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Tuesday, January 26, 2016


by Bill Sullivan

Congress has historically treated drug abuse as a malady afflicting mostly poor, minority communities, best dealt with by locking people up for long periods of time. The epidemic of drug overdose deaths currently ravaging white populations in cities and towns across the country has altered this line of thinking, and forced lawmakers to acknowledge that addiction is a problem that knows no racial barriers and can be best addressed with treatment. —NY Times Editorial, Jan. 25, 2016. Photo: A 20-year-old heroin addict agreed to go to detox through the Gloucester [MA] Police Department Angel program in January after he overdosed. Credit: Katherine Taylor for NY Times, Jan. 24, 2016

blue nails  ashen skin
                                           pin size pupils
barely a breath
                                           another flat line looms
his savior if found
                                           a narcan syringe
white brown or black
                                           a teen or thirty something
or an aging boomer
                                           who went from prescriptions
pushed by physicians
                                           to bags of scag

he might collapse
                                           on a city street
or in a country lane
                                           be clad in a suit
or laborer's boots
                                           be an absent father
or live in lover
                                           once a dreamer
or a pragmatist
                                           now possessed
he rides a demon horse
                                           over a cliff
will it be a hospital
                                           or the morgue
for the man
                                           with the opioid eyes

for years jeered
                                           as a crackhead
or junkie
                                           he was left to die
or tossed into a cell
                                           but when the disease
infected the suburbs
                                           the country lanes
the club house
                                           and the gated estate
it was rehab for the addict
                                           progress no doubt
but too late for the poor
                                           who had no care or aid
who filled a grave
                                           or crawled around
a prison cave

Bill Sullivan is from Rhode Island where in the past five years over a thousand residents have overdosed on opioids, mainly heroin.  He is the co-author two books on twentieth century poetry, co-producer of two films and his poems have appeared in a number of on line and print publications.  His latest publication is Loon Lore in Prose and Poetry.