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Author: Michael A.

Trails are not Roads (2000)
Moonlight fed our skin at the base of the looming trees–a conspiratorial sentinel of conifers who whispered each to each in a language we no longer speak or hear. Here below, bare feet upon the forest floor as the mandolin played. Above a breeze strummed the pine needles so they fell as sure and quiet as the passage of moments. Around the campfire, cups held in loose hands as the tongue, stained purple and red, shaped the sounds and sent up voices carried with so many nights down. The white light of the moon upon dark hair. Her face was expectant and sure in the knowing that these moments would stretch on until, like a trail in the deepening forest, they do no more. Trails are not meant to become roads, and when they do they end.

Suburbia (2002)
Men measure lawns so they might not measure themselves. Who isn’t found wanting? To wave at the neighbor with courageous face, the garage door closes as my smile fades. Opening the tool bag, a bottle of vodka felt in the darkness. Removing the top like the loading of a gun. Pull from the opening as the greasy glug-bubbles race trapped to the bottle’s butt, tipped up. Child on the way thinks the man-child. And what can I do? Swell a progress or two? Stacks of paper to critique and the belief that this work will make wordsmiths/them, and a career/me. Entropy is real. Things fall apart. Dog runs in the backyard, wife cleans the house with belly full of babe. Will I be enough? Dutiful, willing, scared.
There are men standing alone in backyards who are looking up into what would be darkness if it were not the moon, stars and even the silent glide of the passing satellites. All is as mysterious as the information sent by those satellites that the few speak who will pave the next and the decades to come. The empty spaces in our pockets had not yet been filled with the dark monolith screens of the era to come. Necks, still straight, soon to be bent in reverence to the smartphone.

The Borrowed Garb (2004)
Sin on Saturday and church on Sunday. Our freckled-faced girl with an inchoate understanding of a parent’s brand of hypocrisy. I might have shrugged and at some point wondered, This is what adults do? Sit in the pews and let the words wash away the evening before. Midnight clock on the wall reflected the jostling shoulders bumping into each, and the couple lumber over to the crib and slur a speech directed at perfection. And why not? People speak of politics and do not vote. They trace stars with numb fingers afraid that there is nothing and shudder at the possibility that there is something.

Adulting (Then)
I am flawed. Envious, jealous, broken and often healed. A Heal-thyself-Physician stitching and removing stitches, and stitching and removing until scars are tougher than the hands that hurt. So this is what I must do? Not show them the version I want them to see but become? The toolbag in the garage has no hidden bottle to numb the times between work and sleep; none of my shame in the recycling bin; no awkward grocery store encounter as I hold a bottle of wine in one hand and a twelve pack in the other. It takes a kind of courage to look through the clear lens of reality without the dark hues of zinfandel and stout.

Adulting (Now)
I am yet another adult face that smiles round the long table. I had stocked the day with treasures, moments of value, so that my store of happiness would be full and a bulwark to face the many lights of attention that would be spent on me during the evening to come. Each interaction around me, I look at in a kind of awe. They are each seeming bird-feeders of joy and contentedness waiting for another to flutter about and feed before moving to yet another. These effortless conversations and I am fishing. A long line stretching from my hands to some depth beneath the floor. I pull a version of me up, hoist it, and it almost fits. I watch as this version of me, now caught and worn, tells a joke, smiles, tries to be witty. When none are looking, I rip it from my frame, press it back down my length, through the floor, into the darkened waters from whence it came. Another version of me caught and worn just in time for a conversation about food. Where have we eaten, a discussion occurs while we are eating. In the eyes I cannot lie.
Am I the only fisher of oneself at this table? This was easier when I could medicate with alcohol. It has been called a crutch but to me it was a filter upon which a mask was placed. An anchor of sadness rises up through the filter and just before this is permitted to slip from the pores upon my face, a smiling mask catches and converts. If the face is smiling than happiness will follow. Pascal intimated that if one were to kneel down and move their lips in prayer, they would believe. Updike wrote about the performance just as Althusser had. We are always reconstituted as subjects due to our relationships with each other and the institutions shaping us.
It does take more courage to do this without alcohol. Of that I am sure, because I can still remember the lightness of being after two glasses of wine and then–

Starlight,
reflection in the window,
well placed innuendo,
the easy breeze of a tete-a-tete.

Sitting and standing as a performance. It’s as easy as lying to another, and with enough I become so light as to float above myself. Look. Effortless. Content to wear this version of myself until the drinks are spent and metabolized.
I have, for extended periods, caught the version of me that fits and stays and is even there in the morning when I rise and move in sunlit rays. But this? This is not that day.
Where do I go? There are times when I feel the light of another spent my way, and I feel both deserving and worthy. Times when I can hear the music beneath the music. Times when I share my own bird-feeder with others.
Maybe all those would-be fishermen of self are at home perusing their walls or backyards. Was I courageous enough to grapple with my own fishing line between two bird-feeders or is arrival just the powerful flow of social currents bringing us to a destination the community agreed upon?
I wish I could explain how I might be tussling with my own line and for a moment I see you there. The light catching your eye. A smile so real that it is I who is, for a moment, fed.

Author: Michael A. Trails are not Roads (2000) Moonlight

Author: Logan

they teach you that drugs are bad

but they don’t teach you how to deal with the pain when you’re sad

nobody warned me it could get this bad

i swear i continue to lose everything i’ve ever had

but what do you do when you don’t give a fuuck

when your minds in a rut

always blame things on bad luck

and how the fuck is my mind so sick

life threw me lessons but it never would click

I thought I figured it out, finally found my cure

but all these pills do is put my mind in a blur

the devil asked me to dance so I said sure

it’s gotta be better than the feelings I endure

i swear it was working I couldn’t feel a thing

didn’t realize all the destruction that it could bring

I hurt people around me i hurt the ones that care

but then without them life became a fucking nightmare

I had had enough so I did something that was rare

I said i’m done doing drugs i swear

this pain is nothing i can bare

then the truth was revealed

everything became crystal clear

the pain will follow no matter what it’s always near

do i give up or persevere?

nothing really mattered the drugs were never enough

and everyone swears that i am so tough

little do they know i’ve been drowning cause life is rough

nothing seemed to stop me even being in handcuffs

i gave up everything, every dream

i was living on the streets without a fucking thing

as long as i had these substances to get me through the night

i swear my eyes used to shine so fucking bright

but now i struggle everyday to even find a light

tryna find something inside me to that I can ignite

but all i seemed to find was an evil gunfight

i’ve been at war with myself for as long as I know

no wonder why it feels impossible to ever let go

I been hurting bad and my eyes always show

eventually I realized the drugs had complete control

kinda like the government and the secrets that they hold

I started to think would i ever feel whole

and can I even reach a goal

if only I knew how it would unfold

i found a girl and I swear I had found gold

her personality shined so bright she was beautifully bold

so tell me how someone can turn so goddamn cold

I loved her so hard I never thought I could let go

my heart was broken but it fell apart a long time ago

I wish she knew my feelings but I always struggled to show

maybe if I tried harder she would still be by my side

but deep down i know she’ll forever be my ride or die

she really is the only one that can make me cry

but I still never want to fucking say goodbye

I’d give up anything even getting high

I mean that with all I have I can’t even lie

I don’t need anything else she does more than satisfy

when i’m with her I feel like I could fly

you really only meet someone like this once in a lifetime

I fell in love right away she needed to be mine

everydays a good day even if we out committing crimes

damn you should see this girl she’s a fucking dime

with her there’s not a mountain i couldn’t clime

when i’m with her i’m always in my prime

the day she left me destroyed me inside

I couldn’t get her off my mind as long as i tried

I needed something strong to make me numb

I would’ve pulled the trigger if I had a gun

what’s a life without my love I swore she was the one

when she was mine I swear I had won, like I hit a home run, if anyone were to hurt her i’d pull up w a shotgun

It hurt so bad I needed something strong

I was so down couldn’t even hit the bong

cause when I did she stayed on my mind for so goddamn long

then one day someone offered me a remedy

they said I promise you I found the perfect recipe

it’ll heal you mentally

way faster than therapy

so do you want the key?

please yes give me anything

I don’t care what it may bring

help me breathe

then they handed me something that would never leave

growing up we learned to stay away from any hard drug

but they must not know the feeling when it goes straight to your blood

that type of rush can’t be beat by any fucking hug

the needle is evil in the sweetest kind of way

the deeply rooted pain quickly began to slip away

this feeling of bliss i need it to stay

yes i had finally found the strongest getaway

even though i kept dying every other day

you’d think that would be enough for me to make a change

but nah I gave the dope man my life in exchange

I turned into a zombie from this game

I would find anything to blame

I didn’t even recognize the person I became

I knew it was lame and I was living in shame

and all the fiends seemed to feel the same

I could tell we were all tryna escape the fucking pain

the amount of lives i’ve had to save is truly goddamn sad

nobody does heroin unless things are really fucking bad

you know your head ain’t right

when you can’t sleep at night

never have an appetite

life doesn’t matter n i’m losing the fight

i don’t give a fuck if I make it through the night

life turns darker and I struggle to ignite

really losing all the light

everybody now notices my eyes don’t shine so bright

if your dancing with the devil just know he will bite

living this lifestyle your guaranteed to lose the fight

addiction is a battle nothing happens overnight

but if you put the work in you can take back your life

cause if you keep it up you’ll soon see the afterlife

don’t you want to feel alive? right now your just living to fucking survive

I promise you can make it through and you’re gonna thrive

don’t let your friends and family have to say goodbye

the pain you put them through is never worth the high

addicts know addicts n we always justify

but take my advice all of your problems will just multiply

and soon enough nothing will satisfy

i’ve lived my whole life using drugs to get by

you’ll have dual personalities like a gemini

now i want you to look me in the eye

i know your not happy and you can’t deny

listen to my words cause i only speak the truth

I wish I could turn the time back to my youth

I promise you there are better ways to soothe

because right now you don’t even know you

still feel so blue from what you’ve been through

stop destroying yourself if only you could see my point of view

just make sure your chillin with the right crew

you’ve been through hell there’s nothing you can’t do

n the real ones will always help you through

forgive yourself you’re only human too

pain is inevitable there’s nothing you can do

but you can grow from it or it’ll control you

you don’t need to fight this battle alone

i know you always try to do it all on your own

I promise it’s easier here try some methadone

don’t live up to expectations, set up your own milestones

  i know it’s hard but it’s okay to ask for help

stop the torture nobody can do it themselves

let people make it easier for you

love and support always helps you make it through

there’s no timeline recovery’s not a straight line

and relapses happen don’t let it be a reason to decline

you still have people rooting for you on the sideline

recovery is a process it’s hard and it hurts

but i know it’s fucking worth it if it gets you out the dirt

no matter where you go your addiction will always lurk

you’ll always be an addict and it’s constant fucking work

but don’t let it define you cause you have so much worth

I hope you fall in love with being alive

you’ve struggled a lot it’s been a long drive

you deserve happiness and some peace of mind

so give yourself a chance and leave that shit behind

Author: Logan they teach you that drugs are

Thanks to Jodie G. for submitting this beautiful poem.

Shame, guilt, remorse,

Could I possibly feel any worse?

Anger, resentment, pain,

Coursing through my veins.

 

Prisoner of disease,

Crawling on my knees.

Please help me, I mumble,

In the dark I do stumble.

 

Looking for the light,

So far out of sight.

Feeding my addiction at all cost,

All hope is lost.

 

Spiritually bankrupt,

Feeling completely stuck.

Unable to hide

Behind my mountain of false pride.

 

Pain is so great,

I begin to suffocate.

Fear mounting so high,

I think I might die.

 

Then a hand reaches out,

To me, one so full of doubt.

Saying “why don’t you try our way?”

Just for today.

 

Shaken, hopeless, and beaten,

I attended the meeting.

Inside I found warmth and laughter,

A sense of being together.

 

One day, one step at a time,

Out of the pit I began to climb.

Trembling along the way,

Hoping for a new day.

 

Then the miracle happened,

The chains were broken.

Freedom and happiness at last,

No longer prisoner of the past.

 

Spiritual connection made,

No reason to be afraid.

The amazing gift of sobriety,

So freely given to me.

 

For this I will forever be,

A grateful addict in recovery.

For all who still suffer,

Just know you can recover!

Thanks to Jodie G. for submitting this