THEY WERE BEACONS ONCE
They are out there.
You know them by their void,
Their masks of nothingness.
But they are something and voracious –
Consuming, in large amounts,
Their prey rage in vain
Then submit in silence;
No distress signals sent –
Even sound is consumed (and light)
In their dark bellies.
But they were beacons once
And they shined.
Addiction can be so consuming that it turns shining people into metaphorical black holes. It has the power, with drugs and alcohol, at least, to destroy people so completely that we eventually "know them by their void,/their masks of nothingness."
Thoreau wrote: “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” This profound statement has its application in the struggle with addiction. In order to effectively take one’s life back, it is important to understand what addiction is and what it’s primary causes are so that we can strike at its root rather than just hacking at its branches.
Hungarian-Canadian physician, Gabor Maté defined addiction as follows:
"Any behavior that a person finds relief in and therefore craves in the short-term, but suffers negative consequences in the long-term and doesn't give up despite the negative consequences."
Importantly, Dr. Maté also explains that addiction is not a moral failure or an indication of weakness. “Addiction is not the primary problem. It’s an attempt to solve a problem.”
In this episode of The Poet (delayed), I'm joined by Las Vegas based therapist, Brad Singletary as we read my poem, "They Were Beacons Once," and have a discussion about addiction, its cause and recovery.
I'd love to hear what you have to say about the episode including thoughts on the poetry and the topics that were discussed. You can email me at [email protected].
My first book of poetry, My Mother Sleeps, is availabe for purchase at
- Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong by Johann Hari — The opposite of addiction isn't sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.
- How Childhood Trauma Leads to Addiction by Gabor Mate — Addiction: Any behavior that a person finds relief and therefore craves in the short-term, but suffers negative consequences in the long-term and doesn't give up despite the negative consequences.
- Gabor Mate Discusses Addiction, including the cause and approaches to recovery — "Addiction is not a choice that anybody makes; it's not a moral failure; it's not an ethical lapse; it's not a weakness of character; it's not a failure of will, which is how our society depicts addiction nor is it an inherited brain disease, which is how the medical tendency is to see it but what it actually is is it's a response to human suffering."
- The Alpha Quorum — Brad Singletary and I discussed this men's group he started during this episode of The Poet (delayed)
- Faces of Addiction