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Apr 2014
This morning I awoke clutching your name
with such reckless devotion that it turned to dust,
each letter fell to the floor. I know where you went,
long before you vanished inside of your name,

long before the grave. You sank into your body
like a river, guided by the low light burning
on the horizon. I know how you found us:
the pipe is a beacon. The pipe is a lighthouse.

You wanted to know how to remove the emptiness
from yourself. We never understood it cannot be
removed. It is not a pulsing seed in the gut, or a peach pit
run into the mud. We weren't drug addicts, we said

we were scientists. We experimented each day.
Sent the smoke down into the deep mine of the chest
as though it were a rope with a hook at the end of it
to pull the emptiness back out. We partitioned ourselves
away to the dark piece by piece, we did not remove
the emptiness but further became it.

The mind of the addict is cunning enough
to convince the body it is not dying.
Houdini doesn't have **** on an addict,
he was able to convince everyone but himself
he had vanished. Addiction is the ethereal art
of forgetting that you are still here.

I know where you went, before the syringe perched
in your arm and whistled through the vein
like a steam engine, before the crack rock broke apart
in a blaze of light as though it were an egg hatching fire.

I know what it is to walk down an unlit street at midnight
and have a gun cocked in your mouth. I know what it is
to discover the gun shaking in your own hand.
The most dangerous neighborhood
is the one in my own head.

This is a game of masks.
A Rorschach test of the mind.
QUESTION: what do you see?
Anything I want.
This is the magic of perception.

The difference between an addict
and one who is drowning
is the one who is drowning knows it.
The addict will drink the sea until it becomes him.

Even now, five years sober and when I smell whiskey
from across the room my mouth still waters.
I have not fed my skin a blade for nearly a decade
for fear of what I might let out.
What sleeps must one day wake,
even when you sneak through your own life like a thief.

I having spent whole nights lying awake asking why
I made it and you didn't. I can still hear death pawing
at the outskirts of town, as you vanished inside
the needle in your arm and I swayed
from the edge of a bridge, neither one of us
was any more deserving of this life.

I feel ill to even think it, but I have to thank you,
some days your death is all that stands between me
and a drink. There were days I went as far
as to hold a bottle in my hand,
but couldn't bring myself to swallow
because your name was stuck in my throat.

There were weeks I couldn't walk two blocks
from my door without being asked
if I wanted some kush, some glass, some white,
some snow, some jack up, some jelly beans,
some dust, some rock, some good ****.

And each time I heard your voice ask me,
"how badly do you want this life?
you didn't deserve it then, but you got it,
so what are you willing to do, to keep it?"
Michael Lee
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