Two Poems – Grant Quackenbush

Francis Bacon - Triptych 1944

Francis Bacon – Triptych 1944

 
Overdose

His build was too slight
for the amount of heroin
he shot. His heart

slowed. Blood
became mud,
mud tar. He felt

a window shatter
in a bright
room inside him. Glass

flew like fanged
bats from his throat.
Someone spoke. He wasn’t

breathing. He wasn’t
doing anything
but staring at the ceiling.


 
 

Saturday

He woke up in a bathtub, not so much hungover as he was still drunk. He felt woozy. His mouth was dry. His tongue was a swollen cat’s, his nose a bat cave of shit. That night, or morning, he had been offered cocaine. He had accepted. He had also taken a cold shower with all his clothes on, including shoes, after yelling “I’m gonna die! I’m gonna die! Somebody help me I’m gonna die!” That’s when he woke. Or, not so much woke as regained consciousness. He was soaked. He was shivering. He picked a sharp, blood-encrusted booger like a stalactite from his right nostril with his left thumb and flicked it at the drain. It transferred to his flicking finger. He flicked it again and it stuck to the shower wall. He left it. Outside the windowless bathroom he could hear the murmurs of morning voices. He hated those voices. He felt repulsed by those voices. He dreaded opening the door and walking out past the people who spoke them, saying hello, good morning, how are you. He thought he heard his name. Suddenly he remembered he had to be at work at 7am. He had to help open the doughnut shop he’d got hired at the week before. He took his flip phone out of his pocket. Broken. Milk-blue light flooded in from the space beneath the door. He would be fired. That much was certain. And then what? The same thing over again? He thought about his rent and how it was due. About his mom who he paid his rent. “A hundred dollars,” she’d said. “Just so you can start contributing.” But he couldn’t even manage that. He thought briefly of the future and of his place in it. Of the things he would have to do as an adult to stay alive. It frightened him. He stood, farted, undressed with difficulty. Wrung out his socks, jeans, Joy Division t-shirt, then put them back on with even greater difficulty. He went to the door and pressed his ear against it. Waited. Waited some more. When he could no longer hear any voices, he turned the knob and stepped out into the day.

 

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