Karl Koweski
let’s go burn one

we’ve just finished hanging
a set of cylinders
into the chrome tanks
when Mike says
“let’s go burn one”

“hell yeah, I’m with you”

I don’t like Mike
but I never decline
an invitation
to embrace the herb

Mike glances furtively
around before we
trudge the length
of the catwalk
secreting ourselves
behind the chrome vats
where only
mutant rats
survive very long

Mike withdraws
a Marlboro red from his pocket
sticks it in his yap
and lights it

I stand there
hesitant to say anything
as he puffs
on his cigarette

my patience lasts
exactly three inhalations

“so we gonna burn one or what?”

Mike motions at his cigarette
takes one more draw
before he flicks off the cherry
and puts the half cig
in his shirt pocket

then he walks back
into the factory proper
eyes peeled for
wandering supervisors
and nicotine narcs

the draconian drug laws
implemented by this country
may have created
more victimless criminals

but the factory’s
no smoking policy
has made more nattering idiots



Jim Vacca
More than even Heroin (Heroin Romance)

The club’s shut down and he’s long been paid, Behaved himself at least to get through the sets without seeming too depraved. Of course that’s some of the ticket, some of the show, why people come to see him. But unfortunately, for him, they still want to hear the songs.
“Whatta they know, I’ve heard them enough, the crowds and the songs. Just a bunch-a-assholes. They can’t appreciate a true artiste like me,” he laughs about his rag tag mix of punk and fifties rock’n’roll.
The bass player gave him and his girlfriend a ride back to their apartment in the Chinese part of town that borders on the red light district. She carries his guitar and lets him slump against her shoulder up the stairs.
“You know I love you, babe, I love you, more than anything, more than the music, more than the drugs, more than even heroin,” he says leaning against the back of the bed, the cigarettes between his fingers, his lids hanging heavy off his eyes, but of course, it’s not true. Even if he might believe it, a second here or there, heroin’s taking all his love, all his interest. Anything else is just second on the list. Heroin takes it all. All your problems, all your desires and puts it all in one little package, and that package is all your problems, all your desires rolled into one. Heroin- for people who want to commit suicide without the commitment. Death without leaving home.
His long hair hangs in bangs in his eyes, his skinny torso is bare but his black slacks and boots are still on. The bare bulb shines above the room at three a.m. and someone beats his woman down the hall.
“You know, this new band, Jimmy really beats the skins, I think this could be my big break. I promise, I’m gonna get myself straight and then things are gonna happen.”
But his heart is somewhere else, his veins beat with something else. The ashtray overflows, the wine bottle’s half full and the empty beer bottles are next to the bed. Her head lies in his lap and her eyes look big and sad, bored and frightened at the same time.
“We’re hittin’ the big time, Becky Lou,” he says in a fake cowboy accent,” I’m gonna set you up fine, honey chil’, all your chickens are comin’ home to roost. I’m getting’ us out of this two bit town.”
The neon light of the diner across the street blink on and off against the shades. His eyes grow heavy and heavier and she just finished off the bottle of wine. She knows she cares about him and it’s for his own good that he doesn’t know where her secret stash is hid. She pulls his zipper down and goes to work on him with her mouth, but it’s a losing battle. He’s still awake but the desire’s long been drained.
“C’mon, honey, just for me?” she says quietly as she continues with her task. He can barely feel her.
He leans back and says, “You know I love you, baby, more than the mountains, more than the skies, more than…..just about, you sure you ain’t got anything, else, darlin’?”



Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

I have never lived
on the streets before.
I’m considering
such a plan opposed
to being in this
hospital with all
these mad people. I
am only depressed.
But that will pass. I
figure living in
the streets will give me
a new perspective
on things. I am sick
of taking pills. I’m
no drug addict and
I resent being
turned into one by
doctors who are the
drug pushers of the
companies. I am
convinced these pills are
dust or poison. No
one seems to get cured.
Some people get worse.
Those who appear to
get better relapse.
I have seen the same
faces over and
over again. We
are recycled like
plastic or paper.
I want to sign out
against the doctor’s
advice. I want to
live on the streets. I
want to smell fresh air.
This place stinks. Most of
the people here don’t
change their clothes or bathe.
You say the homeless
don’t change their clothes or
bathe either. At least
they don’t have to take
the pills my doctor
prescribed for me. They
make me feel so bad.

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