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i see myself -
unshaven and distraught, at peace with who i am and despaired by a world i saw coming but couldn't prepare for.
i see myself -
sitting in the old house, civil war ghosts whispering through the cracks in the dry red clay. sherman burned this town once and now i get to watch the sun do it again.
i see myself -
the hedges are overgrown and i never stopped smoking cigarettes. the shadows on the walls are mapped out, a mimicry of life in an empty heirloom.
i see myself -
head in my hands thinking about history. The Last Gilded Age. The Second Gilded Age. what good are comparisons if no one's left to draw them? how does the past make room in a world already strangled by its present?
i choke back -
the same addiction that made geraldine shoot herself. it occurs to me that i am probably the last person alive to remember geraldine ever existed. i think that's what drew me to history - i've always had the past living inside me. there's a whole family tree intertwined with my ribcage, like kudzu over tarred lungs.
i fill my -
flask with weedkiller. i inherit an open wound. i try to find my place in a history that no one will ever read.
so basically i've been thinking what the world's gonna be like when i'm an adult-adult. wouldn't recommend it.
Arlo Disarray Apr 14
i don't know anyone
who drinks
like i do

discretely taking it in
little bits at a time

no one ever notices
because i'm never drunk

i'm just keeping it steady

keeping a constant level
of alcohol
in my bloodstream

i knew one person
who drank
the way i do

but he died
many years ago


i used to buy him *****
when he was too drunk
to go to the store
for more
because i knew how he felt
when he didn't have it

i feel like because of that,
i contributed
to what killed him
in the end

and i know
i'm playing the same game
and that he
and i
were dealt the same hand

never enough to win
never quite
bad enough to quit

self medication
doesn't work
but neither has
anything else i've tried

one day i'll die

but for now,
i'll drink
and i'll cry
The knife I take down my throat
To vindicate my thoughts
Of ruinous infection,
Deceives all sensation,
All thoughts, and ceases
To exist myself,
Until the blade conceals,
And the only tell
Of even its unsheathing
Is that of the daylight
Pouring in through
Windows of which
I had forgotten,
To strike the flower
I left out alone in the open.

The scent of the previous day
Made aware though permeation
From the bottles
Left open
To fill the air
With their intention,
But lit candles
Will once again
Flush the awful realization,
As the day sheds colors
To the night,
And when the music hits,
And the temperament
Fills veins with built and bottled-up
Stresses, the candles will smell great
As the chaser takes away the sting
From the blade,
And the flower, unconcealed,
Let without any pressures
Or internal guilt,
Finally able to be myself,
If only for one more night.
38 lines, 281 days left.
Ray Dunn Mar 23
my life is just a
countdown to sobriety—
and i’m feeling great.
it really is smh
Thomas W Case Feb 24
My alter ego,
Thomas, seems to have the same problem I do.
He's in the hospital withdrawing from alcohol, and also has politicians
taking refuge under his bed.
The lice in Donald's Trump's hair
have demanded rice for breakfast
and it's 4:00 in the afternoon.
Bernie Sanders is under their clamoring free medical care for everybody, but every time I put the nurses light on and tell them what's going on they say no one's under the bed. I think they're in on it.  If this doesn't stop the doctors will think I'm crazy, but we know who the crazy ones are. Right?
I wrote this a few months ago, the last time I was in the hospital.
Thomas W Case Feb 19
I'm back in the psyche ward again.
It's my home away from home,
next to jail and the emergency room.
I sat under the bridge the other night.
It was January, and extremely cold.
I was jonesing for a drink—I knew what I had to do.
I had only been out of jail for a
couple of days for another public intox.
I narrowly avoided going back to the can today.
My nut-job girlfriend said,
"Why don't you get us some wine? " "Sure, " I said.
Shaking and sick, I walked a mile to
my favorite store that I steal ***** from.
I arrived, and had a bad feeling, but I
don't pay much attention to feelings anymore.
In and out is always the plan.
A bottle of chardonnay down the front
of the pants, and one in the coat.
I thought I had it. I was wrong.
A customer saw me and snitched me off.
I went with the manager to his office.
A cop showed up shortly afterwards.
I engaged the store-guy with talk of literature.
It turned out he was an
English major.
I wrote down the title of my book,
and slipped it to him. He put the paper
in his wallet. He told the cop that I was very cooperative.
Instead of taking me to jail,
the cop gave me a citation with a
court date on it, and let me go.
Sometimes, providence smiles on me.
On my way back to the apartment,
I was already planning the next store to hit,
I needed a drink.
The cop, from the store, pulled up along side of me,
and said,
"Your girlfriend called, she said she didn't
want you at her place anymore.
All your stuff is in front of her door."
I felt like I'd been run over by a rhino.
The cop said,
"I'll give you a lift, jump in."
When I arrived, there were two loosely
packed bags of clothes weighing around 100 pounds.
There was no way in hell that I could
have carried all that crap eight miles to Iowa City.
I grabbed a back pack, and stuffed it with a pair
of jeans, two shirts, my writing, and a copy of Don Quixote.
I went outside and waved to the cop, then headed towards town.
I finally made it back to the bridge.
I waited to get the nerve to make
my next move—steal wine.
I did it, and with no cork *****,
I opened it with a broken ink pen.
I'm not complaining, it was the needed elixir
and it went down like nectar of the gods.
I drank it quick, it was three degrees out.
Life had to change.
This was getting real old.
Here's an older one revamped.
Thomas W Case Feb 18
What's there to say when
your two best friends die a
day apart?

Greg died crossing the street,
smacked by a minivan.
Tibbs, from some strange
brain quirk.
I did C.P.R to no avail.

They're both gone.
They sailed away.
Gone like the last
spider of *****.
Gone like the songs we
sang together.

Sometimes
I still look for you two.
I turn corners and I half
expect to see one of you.
So ******* alive one minute,
so dead the next.

Both of them
fathers,
friends, and men
of valor.
Iowa City is a
******* place without you.
If there's a Brightside,
it's a brutal winter
and you don't have to
suffer through it.

I hope death is treating
you warm and well.
Your hell was
here.
Struggling for that
drink;
to be okay- to get that click,
to carry on, one more
grueling day.

It's over now.
You're gone.
Gone like the last Dodo bird;
gone like your impish smiles.
Gone like the miles we
trod with bags full of
aluminum nickels.

Words can't express the
mess
I am without the two
of you.
I know I'll see you again,
out there beyond the
purple horizon.
#friendship #death
Thomas W Case Feb 12
I used to crush
lightning bugs on
my face. I thought
I would glow in
the dark.
I don't, although,
my liver has given me
a nice jaundice cast.
Almost Miami tan.
The other night
she
punched me, then called
the cops- blood everywhere.
She went to jail for
five days.
She acted like it was
an eternity.
We ****** last night until
we were raw.
Today, she's a stranger;
self centered and
self absorbed.
I've been drinking Cooking Sherry
to keep from having seizures.
She couldn't care less.
She brought home a
six pack and gave me one
beer.
Oh well,
I knew she was no Iris when
I met her.
I just didn't realize she
was Nightshade.
It's hard to understand, unless
you've been there.
There is a pull to the streets.
I can't count how many dead
end jobs I've held—how many roach
infested rooms I've
crashed in.
The inevitable day comes when
I tell the boss, "*******, I don't need this ****! "
I walk out into the misty
afternoon—I look left, then right.
I drowned out thoughts of the future with
a cheap pint of *****.

I see one eye George on my travails,
he's half lit—living in the woods.
"Don't let the ******* get you down." He says, as he
stumbles by bent, and taking a standing eight count.
Mickey the ****** stops me a
block from my flop-house.
"Tommy boy, I'm sick…gotta couple of bucks so
an old drunk can get well? "
I slip him a five.
He says with a tear in his eye,
"God bless you Tommy—you know I
had it all, I'm afraid the
streets own me now."
"Keep your chin up" I say as
I plummet down the
street, pretending
tomorrow is a decade away.

I climb the three flights of
stairs to my room,
slip the key in the lock,
turn the ****—it opens.
"I love these little miracles" I say under
my breadth.
My three legged cat Walter saunters up to
me—he's white with marmalade splotches.
He does his best to rub up against
my leg—I pet his matted fur.

I passed out in an alley one
night, and woke up to Walter lying next to me.
I think something crawled into
my ear and made a home,
it's been there ever since.

I crash down on my chair,
and watch Walter scratch at
the door with his one front leg.
He hasn't been neutered—he gets the
pull of the streets.
I let him out and take a long swig of
the *****—the potion does its magic.
Life doesn't look so bad,
there will be other jobs, and I still have
two weeks left in this
dump of a room.
A writer needs four walls—yet there is
always

the pull of the streets.
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