Poetry from Tony Nightwalker LeTigre

goodwill gone bad

didn’t it used to be cheaper?
I swear, there’s new stuff at Wal-Mart for sale for less than this
donated shoes for fifty dollars?
security closely watching the floor?

imagine a huge free pile
where people throw all their giveaways
open to the sky & free for the taking:
a mound of unspoiled human generosity

“the money we make helps us fund all the programs we offer,”
says the clerk in a perky voice
& it helps pay your CEO that million-dollar salary he enjoys
what programs does Goodwill offer?
job search assistance, that’s right
the one time I tried to make use of that, they told me,
“the only position we have right now
is a receptionist for the church of scientology”

I decided to pass on that

GIVE says the sign
yes, I agree
but not to Willamette Week
not to Goodwill, International INC. (emphasis mine)
not to nonprofit wolves in sheep’s clothing
directly to the people who need it

white yuppie privilege

at Peet’s, sipping coffee purchased with a christmas-present gift card
only place I have to warm up on this holiday
(christmas was a lot nicer indoors)
small cafe, seats filled
white arrogant yuppie couple comes in
complains about no place to sit
long-term portland resident gets up wordlessly
to yield his seat to these crocodiles
who promptly sit down & begin talking with their fellows at the next table
about what part of california they come from,
& how nice the real estate is here

and the tourists wonder
why I’m so rude
when I almost knock them down at Powell’s books

and the new gentry wonders
why there are so many houseless people sprouting up everywhere

look in the mirror, creepazoids
you’ll find at least part of the answer
to your oh so pressing vexations
they could make a movie about you
“Invasion of the Property Snatchers”



frozen fingers

slept outside again last night
in the leeway of a foursquare church
that was kind enough to leave its searchlights on
so I could read myself to sleep
except it was too cold to read

didn’t sleep well
took a sleeping pill at 330 am
thinking I’d sleep in a bit
woke up at 730 am to a large black man shouting
fight-or-flight surge: norepinephrine reflex
but he’s “nice” I suppose
I hope you’re warm enough
You’re welcome to sleep here
but please don’t leave any garbage when you leave!
Here’s a receptacle to throw it in”
He stresses the garbage thing several times
If I’d just throw myself in the bin it’d be more convenient I suppose

I’m not warm enough, actually, but… thanks for the hope
I walk away rubbing sleep out of my eyes
with frozen fingers & toes
trying to contain my falling-apart sleeping bag
thinking, “I’m supposed to be grateful for this, I guess”

stash my stuff in a hopefully safe spot
go to the yuppie grocery pavilion
buy coffee I could have made free if I had a house
go to pour almond milk on my granola for breakfast
the milk that spend the night outside with me
it’s frozen: doesn’t pour


The Moment We Decide to Rise, We Thrive


Welcome back to the world you’ve neglected
it’s been missing you lately, punk
(image: Alphonse Mucha, “Dawn”)
today begins now just a new year
but a new life, as we put to rest a twenty-two year curse+blessing
(ages eighteen to forty)
that has long outlived its usefulness
not with reluctance but with relief,
for if at first in our intrepid & clueless youth
it resembled a trove of toys & keys to fresh dimensions of alt mind adventure,
it has for awhile now felt a lot more like
a bundle of junk & dirt encumbering us on an increasingly weary journey
so we are happy to strike out into this tabula rasa
to cast off the drug-&-booze yoke
to go straight to the yogic source & stop ripping ourselves off enriching those rapscallions
to sally forth & start anew in a town on the edge of Philly
founded by welsh quakers
with a sizable Irish American population
core of the seven-million-strong Delware Valley conurbation
a mere twenty-dollar round-trip bus ride to NYC
IOW: just about anything is possible now

we wake without a trace of hangover
to see where this new day takes us
& the storm they warned us was coming
seems to have chickened out

but before we move forward, let’s recap:
the dregs of druggy darkness & penisolation
when I lived in SF I was high on meth
for two straight years, the second one was intravenous
quit, for the most part, three years ago, January 2013:
that’s when it switched from a daily way of life
to the occasional binge & purge
I’ve only shot up a few times since moving
back to Puddletown in spring 2015
mostly afraid of & repulsed by needles now
as I was before I ever tried them (if not more so)

one of the last times I binged
I wandered out on Barbur, sequestered myself in a quiet nook
for a weekend, or a week
(makes little difference when you’re a drifter)
had a whole 8ball, savored that security
of knowing you won’t run out any time soon
slept outside, but under cover
mostly smoked & railed lines, but when the bag got low
I got out the few syringes I’d stockpiled “for a rainy day”
loaded up a big shot — knowing it would be all the stronger
for not having injected in so long
thought I’d hit a vein — & promptly MISSED the shot
grotesque lump in my arm where the rush should be
I cursed, incandescent with frustration, almost gave up
but decided to try one more time
loaded up another shot, maybe even bigger
tried a different vein
oh, that rush
one of the intensest I’ve ever felt
hard to imagine, if you don’t know
(but don’t find out)
went on not for seconds but for minutes
thought my heart might burst
had to lay down, catch my breath
eyelids fluttering, on the edge
& then the full dopamine cloud overtook me
felt it go straight to my ‘nads
my dick suddenly bigger & warmer than it’d been in a very long time
(if you think I’m lewd,
don’t be such a prude!)
swooning, drowning in an autoerotic puddle
the day flew by like a clock with wings
that’s why they call it “speed,” I guess
then after a mega-jaculation & a micro nap,
I bundled up for a magic nightwalk
across the silent Sellwood Bridge at 3 a.m.
(under construction & officially closed)
still high, in a kind of afterglow bliss bubble
making up the grammar & vocab of an imaginary language in my head
as I walked, like when I was 15
& had only D & D manuals & Tolkien books for friends
that was a night to write poetry about
I hope Death, after the pangs,
feels something like that

But it isn’t time for Death yet
& I’ve had enough liquor & fireworks to last a year
& maybe the rest of this lifetime
so I woke up sober this morning
to try the grand new experiment
to take on this great challenge
I greet the day with exuberant spirits:
to try living life on its own terms for once
with nothing to hide from
to invest my artistry in more than escape
to fulfill my mother’s sincerest hope
to let my body know I care about it for a change
& nourish it with more than running-on-empty energy
instead of treating it like a muddy old pair of boots
to break each sentence, like an egg,
into the perfect omelet of poetry & philosophy
(the things I value most, in defiance of this crass commercial pseudoculture)
to see what we can accomplish without one hand tied behind our back,
with our shit together, unblindfolded, by the light of day
so many things not to miss:
shaky hands, clotted veins, clotted milk,
empty bottles, empty wallets,
broken bridges, broken promises
missed phone calls & opportunities
so many things to welcome back:
dignity, good judgement, creative fulfillment,
waking up with coffee or tea instead of coke or crystal

time to stop talking & start doing

when we find drugs on the sidewalk,
at the library, or on the MAX,let them lie! pass them by!
be high on life & learn to fly!

yes, I’ve said it before,
made these abstemious promises…
what makes it real this time?
but something IS different
this time

let our sobriety be strong
not a flickering fluorescent bulb
but a stainless pillar of sunlight
not a mangy cat on shaky legs
but a hungry tiger prowling
the forest of a late-summer night

wake early, sober, ready to face the day’s gifts & challenges
excited, privileged to do so
rather than rushed into things at half-mast
blinking in the tawny dawnlight
a bit dazed by our sudden ability
to do just about anything
we put our minds to

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