“To call on the people to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions” (Marx on religion, 1844).
When I first saw our brother Jack, He was nodding at the kitchen table, The phone in hand loudly signaling No one at the other end, A cigarette burning down between his fingers, And he became my hero in that instant Because he didn’t give a fuck about a thing— Three decades later, I see him there And still want what he had just then, Abcesses, burns and bruises airbrushed out, No desperate joneses or humiliation, Deleting scenes of him pulling out His eyelashes in frustration When he couldn’t find a vein— Still I think of living somewhere like Tehran Or better, having a boxcar load of liquid morphine, So I’d have the perfect junkie life for sure Because there’d be no problem with supply, Though I’d have to find ingenious methods Of ingestion undiscovered yet, Protect my stash from thievery, Myself from overdose and murderous attempts To rob me, and then my liver would quit At 90 just before the dope ran out.
We said we’d be old men in rocking chairs, With hashish pipes in hand and grandkids gathered ‘Round our knees to marvel at our wisdom, Like how the world would be a better place If everyone would shoot narcotics— We’d laugh and say, “We are omnipotent,” But at twenty-four you nodded out for good While I was tucked away in rehab, And how I wish that you were here with me— I’ve learned a lot I’d love to share with you About solidarity and vulnerability Since we stumbled loaded miles together. I’ve often wondered why you died And I’ve lived on for thirty years since then, When you’d have done as well as I Or anyone at living on— Old-timers in AA tried to console me With platitudes about some “plan” That God must have for me (and not for you, I guess), which was no help at all, And NA saved my life, for sure, But never answered questions more complex Than how to live drug-free: that’s huge But not much of a “plan” or road to take.
The mind is such a mystery to me— It turns to anything to avoid Our present condition, even addiction, Its romantic rituals, Tragic searching for solace, Surreal, euphoric memories, Bullshit ‘bout the “good old days” Or some imagined angle to escape Inevitable jail, institutions or death (It’ll be different this time, I know it will)— Even though (or maybe because) I miss My young dead friends, especially you, Even though a daughter’s following In my footsteps and I see the victims Everywhere, I sometimes envy those At it still with bigger habits, Their exciting lives, their fortune at the game— One plan is to struggle now somehow To destroy our condition that requires such illusions, Our dog-eat-dog, shit-flows-downhill condition, Our sacrificial slaughter on the altar of Power and Profit, By creating a new reality So fair and clean that no one needs escape, No one seeks an accidental suicide.