empty footsteps

had a run in with a neighbor who is a heroin addict
showing off the tracks on her arms
and it really effects me in levels of frustration
and helplessness — i think how we have our roads
in life
and that is one that once you go down it — can’t
turn around and i think about how all it took

in high school they showed us a video
yes it was the “if you smoke pot it is a gateway to heroin”
but what i took from it was just don’t ever do heroin
because they showed what happens to them with the withdrawal
and to a young teenager it really didn’t look like a fun time …
i would bet that not a single one who saw that movie
ever went down that road ………
was sort of like train-spotting but not as long

yet when you come up against an addict
it’s very hard to feel sympathy
lying, cheating, stealing …. all that becomes part of the package
and it bothers me to see spirit so warped and tormented

i took time to hang out with the party crowd
i went to gatherings and mostly noted the numbers
and the varying degrees of desperation
there was never much ever, though — that brought me
to feel for the certain class or type and i don’t know why
it’s like i hate them for being weak
for being fooled
for being sunk into these worlds of escape that
involve a never ending path of destruction for themselves
and those around them …

and thing is i know the ‘right’ thing is to feel sorry for them
but i can’t
i don’t know what i feel because it is very hard for me
to even consider hard core drug addicts as human
perhaps it’s the disconnection
or maybe it’s because it’s like talking to a walking corpse
or like facing a rabid dog
every single nerve screaming out
“danger!”
and you find your face going to steel
and the mind understands every single …. and i mean EVERY single game
they play
it’s like a broken record that never stops

and i don’t want to hate
i don’t want to see a human life as useless
because i know every has its circumstances and every path contains its
elements of choice

yet still ……….. i think of OZ and poppies ……
think of how the most that arose in the Americas was tobacco
and maybe peyote and how they were smoking opium in china
for time out of mind ……..

how the two continents are at odds
and i think about our attachment to the land
how where you are decides your fate

and i wonder if there is such a thing as poison
or is that just a word for determined refusal
the setting off
maybe only distance ……….. because i do feel sorry
for those sunk into these worlds
but i know that makes you a bigger fool than they

it’s like i wish some things had not been discovered
and it is the experimenting mind that caused the harm
so where does guilt lie?

how do you take something backwards and uninvent it
how do you uncook the brains that are baked
how do you look a heroin addict in the eyes
how do you find any part of any soul that ever was

….when there’s nothing there

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2 Replies to “empty footsteps”

  1. I lived in WA State for a time before I started college and I worked in the kitchen of a ReHab Center for about a year. We saw all sorts come through the food lines, but the majority of them were heroin addicts. I hated having to go to the Unit where there were patients going through withdrawals, because you could hear them in their rooms, screaming about bugs or just whimpering and/or vomiting. Most of them were in restraints. We had to leave the food trays in their rooms and then come get them a couple of hours later. Most of the time, those trays were untouched. There was one woman in particular that I remember, and your description of like looking at a walking corpse or rabid dog is absolutely correct. She had tracks in so many places, her eyelids, under her fingernails, so many other places because the veins in her legs and arms were just shot to hell. I felt pity for her, but I also understand what you mean about that feeling of disgust and contempt…and you’re right that it’s hard to undo the damage. Very few make it out of the trap and so many fall right back in once they manage to escape, at least in my limited experience. That one woman…she would finally get out of the Center and a couple of weeks, she would be right back inside. I came to think of heroin as a kind of demon, honestly. And without something else to substitute for it in order to exorcise it, it’s unlikely to get away from it and it WILL kill a person, eventually.

    1. I agree, Dragon…so very little that can be done. As far as mood altering substances you would think there would be understanding that no ‘high’ is worth that price. I suppose it is contempt, though I wince at that strong a word. Can’t imagine working a center like that….nightmarish. and all too similar to mental health facilities where the demons are unknown…..I too have found that considering the ‘possession’ as demonic in nature is an easier way to perceive effects. After knowing an addict friend years ago found myself considering all abused substances as a type of demonic entity…because the individual signs away their control.

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