Ode to Recidivists


You have to be always drunk. That’s all there is to it – it’s the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.”
-C. Baudelaire

Goddamn the pusher man.”

Roberto tucked his tongue
Behind his upper-lip,
Laid it flat
Then flicked it
Through a toothless
Spontaneous allotment
Contained by
Canker sores,
Plaque and bleeding gums.
He continued the tick
Throughout his speech
As patterned and instantaneous
As a blink, “how much?” He asked.
While peeling apart a torn corner
Posted on his guitar case,
He reached inside the hole
And uprooted the corner
Of a plastic bag-
The contents of which
Glinted like porcelain crests
Outlining an atomic explosion.
“Hold it!” I exclaimed.
“What’s wrong?” He asked.
His meth altered pupils
Anchored for a moment
Inside the silhouette
Of cruel intentions
I recognized a profile,
Familiar but lost to time.
“I’ve been sober for awhile,”
I explained, “This is a mistake.”
His smile gnarled
Like a politician’s grin
And he ceased the exposure
Of his merchandise
And placed it back into the abyss.

I used sanity
As a compass-
Followed the direction
Of rapid awareness
That steadied my breathing
And leveled facial gestures
To straightened lips
And partial words-
Held together by hushed vowels.

It was to his advantage
When paramedics recovered syringes
Impaled inside expired veins, where he belonged
I couldn’t sustain passionate fluctuations
Teasing senses
Infiltrating organs
Like nihilistic tapeworms. He lingered off into the shadows
Motioning backwards with awkward steps
That lacked balance and concentration.

I remember him
When I taste dust
And flick my tongue
Towards nowhere
In particular.

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