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Celebrating National Poetry Month – Poem by Jim Dwyer

A brief heroically wasted life was not after all what i was after

a musty anonymous church basement room

a close to opaque cloud of silver-blue cigarette smoke

a cup of hi-test styrofoam coffee

a merciless orange plastic chair

the usual pre-meeting buzz & chatter

the banter the world class palaver

this strange fellowship of stranger characters

(where my strangeness isn’t even all that strange)

these sometimes lucid now & again blind sort of brilliant

stumbling ecstatic lucky ludicrous perfect imperfections

these are the average unbelievable people

who plain & simple saved

my average behind…

they didn’t lecture or moralize

demand allegiance obedience or submission

mostly they made suggestions sought wisdom & told stories–:

stories like a boxer’s disaster nose his cauliflower ears

stories like a clown’s alarming slapstick dance on the highwire

stories about everything & nothing

& how much they both matter

stories about the runaways who make it home

& the ones who never do

stories that broke my heart like a birthday pinata

stories that convinced me that maybe just maybe

i wasn’t as special & all alone as i thought

& that possibly perhaps this might be a good time

for me to shut up & do some listening

stories that told a story about addiction

& how it corrupts you body mind & soul

a chronic progressive fatal addiction

although you don’t have to die from it they said

unless you absolutely insist on it…

ask for some help & follow this path they told me

& even though right now you think it’s impossible

you can in fact learn how to live

inside your own skin without drinking or using drugs–:

you can face yourself face up to your past

work to make your amends

work at being less of a selfish jerk

& believe it or not you can find a life–:

a useful decent creative messy contradictory

bittersweet ordinary human life

& if you stick with it

if you practice your practice & stay reasonably real

you will sooner or later get your chance to pass it on

to give away what was given to you

& you can do it too

because you know what it’s like to be desperate

to be fresh out of excuses wisecracks & clever comebacks

to be standing at that doorway

angry ashamed afraid

& wondering how the hell did i wind up here?…

the amazing transformational grace of human solidarity

that was the magic that was the gift

that was what they gave me

instead of what i deserved…

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Turning Points of View