by the Sea” (another moniker for Whaling City, or New Beige). Instead of a confident no, it was soon to be a short push into acknowledging myself to be a short bus ride from wherever I needed to be.

 

When the other shoe fell, and the house I was living at asked me to leave, I was forced back into the more affordable region of the Beige – at $500 a month, which was okay despite the fact no running water existed during the walkthrough, sewage had backed up, dishes had not been done in nearly 3-months, a closet was filled with trash bags since the previous week’s pickup had been neglected.

 

But it was okay at the time, because it was affordable and temporary.

 

Even after I saw the Narcotics Anonymous (NA) pamphlet and learned – so I thought – that my new roommate, a remarkably charismatic and intelligent young woman had been in recovery for nearly 8-months. It was thrilling and welcome to be able to share a commonality and bond as we were both working on building up our lives to become more than they had been. There were no qualms about the upfront cash I had given her for my move in, I was back to trusting people, holding onto a naive and woefully childish dream that people were what they said and taking it at face value.

 

Until I was asked not to tell anyone I was living there, and informed that her father controlled her money and I should give him the rent from there on out, and that she really wasn’t working full time, and that the rent was actually going to be $700 as the landlord had vowed to increase it if someone else moved in, and a million other signs.

 

Within three days it was simply volunteered that she was actively using, and that the money I had given her had been spent immediately which was why my presence at the house had to remain a secret. Moreover, would I consider lending a few more dollars and shoot her up since snorting the brown wasn’t cutting it anymore – a fact witnessed when nearly two grams did nothing visibly to change her behavior.

 

She had a dealer that would front and she was into him for several hundred. The issue was resolved initially by introducing her father to her connect and having him pay the difference directly. Than taking in a cat to watch for one of his friends. Eventually the turn was taken as it always is, sexist though it may be, commonly for women and sadly for some such as myself, occasionally for men.

 

The used condom belied the prior night’s lie that it had been a blowjob and nothing more.

 

It was amazing to speak with her father, a man of compassion who had not yet been broken of hope and was convinced that a bottom had already been reached. That if he were only willing to selflessly offer support with rides, money, food, hell – a brand new phone that lasted all of 12hrs before hitting the market – everything would be all right.

 

I saw my mother in him. At least in the earlier years of my spiral.

 

He was likeable, smart, well read, and easy to talk with.

 

His daughter reminded me of myself. A face that was easy to trust, a personality open and quirkily cut with intelligence that wiped away suspicion and confirmed.

 

It was an interesting perspective on how terribly effective what I would consider normal behavior is in ousting others character evaluation and ensuring that there is an immediate thread of trust built. Underneath the easy smile is a raging fire of manipulation and capacity for widespread destruction, emotional scarring, and selfishness.

 

As things fell apart, in retrospect, I have to look at her as a manifestation of what the world must view me as – that’s a painful thing.

 

To shorten this up a bit, New Bedford helped terminate my determination and weaken the walls of resistance i thought were built strong.

 

After so many years away – my family (bless them a million times over) and IIIIMiMiIII decided that it was time to bring me home. Oregon. The one place that called me.

 

3,000 miles from the insanity, the black balling at hospitals and rehabs, from all the connections and memories I was constantly assaulted with. An opportunity to rebuild my passion for life, and reconnect with the individual I was supposed to, and wanted, to be.

 

I nearly didn’t make it. I stepped out of detox with a blood pressure of 170/130, but I had to catch a flight and there was no other option….I took the risk of a seizure, because fuck it – I had one shot to do it, and I wasn’t going to miss it for all the tea in China.

 

At the airport, it crashed in on my (as well as the night at the hotel prior with MiMi). I was going to lose more than just the bad aspects of my life, but the immediate access to the biggest love of my life. I was in many ways abandoning the woman I admire most in the world. Despite my deepest desire to stop hurting her and everyone else that cared I was going to do it again because I was selfish enough to “just go”.

 

MiMi encouraged me to do it as the right thing. That kind of strength is astonishing.

 

I am fortunate to have such an option presented to restart my life, I recognize that.

 

Currently I work serving coffee, beer, and climbing gear at a pay that accounts for a 70% drop. But you know what, I’m happier and more relaxed than I’ve been in years. Climbing again, an old obsession that consumed my life in a very positive way.

 

Sometimes what has to happen is to jump ship and swim to a new shore.

 

Though addiction and mental health issues are not immediately tied to the landscape we occupy, there can be an enormous feeling of relief in leaving behind that memory crusted wasteland to one that offers opportunity to plant new roots in welcoming soil.

 

A geographic is what brought me to New England originally…I arrived with one backpack of clothes. Twelve years later I got off a plane with three.

 

Let’s see where this goes.

 

Much love.

 

-S

Addiction Recovery & Borderline Personality Disorder (from PsychCentral)

This is a fascinating and detailed read highlighting some of the specific challenges facing addicts seeking to recovery and dealing simultaneously with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Great material for anyone interested in the overlapping issues and frustrations in treatment for these two damaging illnesses.

hand-on-glass-for-addiction-and-borderline

PsychCentral Article

Checkmate

chess-drugs-rev-2-2

I saw the sun set in a shallow grave,

And I watched the moon twitch in its cage.

I’ve seen infinity twice,

And I’ve explored both ends of life.

I gazed on the rage in a sea of smiles,

And I studied the eyes of a man who was not beguiled.

I’ve battered my way out of the inferno,

And I’ve walked in the halls where the saintly dream to go.

I’ve left my enemies in the past,

And I’ve brought my friends with my out of the ash.

This universe has done its best to beat me,

It’s learning now that you can’t defeat me.

I play this game called life on a different board,

I hold all the aces,

And all my pawns are lords.

I’ll throw my seven,

Lay my straight,

And you can king me.

Another checkmate in a game you don’t play for free.

Note: Originally written at age 16 when I entered deeper into the world of #drugs and #crystal #meth to be specific.

Hope

Hope is the sun rising again.

The landscape of hope breathes life to we Travelers.

She takes in those who walk upon her,

Brings us to the peaks of our mountains.

She shows us clipped horizons opened to infinity,

Has us inhale crisped air cleaned with freedom.

Where lights cluster above,

Their thousands of points glimmering success,

You’ve made it to join the others,

A star in your own sky,

An inspiration to the next Traveler.

Hope will lead you to become something more,

And the darkness will always give way to your light.

Speed It Up – Spoken Word

VERY quick spoken word – pushing for speed to grab the urgency of mania or #bipolar.

Strange Waves – Spoken Word

Plummet describes in a word the dumb shit,

The result of a life lived from one hit –

-to the next and that second of fuck it.

As intense wash the waves,

Through your secret filled caves,

Telling memories back from where you sent them away,

Until the shores are a littler cascade of broken mirrors pelting your gaze,

Each reflection a question,

Each flash a suggestion,

Of what happened and why,

Where you broke the faith and started to cry.

Each lens is a how of what could have been,

Who you are without all the sin.

No more pills and bottles and rock,

Bags of dope, sacks of coke and the inevitable cops.

Living on streets and the pity of strangers,

Acting devil may care to numb out the danger.

When each shot you took put a pin in your son,

Blocked his love just as well as you holding a gun.

You got loaded and loaded,

Raised finger and goaded,

As your legs washed out at the thighs,

From a tide on the rise.

If not for the merciful care,

From those you punish unfair,

You’d be sunk,

Drifting drunk,

Out to a personal sea in a trunk.

Boxed up tight when you ran out of fight,

Away from the world and your right,

As a man to do your best to make it alright.

And as long as it took,

For you to confess as a crook,

Thief of dreams, hopes and beliefs you forsook.

You can’t change the past,

It’s gone while the onrushing future hits fast.

So you accept the regret,

Live learn love and refuse to forget.

Keep strong in surrender,

Committed to change,

Because in the end you’re not alone,

And are any of us really so strange?

Crystal Meth

Pumped up on that chalky sunshine,

The moon is fading to another vicious morning.

Spent my hours beneath the starlight in the wind,

Lovingly hitting repeat on every action I’d begin.

Glassed eyes and withered muscles ache,

Blood thundering past a thirst impossible to slake.

The ride was hot and heavy to the top,

Until we picked up speed enough to never stop.

Becoming a Literary Exhibitionist

Exhibitionism at it’s finest calls for a complete strip down – but like most nudity, sometimes those watching would prefer the clothes stayed on. Authors must dangle and hope the meat on display attracts the eye. Easier perhaps when your life is wrenched from the most vivid hallucinations of Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson then run through the Douglas Adams’ improbability drive. Prodded with LSD and electrified glow-sticks into the Minotaur’s lair to play. Surely that would entertain?

This is a lifelong dream, a Purpose or a calling that I’ve never been able to just put ahead of everything else. Please share, and thank you for taking the time to browse. Thank you.

IndieGoGo – Crowd Funding Effort

empath-imagery