When I was eight or nine
I started drinking
and smacking my pretend wife
when she came over to play,
me and my friends in the hood
would play cops and
on the dark side streets
just north of Eight Mile
where the streetlights never came on
where we never went back inside
to our parents, guardians,
or single mothers
who were strung out on meth
or puking up whiskey
after another man left.
My dad was always there for me though
he taught me how to love a woman
with my fist
and how to throw a bottle
through the window
then board it up
before the landlord started bitching.
But I don't know how to shave
change a tire
or what the difference is between a flathead
and a phillips
or even how to use a damned screwdriver
or wrench . . .
so tell me,
how am I supposed to fix myself
when I can't fix anything else?
Lip Rings and Barbed Wire
When I showed you my body
I put down my hair for you
removed the piercings
and let the studded bracelets drop
to the floor . . .
You, the only one to ever see me naked
of both my clothing and my walls
and realized that Chase wasn't nearly as strong
as he looked.
You saw the slashing patterns in the scars
that I told you were from fights,
and you realized they were only from fights
with tired old demons . . .
you saw how my pale skin looks strange
and unnatural without the counterweight of darkness
achieved so easily with black shirts and bandannas.
I was your other half
your yin yang symbol
behind the white backdrop of the world
when the dark parts of me left--
I don't exist to you anymore,
and I don't think I care.
I have trouble sleeping now
not because I miss you
but because I don't wash my mohawk out anymore,
and it's hard to lay comfortably
with that row of hard black spikes
glued up six inches
from my pale scalp
like barbed wire around my prettiest dreams and thoughts
preventing them from ever escaping
I swallow the anti depressant
with a big swig of wine,
the one that's bottle warns
"do not drink alcoholic beverages
while taking this medication"
But after a few glasses
the wine bottle begins to say
"do not swallow anti depressants
while drinking this medication"
I start laughing, hysterically at my own drunken humor
then shove my fingers down my throat
and puke up
what I hope is the pill,
and continue laughing
not because my puke is shaped like Texas.
Then, I remember a girl I dated
who lived in Texas
the one who got away,
so I drink a few more glasses
until I throw up some more
and the Texas looks like Alaska
or the pacific ocean.
Chase Gagnon is a poet from Detroit, who is addicted to drinking coffee in the night while reading Bukowski. His poems have been published in places such as Otoliths, Bones, Modern Haiku, Teen Ink, Hedgerow, and Frogpond just to name a few.