They have a youth that you think
should make you envious, poured
into clothing that would be
a second skin, if skin were silk
and polyester, patterned tights
hair ironed straight, colored highlights
and you still recall when this
what a fascinated you, when
you would have found it alluring.
You probe the corners of your memory
knowing the trigger is there, unable
to find it in the vague images of velvet,
flowing and draping, colors more vibrant
in the acid fog, knowing it would all
crash down too soon, that the cocktails they hold
should be cheap jug wine in plastic cups
to prolong the slow descent back
into the real world from which the blotter
paper and cactus provided a welcomed escape.


And then there is the abyss
where it all comes crashing
back down on you and there is nothing
and no one, and you grasp
and find only yourself at the bottom
and arise, crawl up and out,
and nothing has changed except
the face of one who saw you fall.
You say words meant to calm
either you or the others, but
they sound hollow, all words
have an emptiness in this moment,
and you know it will pass,
and you know it will not pass
nearly soon enough, and you remember
the moments, once, when you
would think that the abyss
the drug created would last
forever and in that moment
you began the slow return.


I enter the station house
and walk up to the neck high desk.
I would like to report
a missing person.
I have been gone
more than twenty-four hours.
I can’t give
a very good description,
my eyes see in the mirror
a still young man
sitting in a park in Salt Lake City
in the drum circle
passing the joint and jug of wine,
my ears hear a voice
deep and rich, reverberating
through the microphone
preaching subversion
to the youth of Rochester,
my fingers touch the cheeks
of the girl perched next to me
on the outcropping overlooking
the middle falls down from the inn
the sun dancing
off her long black hair,
my nose smells the sour odor
of JP-4 Jet Fuel
and the exhaust of the F-102
and the beer soaking the floor
of the base NCO Club
late in the evening,
I can the taste of salt
of the sweat in the hollow
of her neck as we lay
in a moment of reflection
as the Greek sun
beat down outside the window.
Sergeant if you find me
please call me immediately
for I am terribly concerned
at my absence, it is
so out of character.


First appeared in modified form in The Worcester Review, Vol. 21, Nos. 1-2 (2000)