And so, I wake in the morning, and I step outside,
And I take a deep breath and I get real high,
And I scream from the top of my lungs,
"What's going on?"
I smoke too much.
I know because every morning
my body is screaming for nicotine,
wakes me up early out of a dead sleep
to go downstairs and pull hard, my lips
wrapped around my tiny black vape like
I’m sucking on death’s little finger.
As soon as the smoke hits my lungs,
my body begins to buzz. I pull and pull,
over and over like a prostitute desperate
to get it all over with, until the buzz reaches
my brain, and everything goes fuzzy and warm.
The high doesn’t last for long – not like
the highs I used to inject up my arm in long
golden spikes, the tinge of lemon in the citric acid
hitting my mouth a millisecond before my body,
rushed with endorphins my brain was never meant for,
began ringing bells of alarm in each ear.
Those were the old days.
This morning buzz is private, lasts only a moment.
Afterwards, I grab coffee, throw a fuzzy blanket
over my legs in the recliner, pull my laptop onto my lap,
and write. These are the highs that get me through
a day now. Nicotine, caffeine, a well-crafted line of poetry.
It looks like normalcy. Social acceptability.
I know my vices are a window,
smudgy with residue,
to where I am still inside,
screaming at the top of my lungs.
Ideas on Survival
You feel the night is being locked in and coded on a cellular level. The black aches in your bones like a dark miasma, like the shame you keep hidden like a box of chocolates in your closet you eat stealthily at 2 in the morning, turning your blood to tar in a swirling tornado of disgrace. Who do I think I am fooling with my survival, when everyone should know that I shattered the moment my 5-year-old hand was swallowed up in my grandfather’s guiding grasp? My literacy for breathing is nothing less than a miracle, the in and out a testament to overcoming death in its infinite forms, my mortality calculated to annihilate like a biological imperative. Part of my name means forever just like part of my name means rebirth; forever dying and forever reborn again from the ashes but not like the proverbial phoenix as much as the unkempt coal of a banked fire which ignites a passing leaf, flaming to radiant, temporary life. My life is a weeping clockwork, but at least in motion, hands dragging a millisecond at a time towards the inexorable end scene, days passed posed in an anxious gaping while trying to eke living into the frame.
R.B. Simon is a queer writer of African-, Native- and European-American descent. She has been published in multiple journals, among them The Closed Eye Open, Equinox, Electric Moon, Minnow Literary Magazine, and Literary Mama, and she has upcoming work appearing in Sky Island Journal, Strange Horizons, and the Hyacinth Review. Her poem Clutter was shortlisted for the 2022 Julia Darling Memorial Poetry Prize. Her chapbook, The Good Truth, was released in July 2021 from Finishing Line Press. In her “free time” she enjoys reading, painting, baking, clothing with stripes, giraffes, and coffee-flavored caffeine. She is currently living in Madison, WI with her spouse, young adult daughter, and four unruly little dogs.