Why I Still Go To Meetings: Two Pieces

She Haunts Me

She haunts me. When the hunger is in me, I think of her.
The other day I saw a man with the hunger in his eyes. I was standing
outside the Bank of America, selling the Spare Change News. Two men came
up quickly, one man Black, one man white. The white man went into the bank
while the Black man stood outside and paced. At times he muttered to himself.
I could not make out much of the words. He was in a hurry and on his way even
while he was waiting.

The white man reappeared with a sheaf of twenties in his hand and
counted two or three off into the Black man’s hand. The hunger was beaming
from his eyes as the money hit his hand. He clutched it tightly and ran across
the street. I watched him disappear into the subway. I knew where he was

Those of us with the hunger recognize each other.
I see her almost every day. I can tell you where she hangs out, which bar
she frequents. She always catches my eye.

Does she know that I watch her? Maybe, maybe not. People hand her
money, she disappears into the subway. She comes back and goes to the
saloon where they wait.

The relapse is in me. It waits for me, whispering into the ear of my mind,
and it wants to catch me in a weak moment.

She? She is tall, skin color of mixed blood, wears jeans, sometimes a
dress, sometimes a kerchief on her head. Short hair. There are freckles on her
face and she is almost pretty.

I once saw her drop two packets into the hands of a friend.
There are many things that I forget. Names. I hear them, suddenly they
are gone. Appointment times. I must write them on the calendar otherwise they
disappear. I will forget to stop at the store to pick up juice. My memory is

My addiction is genius. Never forgets. This woman has stayed in my
memory since the summer of 1995, when she dropped two packets into the
hand of a friend, yet we have never spoken. She stands out in the crowd. I
watch her move down the street.

Suddenly, when she appears, all thoughts disappear from my mind. Only
the hunger remains. Sweet pestilence that rages through the ghettoes of my
mind. Sometimes I get so hungry that my bones ache. I taste the heroin in the
back of my throat, my body memory slaps my recovery down the street.
She haunts me. When the hunger is in me, I think of her.

What Brings Me Back To Hell

She haunts the dusty eye of my
mind swirling down the streets of Central
Square dope in her empty pockets she
can bring me nothing arching her
back like a cat she is one of us has
never left my sight closer than
I want she will always be
everywhere the only running is the option
of suicide who can tell the future relapse
is too close to think of it like
a vise it encircles my being there
will be no coming back she
sits in the bar and waits for me to
come to her it will not be long
until I am gone.

Talk to me of shadows I will
show you who
I was the light
will not shine through me when
I touch her hand.

What brings me back to hell
is the memory of heaven all
the gods are liars.

The Teeth of a Fox

The Teeth of a Fox

“For Mary Esther, the Fox”

They meet for the first time at an AA meeting. He sat in the third row, end seat close to the wall. She sat in the middle of the room, tears spilled down her face; she had a tissue crumpled in her fist and her lips quivered.

He watched her. She was well-dressed, gold jewelry splashed about her wrists, neck, hanging from her ears. He knew she came from another world, one he was not familiar with. She was a stranger in his world, a sheep amongst the wolves, yet she had the teeth of a fox. Times there were he spoke about the hell he was resurrected from; times there were she spoke about the hell she was walking through.

Some connections begin slowly, electricity leaps from person to person before they are even aware something is taking place. His hormones did a slow firefly dance. He was steel; she was a magnet. She was a spider; he was the web.

In the beginning. Truthfully, both their recollections are as dark as a hurricane sky, but he did remember she asked him out for coffee.

The next thing he knew they were drinking coffee, eye to eye, knee to knee. If you were to ask him what they were talking about at that little round table, if you were to ask him anything specific, he would strain.

Holding back when every cell is moving towards the object can be difficult. One could say going into orbit around a point of light is so much easier, but an asteroid might say different.

Luckily, we’re just talking about two people out for coffee on an otherwise normal day.

What made it more than normal was that, even though it was right in front of him, he has no memory of what it was. Looking at her, watching her lips move, listening to the music, the slight lisp which made her words all the more wonderful. What was she saying anyway?

He tries to piece together the conversation on that day. If only he could remember what it was about. But any group of sentences can be strung together to make a necklace of pearls that has nothing to do with the meaning of the individual words. So it was on that day.

Plans were made. They must have been, for sooner or later, they wound up at Revere Beach.

He knows they ate at Kelly’s Roast Beef on the boardwalk.

He remembers there were sand fleas, yet which trip to the beach was it when they were bitten; was it the first or on one of the many trips since then?

They were bitten the first time. Sand fleas? The teeth of a fox?

All he remembers was he took her into his arms, or was it her folding into him with the magic of not knowing whose arms touched first? But the ocean was roaring, smashing giant waves onto the beach as the salt spray soaked them, and then her breath in his lungs. Giant waves on Revere Beach? The storm clouds? Perhaps, on that day, both their perceptions were a bit altered.

There are times they talk about what happened on the beach. She smiles, looks into his eyes. He forgets what he asked. What he asked doesn’t matterr anyhow, does it?