They Were Beacons Once

Episode 20 · March 6th, 2023 · 1 hr 5 mins

About this Episode


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

The King's English Bookshop


Holding my book at The King's English Bookshop

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