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Junkie

In drunken avenues of thought, my friend,
the shattered lane,
in which the heroin declines
the stark heroic deeds,
recedes in time’s uncompromising swerve
to cut the native nerve
and leave us all to ponder
endless whys with their uncertain answers.
In the absence of amphetamines
your drug-induced dreams,
demoted from the delirium
to the daemons of PCP and peyote,
parade down a bleak corridor
where the ‘real world’ imparts its terror
door by door,
as the janitor unlocks and unleashes
one sweaty withdrawal after another.
Drawn through the tight keyhole,
you carry ghosts
on a back
arched with the weight of rebellion
against a world which cared for you
less than the dregs at the bottom of the spoon.
Let us rock no boats
and beat no tempered drums.
But for you one hollowed echo
thunders through the cranium,
calling out for something to be forgotten:
who am I to say,
‘You must remember’?
The haze has taken over
where the dream of better life left off,
where the broken window to the outer world
offers shards in exchange for clarity,
and clamouring with your bloody lesions
through the portal from past to present,
you find this pain less than the pangs of failure.
You fight for the privileged position of ceasing to be,
an accidental shadow
wrought from the impotent tantrum of a 60-watt bulb
as it flickers through its final hour
before it fails… you.
And seemingly the silhouette
outlines its narcotic passage
through the breath-denying chambers,
where you are ever lost
in the avoidant veins of oblivion.
Yesterday was the last day
you remembered anything,
and now you wait in the corrugated corner
as the walls fold in like a concertina
ever closer to that moment
when the smoke-stained stucco
touches you
with a ripping of the flesh
and the acidic scream
of a nightmare given blood and mobility.
Shooting up
for what could be the last time
a cocktail of exits and panaceas,
you read the vomit-stains on the carpet
as a map
to take you home
to a place you never knew you had.
And on this Ritalin road to ruin
the tracks are clearer,
but the way obscured by fistulas of the latest fix.
I don’t know if I shall see you tomorrow,
or if today you are already gone.
In that imperceptible flickering of an eye
perhaps you are already in the arms of Mary,
her all-accepting hair caressing your naked shoulders
shining with a light
from the bright sun of redemption.

(2009)

In New Zealand, between a quarter and a third of all people prescribed Ritalin do not suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). They are junkies who will shoot up half of their prescription in the first couple of days and sell the other half on the black market.

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