Syringe

In 1999, Mike Fitzgibbons published a novel, My Senior Year, a fictional account of a teen’s senior year in high school. The novel received independent rave reviews from a panel commissioned by the publisher. In 2015, Fitzgibbons published a book of narrative poetry titled, The Light Within, a group of “story poems” which follow the themes Fitzgibbons champions – there is light and hope in stories of love everywhere.

Author/Poet

Available here.

It sat on the dresser next to the phone and the charger

     and the alarm clock Ricky never used          or needed

     many mornings he would bolt upright with a chill he only knew when high

and hurting and strung out

     many mornings he would awake in a cold sweat after not really sleeping

but he was because he remembered the dreams and the dreams were nightmares

and many mornings he would open his eyes and be in the same exact spot

     as he was when he closed them     no cold no sweat no nightmares

But always on time.

 

Some mornings in the shower he would almost feel the pinpricks

     The thousands of past holes in his body     from past injections

He administered to himself

The scars were there     he knew it      he knew he couldn’t see them all

                                                                  he knew he couldn’t find them all

                                                                  he knew he couldn’t really feel them all

But he remembered every one.

 

As he left home and drove to work each day     how could he have a house

                                                                                   how could he have a car     

                                                                                   how could he have a job

how could he be alive     with health     with freedom     with a wife     pregnant

 

He sat in the same chair at the 7 am meeting every day

     Thinking not judging just listening and trying to love and give back

“I knew then I had hit bottom…”      Ricky hoped the guy was flexible

     Bottoms fall out     to new bottoms     and newer bottoms

And 11 rehab trips of all kinds that told him there are no tops no bottoms only is.

 

He always thought of Jenny then     and the guilt would begin

     At the top of his head and work down     at the soles of his feet and work up

Sweating in panic at a meeting trying to be present     where he was ok now

     How she looked like an angel in her casket

     How that was gonna be their last time and rehab together

     How her face got that early high smile that intoxicated him by itself

     How he rolled over after waking from his daze

          And she lay there as if asleep but he knew from the drool she was gone

     How her brothers dragged him from McGuinn’s Funeral Home

          And beat him to a pulp in the parking lot

              And he never raised his hands because he knew he deserved it

There were 18 months of no rehab haze after that

     Half expecting to never wake up     half the time sorry he did

 

The policeman’s name badge said Greg.

     You want to die go ahead but not in my park and not on my shift

          Is it your bench

     They’re all my benches until I get off in the morning

          I sleep here every night

     Wrong. You slept here every night. Not anymore.

They stared at each other.     Ricky was frozen, and it was 52 degrees.

          What do I do where do I go    he said through his slobber

     Why not get you cleaned up, Mr…          Ricky didn’t know he wanted a name

          Ricky

     Ok, Mr. Ricky. I’m Mr. Greg. 

 

He was in a tank that day     in pain and scrubbing floors and between tile

     With a toothbrush            in pain and howling like a coyote at the night terrors

     Wetting himself                in pain and flashbacks always of hurt faces

     Vomiting every day          in pain

The first of the days that 11th time was December 14th

     His 5 year chip would be next week

     Denise and he planned a quiet dinner with her folks

     His family was scattered     but maybe this Christmas would take his call

 

He buttoned his shirt     and leaned across the bed to kiss his wife on the cheek

     “Love you. I’ll call at lunch.” “Ok. Love you back.” She spoke through her sleep.

He glanced at the clock     he glanced at the charger

     He glanced at the syringe he used on December 13     5 years before

Said a prayer of thanks     and walked out the door.    

Below is another original poem written by Michael Fitzgibbons that is an example of what is coming in his next collection.

Click below to hear "Syringe" read aloud by Michael Fitzgibbons.

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