Darkness Before Dusk

This is the original poem

Darkness before Dusk
You come to me at dusk on a city street
Hand out
Manner obsequious
Eyes glazed
Speech slurred
By whatever substance has you
Still a beautiful looking young man
Addiction has not yet ravaged you outwardly
But inwardly
The destruction has begun
Desperation driving you to beg from strangers
Some treat you with scorn
They cannot comprehend
The price you are beginning to pay for an error in judgement
My heart weeps for you
I think of my son
How daily he struggles
His body and being ravaged by depression and addiction
He now knows
What you cannot yet see
The price to be paid for momentary oblivion
Is far too high
If only we could see
Drugs can put weapons
Into the hands of our torment
Inflicting slow pain-filled destruction
A destruction that doesn’t stop with the body
It reaches into the addict’s being
Stealing self control – self esteem – self respect
With some it even takes the will to live
Still not satisfied it moves on
Its voracious hunger feeding
On the families and loved ones of the addict
Addiction can slice through
The beautiful fabric of love
Leaving holes that can take years to mend
In some cases all that is left of love
Is a tattered remnant that cannot be salvaged
You come to me at dusk on a city street
For Money
If my money could buy you Insight
I would willingly give you all I have
Tricia 7/1998                                       

About triciabertram

I have written all my life. Writing helps me to make sense of a world I often don’t understand. Poetry is my supreme solace, closely followed by literature and music. When my son ended his life in 1999 I embarked on the most difficult journey of my life, my grief journey. To survive in this unknown, harsh landscape I had to write. It was for me, the only way I could even begin to move forward. Then in 2009 my darling husband died suddenly and so my journey continues. I write about other issues but because of my life experience, grief and death are continuing themes in my writing life. In our culture I believe there is a fear of death, an inability to accept the inevitability of our mortality, and this creates enormous difficulties for the bereaved and those around them. I have begun this blog in the hope I will create a small ripple in the pond of fear that is currently drowning the reality of death and grief. I will continue to skim the stones of my truth, watch them bounce, and see how many ripples I can make.

Posted on November 12, 2013, in Poems. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. I don’t have the words.

    This has touched me deeply. Deeply. The published version is a pale imitation of these beautiful, heart wrenching, insightful words.

    On re-reading the published version after reading these words, I have grown to dislike it (the published version). I’m sorry. It just feels like it’s in fancy dress. Unwilling to face the reality of the situation which is usually the greatest strength of your poetry in my humble opinion.

    The published poem is interesting, well written, many other *nice* things. But it isn’t a patch on this raw, heart wrenching, passionate work of art.

    I wish Ken had had time to bring it to life x

    • Dear, dear Pooky. Thank you for seeing the power of this poem. And yes, the published one is a pale imitation, but that’s what the ‘poetry police’ want, and that’s not what I have to give.
      My husband, Rod, was still alive when I was going through this rewriting process. He would pick me up from the Centre for Adult Education, in the city (where the poetry classes were held) and I would weep all the way home. I felt I was cutting my heart up, piece by piece. It wasn’t a literary thing, it was more that I felt, in my determination to have something of the poem published, I was betraying my son and myself. Each edit was….

      Rod, lived to see it accepted for publication but died before it was published. When the cheque arrived I said to him, now I have a sense of how a prostitute feels. I never cashed the cheque. I framed it initially, then smashed the frame into pieces during a grief storm.

      This is such a complex issue for me because on the day of the book launch as I stood in the packed Cathedral and read my edited poem, I experienced such mixed feelings. Grief can be a kind of madness at times, and on the day of the launch I was so tempted to read the original, but it would have been wrong, although I know my son would have been highly amused if I had.

      I’m not sorry I edited the poem (in truth I wrote a separate poem) because I learnt a lot from the experience. Also the book being launched in the place we 3 attended an art exhibition the day before Ken died, is something that is beyond words.

      For a time I was a member of a local poetry group and we self published a selection of our poems. Then I went to my first Freefall workshop and found my writing home. I learnt to have respect for my poetic voice, and realised that others were moved by what I had to say.

      Thanks again, Pooky. I’m so glad to have you and my other blogging friends in my life. You, Christine, and Debra give me a sense of being loved and nurtured. And I’m making some new blogging friends who inspire and enrich my life.
      Big mushy hugs

      • Do you think if you were in the same situation again now you would rewrite the poem?

        I think perhaps not?

        It sounds like a whole series of conflict emotions.

        Thank you for sharing both poems and for sharing the story behind them. Neither easy writing or reading but I feel like I’ve learnt a lot about you and Ken and Rod for which I’m grateful – and I think it’s important that this beautiful poem is shared here even if it isn’t something that the poetry police would approve of.

        Sending love and hugs your way. x

  2. Tricia thankyou for sharing this version with us. It’s difficult to say what I feel as my response to your poem is so emotional…
    This poem is beautiful and valuable. I am sorry to hear you suffered for the sake of having your written art published. And yet I feel blessed that you have shared this vulnerable part of yourself us.
    I can appreciate the published poem for the touching piece it is. And I concur with all of Pookie’s comments, and that it is a pale version of the depth and strength of the original, yet I can understand why it has ended up like that.

    I guess I am looking for emotional meaning in my life, which feels so barren at times. Finding it within this community. Both writing and reading, and especially in any piece that moves me as much as yours.
    So thank YOU again. Be encouraged to share here and know that we appreciate and welcome you with understanding and love.

    • “So thank YOU again. Be encouraged to share here and know that we appreciate and welcome you with understanding and love.”

      Hear Hear x

    • Thanks, Peter, your words mean a lot to me. We do have a lovely little blogging community don’t we. We touch each other, make each other think, encourage and inspire. Rather wonderful I think. I find it stimulating and rewarding. x

  3. Those last four lines …

  4. Wow, Tricia! I am SO glad for these two posts, side by side, to really give me a very clear understanding of what you’re talking about when you reference the pain of writing for the poetry police versus the connection you feel to your son when you are given the wings to write with honest freedom. I really got it!

    The published poem is somehow beautiful to read. The words are perfectly placed and the rhythms are tight. But there’s NOTHING pretty about addiction and the second poem takes us in for an entirely different experience. For all the explanations you’ve provided I still can’t quite figure out why the second poem (which is an entirely different poem) had to be sacrificed. It was eviscerated! And why is it that brute honesty isn’t palatable poetry? Well, that’s a very narrow interpretation of life and art.

    I’m so glad you have found your Freefall poetry group. There must be incredible energy and acceptance in that group of writers. I feel very honored that you take the time to share with us in the blogging community, too. It is such a gift to us to be allowed into such an intimate grief. I am aware of what it must cost you, Tricia. oxo

    • Debra, I eventually found comfort in coming to the realisation that I didn’t rewrite this poem, I wrote a second poem based on the same experience. I value your feedback and the feedback of others who follow my blog. There’s something life giving in being heard and understood.
      My writer’s group are very special to me. I’d be lost without them. It was one of my writer’s group who set up my blog for me because I’m a computer doofus. 🙂
      Thanks so much my friend, hugs, Tricia. x

  5. Thank you for sharing this “Tricia” version of the poem Tricia.

    It moved me beyond words. I re-felt all the feelings of hopelessness that addiction brings and it was actually frightening to read. I don’t feel at all complacent in my recovery but if ever I do then I have something here to read which will restore my gratitude for every sober day I live.

    Your last verse is absolutely wonderful, and gives the whole poem a heartfelt hug.

    There is no comparison between the two poems. This one is raw and hard working, coming from “below stairs” where the nitty gritty happens. the published one feels a bit like the upper classes sitting gently poised drinking out of clinking china cups, sweeping nitty gritty under the carpet. – Ive been watching too much Downton Abbey! Maybe a slightly frivolous analogy but nevertheless meant seriously and heartfelt.

    Love and hugs my lovely friend

    • Addiction is a frightening thing. I’ve had my own battles. After Ken died I fed thousands of dollars into poker (slot) machines. I hated myself but felt unable to stop. I just wanted to lose myself. Rod was so patient and understanding, and I had a terrific psychologist whose help was beyond words. These days I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my back, but like you, I’m never complacent. I know I must never go near them again. One of the pluses of my inability to get around much is it’s too difficult and painful for me these days.
      I really liked your “below stairs” and “clinking china cups” analogy.
      I’ve written a haiku based on the last verse. I must dig it out and post it.
      Thank you my dear sweet friend for sharing so honestly. It means so much to me.
      Love you so much. ❤
      Big hugs
      Tricia xoxo

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