Sunday, November 05, 2006


Since it actually is the Sabbath, a day of rest, I thought I'd cop out and ransack what little I have from back in the day. Truly, some Cringe-worthy poetry. Some of it not, some written as a 20 year old, therefore technically past Cringing over. But some of it still resonates with me.

I came across this old poem from my first public poetry reading at Salt Of The Earth Bookstore in Albuquerque, NM. It makes me cringe, only in a different way.

When I was twenty, I was an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Specifically the Young People's groups of AA. I was a part of the committee that started NMCYPAA ("nim-kee-pah" New Mexico Conference of Young People in AA). This high level of involvement brought me into contact with all sorts of new flavors of living and dying.

There were two sister's who ran in a sub circle to the group I hung out with. I was aware of them and their mother, a junkie in who had racked up a very respectable amount of clean time. Only she wasn't all the way there. She wasn't crazy, she just couldn't put everything together to function in life. She had barely a home to offer those girls, and then something happened, I never did learn what, and she went into some sort of Women's Shelter. This shelter? Apparently, it didn't take kids. The older girl, S was able to get a place at the home of a girlfriend. B was on her own. She was twelve.

This hurts way more than I thought it ever could. Still.

She was a beautiful girl, physically perfect. She had already couch surfed for a few weeks before she came to my attention. Things had already gone pretty bad for her in the surfing, and she had ended up in a bed or two along the way. I took her in and saw her through six months of hell, all while trying to keep my scholarship at UNM. Somehow we got into contact with her mom who got me in touch with their father (they were not allowed to have direct contact with him... he had a new and respectable family). He started paying me his version of "Child Support," a hundred fifty bucks a month, and as I was not yet twenty one and could not be a guardian in the state of NM... he signed over Power of Attorney. He gave me an health insurance card for her, at least he had her covered. School, then Alternative School, suicide attempts and drug rehab... I was there for it all. I thought I could do it.

By the time she got out of rehab, the winter/spring semester was ending and her mother was graduating from the shelter. She graciously agreed to take of custody of her youngest daughter who was now officially a teen. B never forgave me for "giving up" on her. Never spoke to me again, and left with her mother to California within the month. Last I had heard, she was a mother twice over at seventeen. This is the poem I wrote for B.


She's an offspring
of the Me
running wild in the streets
shoving gutter-dust
up her arms, nose...
she's been smoking it.
(...talking 'bout my generation?...)

Well it's no damn wonder.

Sisters got her high
when she was three.
Herb stolen
from Moms top drawer.
Five and she was doing for herself.
Take a toke
lean down,
blow spirits
in baby's face
Sold, in so many words
at nine
for an eightball
Mama's habit.
Mama got sober after she lost
all her teeth to cola and smack,
but little girl's still crazy.
Wonder is,
anyone expects her sane.

Did I give up? I don't know exactly.

I do know that there was nothing more that I could do for this girl, nothing else I could have done. I was young and alone in more ways than one, and this child came with a cornicopia of broken-ness. But there it is, and here I am...

...with three girls all my own and a slightly pre-smashed heart.