Sunday, February 9, 2014

Chasing The Dragon

Addictions are all based on memory—
The body’s memory of peace or pleasure,
The mind’s of how it felt to have no thought
For anything but how long it will last,
This thoughtless moment. (And the answer is:
"Not long enough, not as long as you want.")
To paraphrase the late great Andy Warhol,
Highs are nostalgia for highs.  Tomorrow’s
Will try to replicate today’s, just like
Today’s all tried to equal yesterday’s.
All pleasure trips are subject to inflation:
The more you travel there, the more you need
Just to get past the border, never mind
Into the deep heartlands of ecstasy.

The kick you're chasing is always a kick
Too far; so even when you finally catch it,
You’re still reaching for something that’s not there—
A teasing perfumed promise of fulfillment
That’s a relentless roller coaster ride.
The only way to get off is to jump
And ask someone to help you get as far
Away from it as humanly possible;
But you can drive for miles and it will still
Loom just as large behind you, like the Rockies:
Snow-capped and distant, close enough to touch,
Whispering irresistibly that you
Can reach the summit if you turn around.

So many whispers, each one telling you
To lift away the coupling bolt that ties
Your baggage car to the train, that dragging weight,
And watch it fall away until it all
But disappears behind you, and you feel
The warm and glowing lightness of acquittal
From the capital offense of flesh and blood—
Sweet liberation, flowing and flying both—
And then the brakes squeal, and you topple back
Inside yourself, to law-abiding slowness,
And there’s that baggage car, back where it was,
The drag that drugs can never quite release.

And yes, there are far more who don’t than do;
And yes, exceptions always test the rule—
But just like there is always something empty
Inside the fullest, most fulfilling life,
There’s a dependency in all great actors—
An emptiness that cries out to be flooded
By something outside pouring in: a script
They can interpret, or a role they can
Embody—something only they can quicken,
For what they bring to life brings them alive.
And that dependency can sometimes lead
To a narcotic, rather than the fix
Of fiction.

And no, it’s not something broken
Inside them—it’s just how some of them are
Wired to meet the world—without some input,
They feel as useless as an empty glass,
And so they fill it with a drink or two,
Or do some lines to help them do some lines,
And then one day it’s what their muscles need
So they’ll feel strong—and the bare skull they skinned
With lines of character is naked now,
And craves a face that always falls away,
Scrounging for health in waste that makes them ill,
To die from what they need to be themselves—

Like Barrymore, who could turn into Hyde
Without makeup or camera tricks, and died
Of all the alcohol he had to drink
To feel like Barrymore.  It’s sad to think
Greatness and emptiness walk hand in hand;
And those of us who try to understand
The souls of earthbound equals, never mind
The stars, can easily become so blind
To weakness that we patronizingly
Condemn the victim for stupidity
And never see the need that fed the needle.

Copyright 2014 Matthew J Wells


Elijah said...

this is absolutely beautiful Matthew. Thank you for for such an articulate, insightful, and poetic illumination of this very real life process.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mathew, you have captured the fleeting promise of neediness which hides around us until it dwells inside us, nourishing and eating us in equal measure, until our shared humanity demands we find solitude in loving service where we celebrate shared sobriety. Having been blessed with almost 26 years of clean and sober living in the company of other saved souls, I am grateful to you for your poetically expressed insights.

R. Vincent Park said...

Brilliant! I just reposted on Facebook... as always, thanks you for the insights!

Dennis Metnick said...

It is so great to see your words again. I've missed them. As always, delicious and insightful!