Heroin & Hyperconsumption – A Poem

Ever since beginning work on my book, Dreamland, I’ve been struck by the way opiates isolate those addicted to them.

As I wrote and researched, they grew into a metaphor for modern American life.

Opiate addiction, seems to me, is some kind of final expression of our own destruction of community, our lack of connection across the country – both in poor communities and wealthy ones. cropped-Virgin-of-Guadalupe-dec-12-2012-La-Placita-11.jpg

We exalt consumption and the individual over community and have for a long time now.

These drugs seem to fit that; they turn everyone who abuses them into self-absorbed, lonely hyper-consumers.

The poem below was written by Andrew Smith, one of the thousands of Americans who died in 2014 of a heroin overdose. He was 24.

His mother, Margie Borth, discovered it after his death.

“There were several writings, this one is about scoring heroin and the lonely world that became his life,” she wrote, sending me the poem. “His brilliance still shines in his dark, sad words. His best friend described this as `hauntingly beautiful.’  I knew nothing of his addiction until just five weeks before he died. I was in a blur of grief when I first read it.  But now I do see the beauty of his writing.  I miss him so much, just like the thousands of other parents who are thrown into this nightmare. “

Simulate the Static

by Andrew Smith

____

The waiting, oh god

The waiting

The parking lots, the bathrooms, the empty parks that close after dark

The driveways, the bus stops, the car backseats

The posh bank lobbies, flea bag motel rooms, gas station pumps

Oak trees, palms, and retention ponds meant to beautify

The ditches, the swamps, and one off dead roads that lead to nowhere

And the loneliness of that trap.

The broken windows,

The made for TV dinners

The busted speakers blaring bass on a burner cell phone

The children going hungry, ignored in the corner

Staring at a broken television; simulating static.

The characters

The hangers-on, the worn out, the washed up

The good, the bad, the ugly

and the pretty young white girls with the blank eyes

Staring in awe at this newfound world.

The sun is setting and it’s starting to rain

My eyes are closed and I’m wishing I’m somewhere else.

When I hear a tap on my passenger window

Within 30 seconds, he’s gone

And the wait seems like a thousand centuries ago.

                  In this moment, I rest my eyes a second

Breathe a sigh of relief and know that all is right with the world

At least for these brief few hours.

The rain falls and my windows are up

It casts shadows across the dashboard

And the radio plays a news story

From a country whose language I do not speak

And a land I do not know.

                  Life is a quest

And we all search for something:

Money, fame, power, an identity.

For most they never find it;

And like a mirage in the desert,

it wavers in allure on their weary walk forward.

For others, they do.

And what’s worse,

They’re left in the emptiness of what it means.

But in this moment a fleeting comfort comes to me

And I know I’m not alone.

(Feb 2014)

5 Comments

Filed under Dreamland, Drugs, The Heroin Heartland, Uncategorized, Writing

5 Responses to Heroin & Hyperconsumption – A Poem

  1. Freedom_First

    I recently listened to a Substance Abuse Expert and was pleasantly suprised and impressed by what she had to say. She said that some people who consume drugs become “addicts” because their lives are not meaningful. They are disconnected from their fellow human beings. They don’t have loving, caring relationships with other people even though they may be loved by their family and others. There is a lack of intimacy in their lives that is filled by drugs. Drugs become their best friends and lovers. She went on to explain that the worst thing that can be done to those people is to punish them and treat them as criminals because that causes them to become more disconnected from their fellow humans and more disconnected from society. Treating an “addict”as a criminal makes their problems worse. She is the first and only SAE that I have heard who directly criticized the current policy of criminalization. The fact that the drug war machine (illegalization) abuses human beings is the reason why I became involved in these issues.

    Many people are lonely. Many people feel that there is something missing in their lives. Many people feel that their lives are not meaningful. Many people are searching for something, something meaningful. If some of them can get some relief or pleasure from drugs, then good for them. The problem is that the law will not allow them or anyone else to choose for themselves. The drug war machine makes the absurd claim that adults do not have the right to choose their own food, drink, and medicine. They claim the right to punish and even kill anyone who refuses to lick their boots. In fact, their law enforcement goons have enthusiastically adopted the policy of Obey or Die which is a Nazi-Totalitarian policy.

    In my experience, 99% of those who use intoxicants or consume drugs are not “addicts” or diseased creatures who are in need of “treatment”. There is nothing wrong with them. They are no more inferior to the self-proclaimed, drug free, supremacists than the Jews were inferior to the Aryan supremacists. The people who are in need of treatment are the drug fighters and illegalizers. They need to be given a kick in rear and sent home.
    — Rick [Freedom_First (at) verizon (dot) net]

  2. Freedom_First

    I just read the poem by Andrew Smith, very powerful. Clearly, that young man was tortured to death.

    Who is responsible? The drug war machine blames “drugs” in general and heroin in particular. But, that explanation makes no sense because inert substances have no will and therefore cannot cause anything or harm anyone. There are no evil substances or objects that can control human beings unless you believe in voodoo nonsense. So, the drug war machine is really saying that that Mr. Smith killed himself by buying and consuming drugs. They are saying that if he had been prevented from buying heroin, he would be alive and happy. They are saying that his “addiction” to opiates killed him. They are saying that he committed suicide because he had access to drugs.

    The drug war machine wants you to believe that Mr. Smith died because he chose to consume opiates such as heroin. But, that belief is ridiculous because billions of human beings have consumed opiates and have benefited from their use. Opiates are among the safest and most valuable drugs known to mankind. They have been safely consumed for centuries unlike many of the synthetic drugs produced by Big Pharma (the government drug cartel) which have killed millions of Americans when taken as directed. Hundreds of Big Pharma’s synthetic drugs have been removed from the market for that reason. All medical professionals agree that opiates are among the most valuable and effective drugs, and 100% safe when taken as directed.

    What about all the drug overdose deaths that are blamed on heroin and other opiates? The truth is that all accidental overdoses are the direct result of all the adulterated, improperly labeled, improperly manufactured, and contaminated drugs produced by the current illegalization war. Pure opiates such as morphine and its analog diacetylmorphine (heroin) packaged in safe doses are 100% safe. It is impossible to accidentally overdose on properly labeled drugs that are packaged in safe doses just like it is impossible to accidentally jump off a tall building or accidentally swallow twenty or thirty pills instead of one or two.

    Every drug fighter and illegalizer is personally responsible for every accidental overdose. Why? Because they employ armies of armed government agents and a vast prison system in order to prevent their fellow humans from purchasing safe drugs that are packaged in safe doses. The same is true of all those who supported alcohol Prohibition (the previous drug war that was waged against alcohol producers, dealers, and consumers). Everyone of those drug fighters and illegalizers was personally responsible for all the victims of that war such as all those who were killed or injured from consuming bad booze and all the other victims of that unjust war such as the victims of gangs and gang warfare that resulted from that illegalization war.

    In the case of Andrew Smith, the drug fighters and illegalizers got what they wanted. They successfully prevented him from buying (they prefer the word “scoring” because it makes them feel superior) safe drugs that are packaged in safe doses. They prefer a drug-free corpse over a live human being who is not as pure (drug free) as they would like him to be. Mr. Smith refused to be controlled by these violent predators, so, they killed him, tortured him to death. According to them, he and all other drug “criminals” deserve to be punished severely.

    Drug fighters, illegalizers, and many Substance Abuse Experts do not see a “drug abuser” as a valuable human being with his own values, dreams, hopes, and needs who deserves to be respected. They see him as an object, an “addict” who needs to be controlled and manipulated, put into “treatment” and punished if he refuses to obey.

    I want to thank Sam Quinones for allowing me space on his blog to criticize the drug war and the substance abuse industry for supporting that war either directly or by their silence.

    — Rick [Freedom_First (at) verizon (dot) net]

  3. Freedom_First

    Ever since beginning my work to expose the injustice of the war on some drugs, I’ve been struck by the way that this war isolates those who are addicted to it.

    Sam, by demonizing drugs such as heroin, you are suporting the war on drugs which is, in fact, a war that is being waged against human beings. Human beings, not drugs, are being killed, assaulted, robbed, and arrested by the millions.

    For your information, the purpose of words like “addict”, “user”, “pusher”, “junkie”, “druggie”, “trafficker”, etc. is to dehumanize the hated other in order to justify the barbarisms that are being committed against them in the name of the law. By blaming opiates and other “drugs” for personal failures, you are supporting these violent crimes. Suppose that some people wanted to help you conquer your addiction to power and control, how would you like to be treated? Would you like to be treated with respect or would you prefer to be attacked by armed thugs, thrown to the ground with a dozen guns pointed at your head, murdered if you object, and put in a cage if you survived?

    In any case, you have been misinformed about drugs. The major drugs in the world — alcohol, cannabis, opiates, and cocaine — are valuable medicines which have served mankind for thousands of years. Medicinal plants and extracts are the safest drugs. Preparations of coca, opium, cannabis, and alcohol have been safely produced and consumed for centuries. These much-valued herbal medicines also have religious, ceremonial, and recreational uses. They belong in every home and medicine kit unless the homeowner chooses otherwise.

    If you want to believe that opiates are evil substances which destroy all those who possess them unless they are protected by a magic piece of paper called a “license” or “prescription”, that is your choice. Freedom means that you are free to believe in any voodoo nonsense that you like. But, you do not have any right to murder, assault, rob, and arrest all those who do not share your voodoo beliefs. In other words, if you honestly want to help the human beings whom you label as “addicts”, then you must first stop treating them as criminals and stop the supporting the war that is being waged against them. If a fellow human being wants to take a trip to “dreamland”, that is his business, not yours.

    Adult human beings who refuse to be told by you or any anyone else what they may eat, drink, smoke, or otherwise ingest are not criminals anymore than those who refuse to be told what they may read, write, think, or believe. Human beings who exercise their natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not criminals no matter what you or anyone else says. The several hundred million honest, decent human beings who have been declared criminals by the U.S. drug war are no more inferior to the self-proclaimed, “drug free” supremacists than beer drinkers were inferior to the alcohol-free supremacists during alcohol Prohibition or Jews were inferior to the Aryan supremacists.
    — Rick [Freedom_First (at) verizon (dot) net]

  4. zh

    …”who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to
    Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver &
    brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find
    out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes…”
    –Allen Ginsberg

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