Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Kate Daniels: In the Midst of the Heroin Epidemic

When I heard the news that Cynthia’s daughter

had died, all alone, slumped over on the ground

beside a dumpster behind the convenience store

where she’d made her final buy, I logged off, and

walked outside to look at the water before I could think

too much.  It’s become a habit now – losing myself

in the soothing image of moving water before the headlines

and the stats start blaring out the way they do – performing

themselves inside my mind that has always imagined

too vividly too much…  You think too much, my parents

always said. But thinking about this, or not thinking

won’t reverse the events that have captured Cynthia

or bring back the daughter who’s been carried away

in an opening chapter of a terrible plot. Addicts destroy

themselves – that’s just where we start.   And why

they might have wanted to, or if it was an accident

is beside the point… The aftermath is what’s at stake.

The human flotsam captured in addiction’s filthy wake.

Ordinary citizens like Cynthia with her stone face

and her dead blue eyes.  Single mother of one child,

deceased.  She works at the bakery down the block

from me.  I pay her for a cappuccino and a buttered roll

every morning on my way to work.  Afterwards,

I linger on the wooden pier, and drown my eyes

in the river’s watery embrace, and lick butter

from my fingers, and fill my head with the strong smell

of hot coffee Cynthia poured for me.  Small actions

that distract.  They minimize, but can’t efface,

any of the suffering.


Copyright 2018 Kate Daniels. From In the Months of My Son’s Recovery, by Kate Daniels. Forthcoming from LSU Press (2019)


Kate Daniels

One comment on “Kate Daniels: In the Midst of the Heroin Epidemic

  1. barbala2013
    May 28, 2018

    Another fine Kate Daniels poem

    Liked by 1 person

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