Sammy told me
that she really dug
the way DXM made
her feel. She said it
fills you with energy,
a heated excitement,
and that your mind
expands like a balloon,
so that soon you feel
like a leaf on the wind,
like a feather off a wing,
So, I went to the 24-hour
Walmart and stole all the
cough syrup that would
fit in my coat pockets,
and snuck past the blue-
vested employees, out
into the parking lot,
and began the long walk home.
And in my recliner
I sit back and read
losers cite their
when I was
I saw on the ground
a reflection, of orange
light from a street lamp,
which seeped between the
tree branches and leaves
onto the wet asphalt
in front of me.
I have allergies.
To cats, specifically.
Now, when I get cat hair
in my eye-hole, it hurts
so much that I punch
the wall in my closet,
and now it’s full of holes.
So I’ve got a habit of itching.
Scratching. Irritating the skin
with impulsiveness. A perfectionist’s
inclination: to eliminate discomfort
in all forms—like the intentions of
any cruise ship—to bring you back
to the time when you were a baby
and all you had to do was suck
a tit and all of a sudden you were
all good again, because they were
gonna clean the shit and piss for you;
isn’t that what you want America?
So when I finally had cooked the DXM,
when I had melted it down and sloshed it around
and made my Kool-Aid-like fluid,
and drank it down like I would
an iced tea on a thirsty summer day:
and from me exploded a thousand
tiny thoughts and phrases which seemed
to frame every insane reality that had ever effaced
the shape of my smile: I was a cloud,
floating, watching the world from a height
so high it was a bird’s-eye-view: I look down
and see Sim City—the game I used to play
when I was young and would build cities
just to crush them down with a bulldozer.
And isn’t that what I do now,
after all, with words?
Subversion, such a subtle calamity
of dissatisfaction: America,
such a repressed superstructure.
Invincible in its ignorance it establishes
society through gracelessness to create
a graceless society that eats grace alive.
“Leap!” says my heart.
“Control!” says my brain.
“Keep the strain within reason,”
say the muscles in my face.
I’d like to see me try.
I’d like to see more than half
of any one thing.
Oh right, back to the itching.
An impulse, insatiable, imbecilic,
and a few more i-words that
represent the irritable half-blind life
I’m forced by my past self to live.
It was a fingernail that did it:
got stuck in my eye, while I
was clipping my nails—
now when I do it I shut
my eye with each loud
click of the metal, to keep
it safe from the harm
I didn’t even know
at my cuticles as I
clicked the clipper,
wanting not to clip
too far, and I didn’t;
in fact I made what
surgeons might call
a shallow incision.
But the nail flew
through the air
my eye and might
as well have been acid
for the damage it did
in the end.
I think back; I think that back then
I thought the nail had slipped
beneath my eyelid, beside
the culvert of my tear duct—
that it might be cutting my eye,
might keep cutting it,
that my eye might start bleeding,
might look terrible to everyone
who saw me.
Oh how right I was.
Seeing the color of my skin’s pigment
flipping back and forth between pink
and white and red and purple and blue
and visions of you, I began to scratch
at the strange bit of invisible
skin that turned out
to be my eye’s lining,
which, by the end,
was so loose around
the ball that I could pull
on it with my fingernails
pressed together like pincers,
and pull it out from the white ball,
and snap it back.
Turns out the nail just bounced off my eye.
Just sliced it a little.
I found it on the ground later—
that was when I punched my first hole.
Hello self, said I to the mirror.
Hello bright red Irish-bred skin;
hello sunburn, hello regrets
and drug-masked pains:
I’ll ignore you some more,
I will. I’ll ignore any gore
I see on the news, because
I need only shut one eye.
I’ll ignore any itch I feel;
I’ll prepare myself for
the worst possible curveballs
my mind might throw my way—
I’ll ignore it, I will. But some itches
just can’t be ignored, some scabs
must be picked off in the end.
Sometimes to scratch the end
of an itch you need to dig
deep down inside yourself
to find what you’re looking for
and rip it right out of your head.