Taking Drugs to Stay Sober

I arrived, half hungover and half drunk, to my doctor appointment; my skin felt hot and dry from the long shower I’d taken to rid myself of the stale smell of a days long binge. During that appointment, near the beginning of 2021—on the 21st of January—my primary care physician prescribed me Naltrexone, a drug meant to help me stay sober. I’d scheduled that appointment with the sole purpose of asking him for that prescription. Yet a few months prior, I’d scoffed at the idea of “sobriety drugs.”

Me and Alcohol

I experienced my first “drunk” at age 15. My brother and I found a plastic bottle of vodka in the cabinet above the refrigerator. Our father and stepmother rarely drank, and when they did drink, they rarely chose hard liquor; my brother and I assumed a small amount of the vodka would not be missed. We made ourselves a drink. We measured out two ounces in one glass for him, another two ounces in a glass for me—we topped off the glasses with cranberry juice. The moment I felt the initial warming effect, I thought that erroneous thought, which is so familiar to a substance abuser: “My euphoria will increase exponentially based on the number of drinks I have; limitless drinks = limitless euphoria!”

As I let the last of the liquid from my first drink drip onto my tongue, I tried not to notice my brother’s glass, clasped comfortably in his hands, still half-full. I told my brother I wanted to make “just one more” drink, acting as if the idea were modest and mundane. My brother nodded only half interested. Completely content without a second drink, he left me to head off to the kitchen alone. I measured out another two ounces into my cup—a third ounce directly down my throat. That second drink was technically my last drink that night, because I found enough excuses to sneak into the kitchen and take swigs straight from the bottle; A nip from the bottle doesn’t really count, right? Or so my thinking went.

When my brother and I first discovered the bottle, it was an unopened pint. Save for the two ounces my brother poured into his own drink, I consumed the whole bottle. I ruined my mattress by vomiting on it, and learned that pancakes are actually a terrible hangover breakfast.

In hindsight, my alcohol abuse started with those first two ounces. When I drink, I never willingly stop at one or two drinks. Either the alcohol runs out or I black out—no in-between exists. I did not have the opportunity to fully realize this until I turned 21 (the legal drinking age in the U.S.). I’d like to say that, once I recognized a problem, my willpower gave me the strength to simply say no to a first drink—which is the only way to say no to all drinks—but that is not my sobriety story, and it never will be.

I thrice tried Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), went off on my own with Rational Recovery*, and even found myself in a few mental health programs. I found some respite from my drinking through these programs, but none of them could quell the inexhaustible siren of my alcoholic brain, tempting me with the song of “just one last binge; and this time, I’ll do it right.” The longest I white-knuckled through sobriety, while participating in these programs, was barely over three months. As of the day this blog entry is posted, I am 272 days alcohol free—just over nine months. What’s different now?

I take prescribed Naltrexone.

Yes, You Can Take Drugs to Stay Sober

I assume it’s obvious, but I’d be remiss not to mention that Naltrexone, and other anti-substance abuse medications, do not and cannot get you high. Naltrexone works primarily by decreasing a person’s cravings for alcohol and vastly reducing a person’s ability to experience euphoric effects while consuming alcohol or opiates. This medication does not completely block the body from processing alcohol; you can still get impaired. And this “all the impairment with none of the euphoria” effect makes the drug, for me personally, even more helpful.

Image getting drunk, but you don’t feel relaxed, or elated, or friendly, or like your singing voice is leagues better than you know it actually is, but you’ve still lost your ability to drive a car—pointless, yes? And pointlessness is the point of Naltrexone. Knowing you cannot get drunk forces you to cope with life through other avenues, helping to break the habit of turning to alcohol for every celebration, disappointment, and prosaic life event in-between. For this reason, along with the non-addictive properties of the drug itself, Naltrexone is a common prescription meant to help those dealing with substance abuse problems. But it’s not the only medication of its kind.

If you’ve heard of any of the sobriety assistance medications, you’ve likely heard of Antabuse (disulfiram). Different from Naltrexone, this drug transforms alcohol into more of a poison than it already is. To put it crudely: to take disulfiram is to ingest a serious toxin, one which happens to be missing the key ingredient to activate the poisonous effects. That key ingredient is, of course, ethanol (the chemical name for the type of alcohol that’s otherwise safe for human consumption). Those who drink—even trace amounts—with disulfiram in their system may experience vomiting, mental confusion, blurred vision, hyperventilation, tachycardia, and a slew of other agonizing symptoms.

A negative critique of disulfiram is not my intention. The fact that disulfiram can send you to the ER after half a drink is why and how the medication works. It takes the long term dangers of alcohol abuse and turns them into an immediate, physical concern. Disulfiram, and others like it, are serious medications—but serious conditions must be addressed with serious treatment options. If transforming alcohol into a pointless and/or imminently dangerous pastime is the most helpful option for any one individual, why allow any potential stigma to prevent that individual from accepting that life saving help?

Sobriety Over Stigma

Years before I received my prescription, I’d learned about drugs that helped with sobriety. I’d never considered researching more about such medications, primarily because I judged being on drugs for the purpose of sobriety to be hypocritical. Undoubtedly, people would and do hold such views, and understandably so. However, after I failed dozens of initial attempts to quite drinking, I cannot ignore that sobriety medication was, and so far is, the only external help that has kept me sober.

This is painful to say, but losing friends, losing jobs, A.A., Rational Recovery, two intensive out-patient programs, and a host of experiences I’ll leave out to avoid the need for trigger warnings, did not keep me sober. At best, I have only ever been able to achieve a vague, “half-sobriety”, in which relapse (I see in hindsight) was practically inevitable. I say, without hyperbole, that my “rock bottom” is death. It’s critical that I embrace whatever best helps me to live clean—and this medication is what’s kept me fully sober.

Perhaps some readers were unaware such medications existed, or perhaps (like me) have avoided exploring these medications further, because of perceived stigma around “taking drugs to stay clean.” I’m not a physician and will not claim to know what options are best for others, but Naltrexone offered me the ability to avoid consuming alcohol. Perhaps you’re repelled by the idea of being unable to manage your substance abuse problem under anything other than your own willpower. But Naltrexone did not replace my willpower; it’s supplemented it. I do get cravings, but I have the power to proactively say “no.” I have the option to drink if I want to, but Naltrexone helps me say “that’s not the path I’m taking today.” I have the opportunity to strengthen my own willpower.

If you’ve avoided considering a sobriety assistance medication, I encourage you to rethink that avoidance. People say the only method of dealing with a substance abuse problem is to “just quit.” Others say “A.A. is the only way” (pardon the excessive rhyming). These work for some individuals, but those people are not heroes, and you are not any weaker because “just quit” or A.A. haven’t worked for you. Whatever works for you is what’s right for you.

Sobriety is a wonderful reality, and it’s worth considering any option that might help you live that reality.

 

*My intention is not to disparage A.A., Rational Recovery, or any sobriety focused program. People find long term sobriety through these programs, and that’s always worthy of recognition.

Codependent

A poem loosely inspired by “Instagram Poetry,” (IP) in which only one emotion or idea is presented, and only briefly. The point of IP, as far as I can gather, is not so much to explore the emotion/idea in great depth, but simply to evoke that one emotion/idea, and get it to linger in the mind’s eye.

I’m not sure I love the phrase “Instagram Poetry”, but I do think the concept is worth exploring. Beneath the Instagram version, I’ve included a reworking of this poem that I would not consider an IP work. Which do I like better? I’m undecided.

Codependent (IP Version)

On a sticky, blurred-horizon Summer’s day
You are the glass of iced cold lemonade —

AndThe
Thirs
tClut
chin
gMy
Thr
oa
t

 

Codependent (Non-ip version)

On a sticky, blurred-horizon Summer’s day
You are the glass of iced cold lemonade —

AndThe
Thirs
tClut
chin
gMy
Thr
oa
t

AndThe
Sweat
From
Brow(Or
Glass)
Dri
ft
e
d

Into liquid, and diuretic,

both

* * *

Cover Image: “Nitrogen-Fixing Nodules on Soybean Roots” by Bo Ren (edited by Daniel J. Nickolas)

As Me, A Dandelion (a villanelle)

The Dandelion is praised as a flower of medicinal properties and simplistic beauty. The Dandelion is abhorred as that perennial weed, with a stubborn root, from which your yard will never be free. What strong and vast differences of opinion, and yet the little dandelion never stops to wonder if it ought to be concerned with what we humans think of it.

*

Beholder, weed or flower in your sight?
To pluck, to poison (simple Sunday chore)
Yet to bloom is forever its own right

On new genetic farms, a scentless blight—
A child’s gift every mother will adore
Beholder, weed or flower in your sight?

The sprawling valley breathes a seed so slight,
Which drifts into dark woods of ancient lore;
There to bloom is forever its own right

Among the feral blossoms in bleak night
The fervid plume of color is no more
Beholder, weed or flower in your sight?

And still the petals reach for dawn’s new light
To make this one true life a paramour
Here to bloom is forever its own right

“Now let the sunbeams come of praise and smite
Water me with how you love and deplore
Beholder, weed and flower in your sight—
Here to bloom is forever my own right”

*

Cover Art by Mika Falkienhorst

Three More Frivolous Haikus

The beautiful challenge of Haiku is attempting to find one, and only one (there’s rarely room for more), poetic image or moment, and conveying that image concisely. The first Three Frivolous Haikus post was more comedic and playful, but I wanted to try and discover a few, “more serious” Haikus.

Enjoy the gallery:

1. The Artist

The mark of true art
Is the rough, dead-cell callus
As much the soft heart

.

2. Snuff Out

Death of a candle
Embers and soft smoke, darkness—
Do the stars live so?

.

3. For Leviticus

Oh how masculine
To intertwine in the sin
Of a bearded kiss

.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Three Frivolous Haikus post without a bonus German haiku. I won’t ever stop trying to trick the world into learning a bit more German.

4. Das Wörterbuch

Hüter der Schätze
Sprungbrett zur Offenbarung
Reiches Wörterbuch

.

Englische Übersetzung / English Translation

4. The Dictionary

Keeper of Treasures
Stepping stone of prophecy
Rich dictionary

.

English is my first and true beloved, but I find German to be the more poetic language. I here translate “Reich(es)” as “Rich.” The translation is fine, as Reich means wealthy, opulent, lavish; but subtlety is still lost, as “Reich” also implies Empire, Kingdom—an implication I love, but which is lost in English.

(On the other hand, maybe I’m just a lousy translator.)

Ode to Cerebrum and Its Lover, Curiosity

Let the heart grow fat on poems and odes, but know it is the brain which cooks up all those verses.

For centuries, we’ve give the heart much symbolic credit for containing the essence of who and what we are. As poetic as the image of the wandering, loving, jealous, wrathful, cold, aching (etc.) heart is, I have never considered my literal heart to possess much influence on who I am. That honor goes to my brain—electricity and all.

The brain is nearly everything we are. The memories, the interests, the loves are all stored (albeit often haphazardly) in the brain. It is mein wahres Ich—the true, primal, transcendent self.

 

Ravenous Wendigo, a hunting beast,

Preys on paradox and gluts on wisdom;

Our tooth and claw senses let the mind feast

The five in tandem, primal and winsome.

The distance of the siren stars, a cage,

Grounds the reacher’s hand, yet fingers still pry

—defy The Doubt’s force, we say—

Break chains, set free curiosity’s rage

Its hunger for the Unknown’s flesh; now scry

Observing eyes, trans-matter’s lightning grey!

*

He slumps on a cow-hide sofa, don’t mind

The slick, sticky feel of sweat in wet heat.

She counts loose pocket change, hoping to find

A Canadian dime to break the beat

Of repetitiveness on her day off. 

Sweat drips—one more dollar—creak of leather

“Is life smaller now, to you?”

Through the window, unseen, a fervid moth,

Meteors blaze like a Phoenix feather; 

But in that house, all colors lost their hue.

*

What is the core of Heart if not the mind?

Not the unmoving citadel of gods

Nor ancestors screeching in darkest fear 

Not an electric flux toward truth inclined?

Discovery like lightning to the rods

From cloudbursts to touching the atmosphere.

—An uncut diamond is dull—

What use is a strong spine to unbound papers?

Meteor—infant—thinker—naked skull

Yet to know it’s we who are the makers!

*

1564B3FF-A8FB-41E9-9047-D97BE1DCB9F5
CGI Neural Network Map of the Human Brain

From Where Tomorrow Calls

An experimental poem meant as a simple, unassuming biography about anybody. As with life, the poem is not as constrained as it first appears. Nothing prevents a reading of the stanzas in any order—from right to left or down to up; let the stanzas be read from last to first or odds before evens!

Life branches, and while limits control how we can live our lives, we nonetheless have, I hope, more choice than we might initially understand. And depending on our choices, the ending of the story will change—certainly some stanzas make a happier ending than others.

 

A man runs
from or toward
or simply to run 
an unknown

Muddy shoes, frayed
damp with cold
a gift from her,
forgotten, outgrown

Passed the moon
to morning blood
from rising Sol,
a
ncestral stone

 

Blood on wool socks
his pace he makes
trekking a path,
leave it shown

Run man run—
scent of hot sweat
furrowed brow 
heartbeats atone

Leave no breath
unbreathed by moon 
or sun; pant and run
intertwined, or alone

 

Cover Picture by Keith Negley 

Virtual Masterworks: Are Video Games High Art?

Derided as the ultimate brain-rot, vilified as a precursor to violent and antisocial behavior, dismissed as a fad doomed to go the way of pogs and side-ponytails, video games built the controversy that defined our cultural transition into the new millennium. 

Despite the slew of allegations leveled at video games, they did not become the cultural poison legislators in the 1990’s warned they would. And not only did video games fail to doom society, but their quick evolution from computerized curiosity into a prolific medium of entertainment has proven that video games are here to stay. Coming a long way from thin rectangles paddling a digital ball from one side of a television screen to another, video games continue to grow more visually vibrant and deeply narrative. With the backing of big-budget studios or the care and passion of indie developers, the world of video games is now as diverse and complex as the film industry. And innovation in the video game industry is still booming!

As video games continue their prolific rise into the modern zeitgeist, important questions rise with it: do video games contain the potential to be more than simple, innocuous entertainment? Do they offer something unique? Could they be a new, great medium of Art?

The Artist and Audience, One At Last

Extensive overlap exists between various art forms, yet each type of art offers an experience other forms of art cannot achieve. The Novel offers the unique ability to create worlds within one’s imagination while providing deep glimpses into character psyches. Film expresses narratives by taking control of the visual aspect in a way no other art form could. Animation brings previously impossible visuals into our reality. For this reason, new art forms must offer something no preceding art form could*.

No matter the type of art, a stark separation has existed between artwork and the viewer. Attempts to blur this line are not uncommon—theater in the round, choose your own adventure novels, etc.—but all, save one**, fell short of achieving true interactivity. And that’s what video games uniquely offer: the ability to let the audience literally inform the narrative by interacting with it.

Before video games, theater and film had already combined visuals, narrative, and music into one experience. However, audience participation is passive; the viewer watches, allowing the narrative to unfold in front of them. Video games take the marriage of visuals, narrative, and music and permit the audience to1F219131-01BA-4BDC-BF98-4775C6AE86BC experience this marriage actively. So actively, the audience is now in control of how the story unfolds. The line between creator and audience blurs, and the desire of the viewer, to be part of the story-world they’re experiencing, is at last accomplished. And while video games are improving on this active narrative experience, storytelling is not new to video games. Take for example the original Silent Hill trilogy: three games with exquisitely told stories, able to tackle difficult subject matter like loss, guilt, and identity in unique and memorable ways—the first game was released over two decades ago in early 1999! Even more simplistic games still have narrative themes; isn’t the original Sonic the Hedgehog trilogy for the Sega Genesis “about” saving the environment from destructive corporate entities? If not, that story is certainly easy enough to read into the Sonic games. And if stories can be so easily read into a 16-bit game, then storytelling must be inherent in video games.

We humans love stories, and love our imaginations; for these reasons, I personally believe the written word will forever be humanity’s greatest method of storytelling; here are the words, carefully chosen, let them unlock and release the deep subconscious of an imagination you didn’t know lie inside you—simply beautiful. But, I admit, I must be careful here. I cannot deny that games like Minecraft, though not narratively complex, unlocked the creative imagination of millions around the world. The more advanced video games become, the more power the player has to create and manipulate the characters and environment. Perhaps, just as movies are an evolution of theater, video games will prove to be an evolution of the novel; I can conceive of a future where video games are both narratively complex and inspire the imagination in a way books currently do, perhaps even becoming a new tool of education.

The Oregon Trail 2 and the Next “Edutainment” Renaissance

C763E533-C6CC-4953-BAAB-009756340C95In 1985 the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) published the classic edition of The Oregon Trail, an adventure game originally meant as a teaching aid. This game birthed the famous “you have died of dysentery” meme, as well as a handful of sequels. While the original game experienced great success, it’s 1995 Full Motion Video (FMV) sequel, The Oregon Trail 2, took the world of education by storm. The Oregon Trail 2 not only experienced success on home computers, but the addictive game play and historical accuracy*** soon made the game a staple of elementary school computer labs. The game achieved such ubiquity, and so revolutionized the concept of educational games, that the “edutainment” (educational entertainment) genre became synonymous with the mid-1990’s to early-2000’s era. The edutainment genre has since experienced a stark decline in popularity, but not for lack of efficacy.

While the investigation into the true benefits of educational video games remains ongoing, the available research is promising. Research from New York University found that educational video games motivate students to learn about subjects in which they otherwise show little interest—exciting news for students learning the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, as games may help spark a passion for these fundamentals. Furthermore, these studies found a strong increase in subject mastery among students who played educational games together with their peers (whether competitively or in “co-op” mode). The implication being that video games might help students with social interactions. And the realm of possibility continues from there.

2019 research from Iowa State University indicated increased creativity from students who played video games as supplemental tools. The findings indicated such promise that researchers concluded, “it is important to not disregard the potential video games have as engaging and adaptive educational opportunities.” And playing video games is not where the creativity ends; because video games incorporate several fields of art and science—storytelling, writing, graphic design, computer programming, etc—the building and programming of video games could be an excellent and concise method of allowing students to explore and learn about multiple fields of possible interests simultaneously.

Beyond the student, video games pose a great benefit to instructors. Imagine a chemistry class where students are allowed to perform dangerous real world experiments, but where the risk factor is zero as all the chemicals are digital. Imagine an art class where fiber-optic paintbrushes and a digital canvas accurately depict brush strokes and color variations of different paints—egg tempera paints in the classroom at last (more or less)! Students could explore and experiment with painting, with low material costs to the school, as a digital tube of paint never empties. 

Granted, my two examples in the above paragraph are decades from reality, but the study of video games as a supplemental tool for education is positive enough to invest in a second renaissance of edutainment games. The gamification of education might allow a beautiful combination of artistic expression and educational material into one experience—a giant leap forward in offering students the best opportunities possible. 

 Illuminating the Soul of Art

If video games possess the potential to educate, is it far-fetched to infer that they possess therapeutic abilities as well? If they can help us learn about physics, language, and history, why couldn’t they assist us in learning about ourselves? A quick aside: I would be remiss to ignore the reality of video game addiction; it’s real, and is often an indicator of deeper issues, much like other addictions often are. However, if we dismiss video games simply because they can be abused, we miss out on their positive psychological influence. To clarify: the novel A Catcher in the Rye inspired Mark David Chapman to shoot and kill John Lennon. Does this mean novels are inherently bad? Certainly not.

Despite the old axiom “video games rot the brain,” psychology is discovering that the opposite might be true. Simple puzzle games like Tetris, Columns, and even Angry Birds are known to reduce stress, alleviate anxiety, increase spatial reasoning, and improve cognitive function. But more recent research by the American Psychological Association (APA) suggests this may be true of all video games—even the violent ones that induced moral panic in the 1990’s. This research by the APA is fascinating, but perhaps even more intriguing, these findings of positive psychological influence are being validated by everyday people across the internet. People are sharing deeply personal stories about how video games improved—and in some cases saved—their lives.

Let’s take for example the personal essay by Adam Wright-Johnson, Dark Souls & Me: How Dark Souls saved me from depression. That subtitle ought to intrigue anyone who is unfamiliar with, or only a very casual player of, video games—it certainly caught my attention. In the essay, Wright-Johnson shares deeply personal and traumatic life experiences, and explores how the action role-playing game Dark Souls helped him to cope and work through these traumas. Do not be misled into thinking the game only provided an escape or a mild relaxer; when speaking of the positive impact the game had on his life, Wright-Johnson has this to say: “Nothing has helped me more. Not love, not friendship, not other escapism…it’s Dark Souls that saved my life.”

A6564805-749C-488F-89B3-8011876CB8B8If you’re unfamiliar with Dark Souls, as I was before reading Wright-Johnson’s essay, you might assume Dark Souls is a narrative about trauma and its after-effects. But we get a surprising revelation around the midpoint of the essay, which I would argue demonstrates the artistic nature of the game. Halfway through the essay, anticipating the reader’s question how does this relate to you? Wright-Johnson answers: “I’m sure you’re wondering what any of this has to do with depression, and I can tell you: Nothing. Nothing to do with the actual narrative has any mental health metaphor or allegory at all.” But he finishes the thought with this: “The experience of playing Dark Souls, however, certainly has something to do with depression.”

To find out exactly what Wright-Johnson means by that last line, you’ll want to read the essay. Here, I must point out that Wright-Johnson just described exactly what we expect art to do: be deeply meaningful, personal, and relatable, regardless of whether the content relates to you directly. How absurd to claim that a person cannot enjoy Shakespear’s Hamlet unless they are struggling with indecision, or that they cannot appreciate the classic horror film Rosemary’s Baby unless they have fears about parenthood. Great art, whether with narrative or with the evocation of emotion through sound and visuals, always conveys meaning beyond the sum of its parts. Through Wright-Johnson’s essay, we see a beautiful and touching demonstration of a video game saying something beyond the sum of its parts, and helping its players explore their own being.

Conclusion

Through much of the history of video games, and still today, this relatively new form of entertainment has been viewed as, at best, a casual waste of time. But over and over again these interactive adventures prove they have the potential for far more than the creators of the Magnavox Odyssey (the first at home video game console) could have ever imagined.

Video games possess the potential to blur the line between viewer and artist, to improve education, and to foster self-exploration. The time has come to embrace video games not just as the future of entertainment, but as a significant aspect of the future of art. 

 

Footnotes:

*I do not mean to disparage any art form, or imply that some are better than others. The fact that every art form has limits, yet can accomplish great feats despite those limits, is part of what makes art special.

** Role playing adventures, like Dungeons and Dragons, have achieved interactivity perfectly. But this does not reduce the uniqueness of the video game, as D&D players arguably have more control than the Dungeon Master. Video games, like the novel or movie, remain an experience of the artist to the viewer.

*** The Oregon Trail 2 “Historical accuracy” is a relative here, as TOT2 leaves quite a bit of history out of the game, and is thus not a great stand alone tool. Nonetheless, it’s a wonderful introduction to a significant event in U.S. history.

Wie ein Verstorbener Christus

Deutsch ist nicht meine Muttersprache; es tut mir leid für mögliche Fehler. Manchmal gibt es Fächer, über die man nicht mit seiner Mutter sprechen kann. Meiner Meinung nach ist es daher besser, dieses Fach nicht in meiner Muttersprache, sondern in meiner Zweitsprache (Deutsch) auszudrücken.

Ich bin ein schwuler Mann, aber zu jung um mich an den AIDS Notfall zu erinnern. David Kirby war ein Mann, der an AIDS gestorben ist. Er war ein Aktivist, berühmt für das Foto von ihm und seiner Familie bei seinem Tod.

2E03BFDF-D691-42E0-9EE9-069950EF6AFB

Wenn ich dieses Foto ansieht, sehe ich Christus; ich kann nicht anders.

Ist Christus was die Menschen gesehen hat, in dem Bild das “das Gesicht von AIDS veränderte”?

Ich muss mich fragen, was passiert wäre, wenn er nicht wie Christus ausgesehen hätte? Dieses Bild ist einflussreich, aber war es notwendig?

Ein Gedicht, das allen Leuten gewidmet ist, wer im Tod als Christus dargestellt wurden.

Wie ein verstorbener Christus

.

Er liegt im Tod und scheint als ob,

Er Jesus Christus wäre.

„Wären” weil wir wahrlich wissen,

Solches Bild war nicht für seine Ehre

.

Der Mensch könnte nie wie Christus sein.

„Aber wir machen das aus Liebe!”

Predigen die Leute, die er nie kannte—

Sie zwingen ein anderes Geschichte

.

Vernünftige Männer folgen den roten Stern

Christus wurde unter ihm geboren

Wahrheit kämpft gegen die Auferstehung

Und ist vor dem roten Stern gestorben

.

„Christus ist aber der geliebte Sperling,

Den wir alle anerkennen.

Dieser Mensch könnte auch anerkannt werden;

Wenn wir ihn einen Christus nennen”

.

Was für einen Angriff gegen den Mensch!

Dass er aussehen muss, wie Gott,

Bevor wir ihn annehmen werden—

War sein ganzes Leben nur ein Spott?

.

Habe ich richtig verstehen? „Er sei ein Radikaler,

Daher müssten wir ihn mit uns versöhnen.”

Ist es wirklich nicht genug, dass er war,

Wie alle, nur einer der Menschensöhnen?”

.

 

Bildnachweis:

“Pieta” von William-Adolph Bouguereau

“David Kirby’s Final Moments” von Therese Frare

“Pietà” von Paul Armesto

Remembering You

A poem written for, and dedicated to, someone I dearly miss. They know who they are. Originally published in 2018, with Pathos Literary Magazine


Remembering You

. . .

I followed you, past the stone park, to the nickel arcade

Where nostalgias are made with beeps, whistles, and 1000 points

And I discovered that only quarters are accepted there now

.

The sight of that flickering, half-lighted entrance sign

Sparked benign half-memories of your nimble, toothy smiles—

Or it used to, when all the bulbs were bright and new

.

Inside I exchange green linen for hero’s-journey metal

And settled on prizes I’d buy with my paper-ticket winnings—

Oh, how we pleasured in those plastic-cheap treasures

.

But our favorite game was broken, about to be replaced,

So I paced the rows of pixel caskets, searching for another

And chose the one we one-time beat on only twenty nickels

.

The quarter chunked and rattled downward in the slot

And in a spark of thought, I decided to play as your character

So you’d be there in a kind-of way …

.

Alone, I couldn’t get the bonus points and soon I lost

But tossed another quarter down the orange-lighted grave

And noticed the high-score with your initials was erased.

Turtle and a Straw

“You feel really bad about the fuckin’ turtles with the straws, then write a poem about it; just don’t make it the same pandering fuckin’ horseshit”.

He’s right, I thought after hearing these words uttered by Tyler R. Martin of Bourbon, Cigarettes and Syllables (in the post for his poem Lonely Dog). I was—perhaps oddly—inspired by this thought to write a piece unlike anything I’d previously attempted. A poem that’s more flippant in its execution, more irreverently critical, and less like pure pandering horseshit.

The text below is the final result of that experiment; and based off of everything else I’ve written, an experiment is absolutely was. So it’s a poem?

Sure. Though I’m not against the whole thing being an ironic dramatic performance piece.

. . .

Turtle and a Straw

 

Cylindrical smooth, and neon blue

Long and slender, breakable, tender

—the worst kind of prick. 

 

Crusted foam of syrup and creamed soy,

Perhaps anthropocene clean, because—oh boy

Karen can’t cup her crimson lips betwixt 

The mouth of a 

Full Throttle!

single use 

water bottle. 

 

“Liberal thinker” *atheist iced coffee drinker* 

And a Dixie Belle whose South-Shall-Rise-Again, 

Cult-sick, but conservative with her lipstick,

Both mindlessly flick their first world trash, 

That plastic stick

right in

to the big 

blue bin. 

 

Because “fucks” are easier to get than to give. 

 

Pfft, and how wity he sits, queer little poet

Cocktail with those ity-bitty straws—they pour it

No care no pity for the tortoises who’d snort it;

More drinks, all shitty, and writes a short bit

of performance art;

An activist

doing his part:

 

A Dramatic Virtue Signal

By Queer Poet

(Stage directions)

Can I save you, young turtle, with my words?

(Wispy flick of the wrist) I am an internal democracy,

(Wring hands) Spare me the snare of my hypocrisy

Let’s care in tandem for the fair and best—yes!?

(Reach L-hand toward nothing, R-hand over chest)

How doth my liberal heart exsanguinate!

 

(Editor Note: Above stanza is dribble and shart, eliminate)

 

After 500 years of life, drowned in strife

With a straw, packed hard with snot,

Brain matter and squelching splatter

Pull that plastic from the neuro-elastics

Sticky, human-made, suffocation renegade,

From a Solo cup of lemonade

and guilt 

gently wrapped 

and thrown out

 

How tidy. (Clap clap)

 

X Iced Vanilla Latte

X Half-extra sweet

X Extra shot (blond roast)

X One pump rancid turtle meat

X Mocha-Carmel drizzle

X No cream no whip

X Bloody nostrils so abysmal 

X Chocolate biscotti to dip

 

“Blah, blah, blah. Bitch, yas I want a straw!”