30 days of poems: day twenty-four

This poem touched me in many ways. I had held Philip Seymour Hoffman’s hand in meetings in a nondescript location in the Village. His college roommate was once a close friend of mine, and seeing his pain through pictures both recent and ancient on Facebook made my heart break for my friend. I was at work the next day when the man who found him dead, a friend of the company, walked in and told us he’d been the one. And, finally, this poem describes well what it’s like to be addicted to something beyond one’s control, even once one has “recovered.” The temptations never leave, or at best are tempered; for me, it’s the constant knowledge that there used to be a time when a bottle or the sweating class of a Manhattan was the solution to all of my feelings, both good and bad. Most non-addicts/alcoholics don’t understand the constant pull, especially if you come across the thing that once made you feel invincible and are faced with a decision: take it when no one’s looking, or be a hero to almost no one but yourself… and feel like shit afterwards, no matter which decision you made. 

Philip Seymour Hoffman

By Nick Flynn

Last summer I found a small box stashed away in my apartment,
a box  filled with enough Vicodin to kill me.  I would  have sworn
that  I’d  thrown it away years earlier,  but apparently not. I stared
at the white pills blankly for a long while, I even took a picture of
them,  before  (finally, definitely)  throwing  them away.  I’d been
sober  (again)  for  some years  when  I found that box,  but every
addict  has  one— a  little  box,  metaphorical  or  actual— hidden
away.  Before I flushed them  I held them in my palm,  marveling
that  at  some  point in  the  not-so-distant  past it seemed a good
idea  to  keep a  stash of  pills on hand.  For an emergency, I told
myself.  What kind of emergency? What  if  I needed  a root canal
on  a  Sunday  night?  This little  box  would  see me through until
the   dentist   showed   up  for   work  the  next  morning.  Half  my
brain  told  me  that,  while  the other half  knew that  looking into
that  box  was  akin  to  seeing  a photograph of myself standing on
the  edge of a bridge,  a bridge  in the  familiar  dark neighborhood
of  my  mind,   that   comfortable  place   where  I  could  somehow
believe that fuck it was an adequate response to life.