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Kurt Cole Eidsvig

Keeping the Beat [AUDIO]

in Health by

1.

They invented OxyContin
          and put heroin out of business.
Then they invented Narcan too
          just to keep them coming back
for more. Doc Norman swore

his autograph and signature
          looked the same to discerning
eyes because dude got so famous
          for finding back pains in disguise
people came from miles around
          just to hear his name out loud.

There are different definitions of mine shaft. There are different forms of a canary. 

They screamed with glee and Norman
          turned to “Doc Narcan,” before “Narcan Sam,”
and he had a mural of a big bald eagle flying
          out front of the American Flag
at his office suite down Quincy Center—
          all those pre-4th celebrations at the door.

2.

When they caught him selling scrip pads,
          signed and swirled for days, they confined
him to house arrest, gave him a free ankle
          bracelet waterproofed for his Newton
swimming pool. Watch now on the news
          the way they say cancer patients
shouldn’t have to pay for chemo if dopeheads
          get free shots to bring them coming back
          to life.

They forget to mention— we forget
          to mention— the subsidies we gave
the pharmaceutical companies
          to build a better tax scam. They got
slapped on the wrist, got fitted for an anklet;

we flicked Bics to flesh and wore out
          silver bracelets. Like last time I saw Collins
he swore he’d only use the needle for the juice.
          But they found him dead
          later the next day, swollen and ripped up
like a bad report card is what he’d
          always say. Bloated and dead like a back
pain patient who caught a habit instead
          and couldn’t find another way.

There’s Methadone Mile and Quincy Center,
          and there’s liquid handcuffs
and sweet surrender. You can recognize a disease
          like you can recognize an enemy
and still invite them back for more. First kid in Southie
          to get the bug got famous—no kidding,
famous—for catching it from the needle
          and not the sex.

Boy bought a Zorro mask and starred in snuff films
          produced in a warehouse down the Combat Zone
before the Feds found the meth lab out back. You read
          the news about the gasmasks and long slow
poisonous fumes, the fella tied up to a chair
          in what used to be Fort Point. He had on S&M gear
like there’d been a party with no one else invited,
          except whoever tied him to the chair and left.

Except whoever tied him to a chair and left him there,
          we said, we asked, we noticed. There are different
definitions of mine shaft. There are different forms
          of a canary. Where are you with the sharp
fingernails for untying, the pedicures we helped pay
          for? And when are you ever coming back?

The problem now the police are having is giving Narcan with no strings attached. It’s something close to loving.

4.

‘Twas the firefighters who called methadone
          liquid handcuffs first because they watched
bruised vampires and zombies stagger back
          for more and more each and every day. You say
vampire and think of movies but we hear the needles. You read
          zombie           and apocalypse descends; we hear the thumping
needless drum of shoes. So now when first responders
          speak  of strings, there’s last chance singers
belting out soundtracks of survival. You can call them
          puppet ropes or hanging nooses, the strangled straps of
slow survival. And the dealers toss up sneakers
          knotted tight and let them hang or dangle down
from telephone wires to show the spot to stand. Different
          dealers pay the MBTA to print flyers with side effects
to be sure to ask your doctor for when you find a place
          to stand. Still now, as the dealers get different deals.

5.

Be there still. Be still here, and come
          they will with magic packets close at hand.
If you stare down at your lifeline long
          enough every person can predict
their future. The problem now the police
          are having is giving Narcan with no strings
attached. It’s something close to loving. Only
          arguing at death.

To learn to love is to stop keeping score
          they used to say. And so we save 1 and 2
and count to 6 and stop. And we count to 6 once
          more and stop. Pump the chests and earn
the silver linings now and stop. Our spoons cook off
          and mix with melting as we learn to mix
once more. So every one of us has silver
          coursing now beneath our skin and legs
and arms, a city filled with Tin Men hearing nothing
          more of drums;  a sea of people respond
to something else
          without the benefit of heartbeat sounds
          to guide us anymore.   


Read More:
Police respond to eight overdoses in Quincy in less than 48 hours [WCBV-TV]
Former medical assistant charged in prescription forgeries [Delaware Online]
Massachusetts Attorney General warns state fund for life saving Narcan purchases is almost empty [Mass Live]
Drug Overdoses Now Kill More Americans Than Guns [CBS News]

Kurt Cole Eidsvig is an artist and poet. His work has appeared in Hanging Loose, Slipstream, Borderlands, Main Street Rag, and other journals. 

Artwork, entitled “Tourniquet”, by the poet.

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