Putting Away Grief
Laura Grace Weldon ~
Get out my green mug, round as a pregnant belly.
Casually pour grounds in the filter
despite monitoring devices warning
of an intruder's presence.
Act normally. Breathe deeply.
Let the cosmic swirl of cream in hot coffee
remind me how small one lifetime is
in an infinite universe. Remember
the Vedas say God's playfulness is expressed
through perpetual creation and dissolution.
Quell fear. Be peace.
Ignore creaks and groans as intruder
inches closer. Pretend
the future is a given,
as it was before
Carlos Downell ~
They say that to write well, you should write about what you know. I'm a homeless drug addict. This essay is not about me, although I'll figure in it. It's about drug abuse among the homeless, a subject I'm very well acquainted with.
I have a dual diagnosis--substance-abuse issues and psychiatric dysfunction. Double trouble. If I can't get meth, I'll smoke crack, and if I can't get crack, I'll smoke pot or take pills or whatever I can get--anything but inhalants. I'm what's known as a polysubstance abuser. (Most addicts are.)
I'm in recovery. Sounds like I should be in a hospital bed, and perhaps I should--but I continue to function. I abide, I persevere and I survive: It's what I do. I reside on the sidewalk, on the railroad tracks, under the freeway overpass.
I began practicing as an internist/nephrologist in the early 1960s. Having rented an office in Los Angeles, I introduced myself to the local medical community and set out to build a practice.
With a growing family, a mortgage and an office to support, I was hungry for patients. Hospital emergency rooms were good referral sources, so I took ER call at three different hospitals.
Late one Friday night, I got a call from one of these hospitals: A middle-aged engineer was in the ER complaining of chest pain. His electrocardiogram showed minor abnormalities, and he needed to be admitted for observation to rule out a heart attack. Back then, this meant several days of blood tests and repeated electrocardiograms. Uncomplicated heart attacks were treated with bed rest, sedation and blood thinners, followed by gradual ambulation and discharge.