Friday dusk and the wind is cutting loose
With a thirsting for earthy wine it goes
Twirling the neon dust of avenues
Coiling the underbrush of starbirth
It is going to burst
In one long dragged-out howl
Across the moonscape where we linger
Dreaming the eternity of pipes
While the ribcage shakes with thunder
I will be going now to the barrio
To find my fat Mexican man
And the Friday elixir to forget
If I can
March 15, 1996
There’s so much to say about this poem. To give the last few poems that were written between January–March of 1996 more context, my mother was experiencing another slow descent into madness. Meanwhile my father’s depression grew in breadth and depth, and in his isolation he found solace in substance abuse.
I was 13, living the torment of middle school as a 7th-grader and completely oblivious to the drugs. My diary is mostly filled with notes of my own type of heartbreak in regards to my first boyfriend, from what I recall. I’ll have to dig it out and see if I’d bothered to write about what my parents were going through. To me, my mother’s condition was to be expected– she had had what we called breakdowns every 2-3 years since I could remember. I was wrought with anguish, wondering what Mommy would do next. She would spend hours upon hours sitting in the bathroom, staring at the wall and laughing periodically. I certainly couldn’t speak to her about anything normal, so I spent most of my time observing, wondering aloud alongside my father about what the plan was for if-and-when we could get her admitted to a mental care facility. Personally I was mostly trying to excel in school and be well-behaved soas not to worry my father any more than was necessary, and also teaching myself how to shave my legs reading Seventeen magazine.
Throughout the years of my childhood, there were a handful of moments when friends, their family members and other concerned adults in my life asked me, point blank, if my father was doing drugs. He denied it to me vehemently, until one day he couldn’t deny it to me any longer (a story for another day). This poem gives me context for his submission into the darkness that was drug abuse.
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