seconal and wine   I lived on the street
I slept wherever night found me
abandoned buildings   boxes   always
it wants more from you
it wants you
to drink
it doesn’t mind if you die
I didn’t mind

there came a night I had nothing
I went on a roof to kill myself
I prayed first   You
make the decision   let me die
or live
a long sound
Wa . . .   the sound of life
entered my body like a breath

held me   it was warm
a bell hung in my heart
a bell of feeling
glowed in me
then the silence   peace
it was then I got sober
after a vision you have to do it
so the next one can come to you

I want you to know this
sometimes I think I won’t make it
yesterday voices were singing
kill yourself   this
goes on for years after the drugs
right now I’m alive   grateful
if you find it hard to believe
look at me



(From A Long Sound, copyright © 1986 by Joan Larkin. Published by Granite Press, Penobscot, Maine. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any medium, print or electronic, without the author’s written permission, except for brief quotations in reviews.)