Poetry from Alex Johnson

Withdrawal A Rant

This morning someone
shot up a waffle house, strapped and naked
squared up to shoot right
and it’s awful but it happens once a week
we were waiting for the wheel to turn again
and next they’ll be parachuting in balls flying
shooting family restaurants in rows
and massacre will be exponential
so someone will start the betting
and wager on the details
massacre with pancakes and nudity versus
massacre with schools and fully clothed with some hiding naked versus
does any of this make sense I’m sorry
you’re right it’s a tragedy but very soon if not already
I haven’t checked in an hour
somebody in power will seriously suggest
weapons grade waffle syrup
to throw at the shooter and blind them
anything rather than take away their fucking guns
because guns are more sacred in America than human life
unless it’s the life of the elite

and my brain’s on fire
it’s been burning for a solid fucking month now
my personality to the ground like buckets of acid
I can’t stand but I’m fallen
and I can barely hear my own heartbeat thrumming
for the gasps and sobs and sighs
and nobody said anything about hot lava
about angry gnats in your head night after night
about prayers that come out malformed and backwards
and you think you’ve got some damage nobody ever warned you about
and the brain strength is faded and puling
like a little ghost caught in a powerful undertow
and the entire thing you are blasted forever and ever
only it doesn’t stop it never stops for relief
and suffering can make you mad
it can kill your soul
unless you scream
and after you scream
and while you’re screaming
and my brain’s on fire you understand
it shorts out and shorts out and shorts out
like a series of firecrackers pop pop pop
and this lasts all night
only it doesn’t stop there
it carries on into the morning
along with the ice-blade of fear
which only grates against the blackened meat
and the next day
and the next night
and the next day
and the next night
and prayers are nothing
but neural spasms poured down the drain

and the beauty part is I took this shit for DEPRESSION
because I didn’t have a fucking JOB
and I”m hanging over the edge of economic abyss
but it made me worse and worse and so
I withdrew and then the real inferno started

And you are become dead the destroyed of worlds
not Shiva but his effect
and when you say this people know you are insane
while so many people in America gasp for relief from
some sort of Hell
so many people in the world
maybe their brains aren’t on fire but look
at the demon dumping toxic death from on high
and in the rivers death snaps
and on the freeways death stands
like a face-eating clown
and another caravan is turned away
from the border like a man whose lips are cracked and bleeding
denied the soothing the healing water
and execrated and judged and rated
as human beings boil like lobsters in their tanks
and let loose a harrowing shriek
before disease and poverty and insanity eats them
God damn it I’m upset
and my brain’s on fire but you get that
and I’m sorry for everything I ever did or didn’t do
and this morning at my church where I go for sanctuary some
rich doctor lady asked my dad–not me–“what does he DO?”
even thought I’m sitting right fucking there
and he said I was an author
and she asked of what
and I tried to put the whole thing in words that made sense
as she stood and judged and her head bobbed on its base
and later the more I thought about it the angrier I got
because who is she to look down
on someone who is fucking suffering
and a doctor of all people
and a doctor who believes she is SPIRITUAL of all things
fuck that lady
and fuck your condescension
and I’m sorry for your patients
and I’m sorry for anybody who comes to see you in
because a church is supposed to be a place of peace
where bodies and souls come to be saved
and healed from the opprobrium of the world
and if I had the courage or thought it would do
any good whatsoever
I would ask her HEY DOCTOR
do you have anything in your kit bag for
but no I didn’t think so
with your three graduate degrees besides a medical degree
standing there in church receiving praise
like a Queen with an audience
and I feel all my life people have been looking and asking
what does he do what does he do what does he do
and when I show them examples they’ve got nothing to say
which may be merciful
but is almost worse than saying IS THAT ALL?
and I”m sure if this woman with all her prestige and success
had to endure ONE week of brain on fire
she would go down on her knees and pray
for the forgiveness of all she’s treated this way
so anyhow yes you are the subject of my poem
and why I am so fucking bent right now
and my answer to WHAT HE DOES IS
how about WHAT HE IS
a human being who shouldn’t have to justify himself
especially in church
on a Sunday morning in Carmichael.