Somewhere down among the sheets,

between the spaces in loose gravel from nighttime sweats

lies the answer to an unasked question.

Somewhere underneath the skin of things

is poised another wrinkle, adding suggestions 

to the game of chances only played by winners in drag

or posers lost in long hallways.

Somewhere up among the heights of nether

is held packages of days, a fistful of years

soon to be released upon the cold, dark land.

Somewhere you awaken from the same nightmare

everyone has, standing before a crowd

leaning forward to listen, and you with pants at your ankles,

a mouth full of sand.

But the nightmare is real, you are not.

And it’s the speech you can’t remember,

adding salt to the wound,

grease to the pole,



fire to a barrel bottom.


What of it? he said.

What of it? he says.

What if there were the solemn chance of a reprise

to a time, long forgotten but fresh-remembered?

A chorus to a bad song?

A bad song on repeat?

Old onions on ice cream?

Frozen water in the pipes

when all you need is a drink?

Surely there can be one straw long enough

to snatch from the fist?

Or are they there just to tease you for

the risk of un-lived truth?

Relief that the ground will still catch you?

Under-thought high dives into a dry pool?

Over-thought reasons for the same?

Somewhere, around the perimeter, is a chorus-line

taunting from a finish-line you did not paint

in a race you never trained for.


Somewhere, you’ve stopped running to find it.

Somewhere has found you.


Going Down? continued

Concurrent with these disturbing developments making sport of me was a total inability to quit smoking. This has been, on and off, a monkey on my back for many years. Cigarettes had always provided a nice smoke screen (did you see what I did there? Pun intended) for anything actually changing in my life. As anyone knows who has ever been caught in addiction, once attempts to quit become conscious, the noose of said addiction tightens around our metaphorical necks in direct proportion to our efforts toward freedom. It chokes us with annoying reminders of our perceived need for it and then partners with guilt, which in turn collude together with self-loathing; a disturbingly lethal combination of intimidating foes. They all but guarantee an unsuccessful struggle ending in defeat, garnishing one’s cataclysmic sense of self-loathing with the constant reminder of failure.

Smokers are a strange animal indeed. We are a restless lot always on the lookout for any possibility to feed the beast within screaming for the next drag. It affects concentration, goal setting, patience, self-love, self-confidence, relationships – everything. Eventually, everything is built around it. Planning when to “grab a smoke” becomes an all-engrossing pursuit. The most humiliating part of this scenario for me was that my family was completely unaware of my struggle. And I was not about to add insult to injury in revealing yet another issue I couldn’t seem to find victory over.

Prayer becomes especially strange in such circumstances. Praying in the light of an ongoing, persistent issue such as an addiction is a bit like sitting naked on the subway happily reading the paper oblivious to the fact that you have completely lost touch with the obvious. Do I forge ahead with this prayer despite the fact that the whole time I can’t get out of my head the simple fact that I am, simultaneously, considering when and where to have my next cigarette? The elephant in the living room sits cross-legged looking over his spectacles at the ridiculous charade unfolding before him and chuckling to himself, amused at my unwillingness to look up and acknowledge his presence.

It should come as no surprise that the name most often given to the enemy of the good, the true and the beautiful is Satan, which translated means, the accuser. When someone is already in personal combat mode, engaged in guerilla warfare with some overpowering issue, the icing on the cake for such an enemy is to convince such a one that their circumstances will never change, thus paralyzing them into false belief. The result is hopelessness. The torturer knows all too well that the deepest wounds are inflicted not on the body but in the mind. Once the spirit is broken, collapse, control and collusion follow quickly after…