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v V v Apr 2019
She told me to
"Imagine a safe place",
a quiet place, somewhere to go
when the fog is at my feet.

But everywhere I went was
crowded with doubt
and a lingering loitering
presence on my shoulder,
come out from the fog to
hurl accusations and taunt.

I can only assume
it's a he on my shoulder,
an enigma,
my father's doppelganger
come to dredge my mind
of all the **** he dished out
when I was a child,

and feed it back to me again.

I tell her I'll need more tools
and stronger ideas.

So she gives me a seat at
the head of the table
where my ****** committee meets,
and a gavel to establish order
or bash in their brains.

She arms my dreams
with weapons and courage,
gives me REM when I'm wide awake.

We fashion a furnace of love,
hot enough to vaporize the
cold darkness pouring into my gut,
customized with levers and pulleys
to push and to pull in the fight.

We tally
Alpha and Beta waves,
trained and retrained,
hard coded messages
sanded smooth by repetition.

       Through it all I give too,
       and what I give is all I can give,
       it is the warmth of what enslaves me,
       and the thought of letting it go….  
       Well.... lets not go there right now.

In the long run I'm not sure that
any of it will be enough,
I am weakened by the war.

But occasionally there
are shiny spots that simmer,

You see,
I may have found that place,
the place she first told me to find
way back at the beginning,
the place to feel safe, although
it isn't really a place per se.

If it were true
I could finally ascend to
where no fog can go.
Where my father's voice
cannot be heard,
nor the ghosts I grew
up with.

A place of love and honesty,
where my furnace would sit idle in awe.

There is a picture of us
on our bedroom wall.
It is the perfect depiction of
all that is safe for me.

I look at your smile
and I see peace.
Nothing can penetrate
your radiance,
you are everything
I've never had,
double layered and
by all of it.

By all of the ****.

I am learning to go there
when the fog is at my feet,
and the ghosts are in my ear.

When the accusations come
I can escape there with you,

and together we can drown them out

if only for a little while.
Recently began therapy for my "issues"  related to PTSD.  Needless to say the therapeutic tools available today are much better than they were 20 years ago.
v V v Jan 2019
The nurse said he
seemed confused today,
with a faraway look as
if trying to remember…

But I know the
look she speaks of,
he's in a constant state
of panic and despair,  

as if he’s just missed the
train and now he knows
there won’t be enough time
To catch the next one and still
make it to the liquor store
before it closes.
v V v Dec 2018
In those first years
we spent a lot of time
in red corduroy chairs,
the ones that came with
the house on Turner Terrace.

I would sit and watch you
when you didn’t know
I was watching, constantly
looking for a crack in
your armor,
for a little snippet of the
***** you might become,

but I never found it
and it never happened.

Your little girl wonder
had me convinced that
the world in your hands
would be safe,

no death blows,
no mean streaks,
love's foundation set deep
never to be undone by
head games or hidden agendas,

and now all these years later
I am still transfixed by
your clarity,
your complete “sheerness”.

You are my priceless
dividend of peace finally paid
from a lifetime investment
in Faith,

you came to me
when Hope had gone
and Grace was silent,

and you love me
when you don’t even know it.
v V v Nov 2018
I can't stand the smell of mutton,
or the texture of liver, especially
after extended time on a dinner plate,

which meant we spent extended
time around an oval table,
my sisters and I with our
heads down, eyes averted,
no sound but the chatter of silverware.

I remember my cousin Scott told me one time that
he put spaghetti in his pockets because he didn’t like
the way it felt in his mouth, he said he’d stuffed it down
and pulled it out later and flushed it down the toilet.
It made me wonder how his pants must have smelled,
but It was something I could never risk because
my uncle wasn’t a drinker, but my father was.

As the youngest of 5 I was
the only boy, and mother said
it was a privilege for me to sit
at the right hand of father,
a place of honor she said,

perhaps in other households.

For me it was a prison,
a daily nightmare of the unknown,
I spent forever in that chair
and was always the last to leave the table,  
constantly burdened by congealed meat and organs.

Begging was useless, reprieve was never given.

On a random summer night
when I was 8 years old
my father announced with disgust,

“You eat like a bird!”

It was the way he dragged out the word
“B i i i i r r d”, so distinct, as if
he could no longer contain his abhorrence,

and once the restraint was broken
his words came fast and hot,
berating me for my
non-existent appetite.

He would have done well to
understand that fear suppresses hunger,
that alcoholism doesn't
allow for compassion or civility,
and when you live with a demon
its not you who’s in control.

I wept,
and his devil burned with rage.

“You are pathetic!” he screamed.

More tears
and then my sisters joined
in a chorus of muffles,

heads bowed,
we endured his wrath with no thought
of engaging or protesting.

Eventually I heard the screen door slam
and one by one my sisters abandoned the table,
escaping to who knows where.

I kept my head down for years.

When I finally looked up I was alone.

The girls were gone and father was off
to drink beer in his air conditioned room,

and mother?  

I have no idea where she went.
v V v Oct 2018
Evidently it was meant to be.
Long before I was born my DNA
sat on a shelf in God's laboratory,
a sticky note attached,
name, date of birth, perhaps
a tiny alarm to notify the lab
of inception.

God doesn't lose things
and God doesn’t forget.
It must be for a reason and
it must be meant to be.

A critical piece of who I am.

I should show a little pride because
as they say God don't make no junk(ie)..

But I’m a little late to the party..

The party that celebrates those who choose to be identified
by a gender other than the one they were born with,
but shames anyone who struggles with substance abuse.

I'm having trouble understanding the difference.

If I were to gather my drug addled friends
and march down the street with banners and signs
demanding the right to openly inject mind altering
substances into my veins I would be seen as
a criminal and a derelict even though my constant struggle
came right off the shelf of God’s laboratory where

my sticky noted DNA sat right next to yours.

I guess I shouldn't care what people think..
I know my rights, and I demand to be accepted,
NO, praised for coming out so bravely,
carrying a new flag, flaunting in the streets,
paving the way for future generations of addicts.

I will take my God given DNA out of the dark
and go out into light,

light so bright you'll be forced to accept it.

accept my sickness!
embrace it!
this is in my DNA,
God made me this way
so it must be ok.
I feel better now.
I no longer feel guilty,
or depressed,
or weak,
or wrong,
or immoral,

No longer do I need to contain it.

no longer do I need to be shamed.

I am an addict and I am beautiful.

Just like you.
The stigma of addiction is as strong as ever. I apologize to my LGBTQ friends for any offense taken to this poem. No offense is intended rather food for thought. I have often wondered why society dictates what is politically correct and what is not... and where good old fashioned morals fit in, and how something that at one time was so right can now be so wrong,    and vice versa.
v V v Aug 2018

Its not easy living with only
the memory of regret.
Regret itself is more robust, substantial,
more apt to stop me mid laugh,
more apt to encourage naval gazing.


You deserve all that I
have given and more,
so much more that
the give that I gave
looks pale.


If only the sun
which you hold
was enough to drown out
the shadows I cast.


I climb a hill and at the peak
still more hills to climb.


I go alone to places you’d like to go,
afraid to let you see the destination,
and where I go I sow but never reap,
while you stand alone with your bushel.
v V v Jul 2018
I have been to where
the lonely go, and I’ve
seen their luring towers,
calling those who
have no hope, who come
from far away to see

if coming was a mistake.

Will we ever know
who doesn’t go?
and what of those that go
but remain unknown?
Perhaps they go at night.

The horror of it.

To not be able to see the end
but still it comes and quickly.
A silent floating moment
in a winter of regret,
a springtime of longing,
a summer of sunshine,
Or a fall to the end

of the world in 7 seconds.

A super cosmic collider of
meticulous destruction.

Whether we stay or go
its all the same,
multi-layered levels of
no one is immune.
No one is immune.

Some spend time putting
things back together,
the spacing between levels allows it.
Others break over and over
and over again,
not enough space for repair

while the pull of the towers,
the flaming red towers and
the fog rolling down
from the west promise silence.

When I stood at the edge and looked over,
the noise was deafening.

The ones without space
cannot hear.
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