Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Poem About the Heroin Plague

I have now heard of three people close to our community who have died from heroin overdoses in the past couple years. All three were young men in their early 20's or 30's. All three were raised in homes with significant advantages, not in poverty-stricken ghettoes. We need to understand this epidemic and respond to it, even if it means taking some chances, revising our laws, trying new approaches. Otherwise we will drown in the flood of sorrow unleashed by these deaths.

The Terrible Plague

This mysterious, terrifying plague,
125 people overdosing every day from heroin—
most young adults, their future ahead of them,
some the losers in this zero-sum society,
others seemingly on top of the heap—

In toilets, in bedrooms, in alleys, they inject the poison
that brings such ecstasy, or such agony,
roll the dice
spin the cylinder of the gun,
this Russian Roulette.

There are things we can do
to offer treatment, hope,
or at minimum a safe place to inject this poison
(where we might offer clean needles, have medical people nearby,
Narcan at the ready)--

but we do nothing,
and the ripples of heartbreak
keep spreading out and out until

we are all smeared with
blood, poison, and despair.

[Bob Coughlin / 24 February 2016]

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