Forbes and Fifth

The ADDict Poems

The Fall of a Poet 

A short time ago, Clotho spun my thread 

with an alcoholic lifeline measured in the sand. 

& with my allotted time, I decided to live amongst the dead, 

the likes of Thomas, Berryman & Lowell, whom I celebrated as   

the most cherished lyrical brethren blessed by the eldest muse Kalliope.  

Who, with wild, restless spirits inhaled bourbon & nicotine 

& spewed lines of poetry now entombed] in the dust-covered 

volumes & anthologies of the Twentieth Century, until— 

breathless, their words & voices were eventually suppressed;  

worn out by the ravages of self-destructive tendency, having remained 

unerring in their capricious ways until the very end, when pulled— 

untimely, into the chthonic world by the hands of Thanatos 

himself.  

Taking a Twelve Step descent, I visit the three nightly, 

tiptoeing like Odysseus through the Adamantine Gates of Hades. 

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Per Diem 

Every night, I find my bartender awaiting me 

like Charon—ready to ferry this wayward soul 

from the anhedonic shores of sobriety. 

  

Each drink I take forces the vessel onward 

through the discarded dreams & broken memories 

of yet another unpublished poète maudit. 

  

En route to oblivion at the River Lethe to rest, 

with heavy conscience, anchor-bound, I plunge 

headlong into the amnesiac waters & drown. 

  

But alas, daybreak comes & I am resurrected, once again 

destined to repeat the addict’s circadian cycle, wherein— 

I sacrifice my liver per diem like Prometheus bound in the Caucasus. 

  

The Eagle of Impulse, with hepatic hunger, hovers high above  

& although I’m in denial, it’s only a matter of time until— 

it descends, with cirrhotic claws outstretched,  

ready to feast upon my already weary flesh.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Alcoholic’s Remorse 

For years, I sold my soul to Dionysus for numbness 

in John Street bars & empty flats with little more than a raggedy mattress. 

 

During the restless days & nights spent skipping meals & sipping bottles that— 

when drained dry, proudly stood  

as monuments to the faded memories of lost time— 

I pleaded to the glass like a crucifix,  

hoping for ardent spirits to deliver me from the void.  

 

But, my unheard prayers & empty words vanished into the firmament of night, 

leaving my tattered reputation stripped bare 

& left to endure— 

the daily lashes of alcoholic self-flagellating despair.  

 

The younger man I once knew,  

who proudly stood with such promise & hope 

was abandoned long ago— 

spiritually beaten, bloodied, & left for dead,  

facedown in the unmarked gutters & alleys 

of this decadent city.  

 

& so, ordained each day, I’d drink from the river Lethe & cross, 

hand-in-hand into oblivion blackouts with my only true friend.   

 

For the bottle never judged, never laughed, never lied,  

& for that, I argue, made it a better companion than 

all friends, coworkers, & romantic partners combined— 

whom, my manic-depression & I chose, without guilt,  

to so easily cast aside. 

 

Alas, another weary spirit laid to rest 

in all those wasted years buried— 

at the bottom of a glass.  

 

 

 

The ADHD Scholar 

Another midnight run & the nocturnal animal sits perched at his desk strenuously scrambling  

through sections of Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. 

His rumbling empty belly occupied this evening (& morning for that matter) with little more than 

 glasses of scotch mixed intermittently with caffeine 

(a writing technique inspired by crossing the habits of Balzac with Bukowski). 

The psychoactive concoction is employed by Cal to help tame the wild beast lingering in the attic  

of his anatomy— 

a beast, with its own tastes & preferences that transcend  

the unappetizing content of the semester’s prescribed syllabi.  

Such content, according to Cal’s divergent-thinking brain, tends to lack any degree of vitality &  

passionate zest,  

having the digestive enticement of sun-soaked gangrene baking in mid-summer heat.  

 

Now, roused to action, Time, the last-minute executioner stands & demands a six-page payment  

by 8:00 am, which,  

if neglected—  

shall be harshly met by the dreaded 10% daily deduction  

& move Cal’s (at best) C minus effort to a D minus or below. 

& if said outcome shall occur, Cal would be breaching his probationary status & with it—  

the ensuant threat of academic expulsion,  

which, in postsecondary terms,  

means receiving the deathly reputational blow of “flunking out”  

(although The College Dropout is still one of his favorite albums).  

The applied pressure for Cal to write this paper, feels as pleasant as having a gun barrel pressed  

against his temple, 

as a voice politely screams, “Type dear boy! Type or die . . .”  

(that is, scholastically speaking). 

 

Cal, the undisputed Procrastinator King, self-medicates by double-fisting espresso with a  

university-budgeted bottle of J&B Rare, 

which, he uses to temporarily deactivate  

the inattentive & hyperactive monster dwelling inside his head.  

& for the next six hours, he works as if possessed by a daimon, guiding him like Ariadne  

through an infinite maze of allegory—  

a voyage through the torrential downpour of iambic pentameter & hexameter 

& the hurricane winds of Spenser’s impenetrably esoteric expression. 

Nearly capsized, the rudderless raft that is Cal’s project, somehow remains afloat in those  

unfamiliar sixteenth-century waters,  

with the hope of eventually arriving at some sort of adequate poetic analysis.  

 

Alas, land ho! The journey reaches its end, as the Captain begins to push the minimal six-page  

vessel to shore;  

rapidly pressing print-screen, print-screen before bolting for the door—   

having no time to change, he rolls out in his two-day unkempt attire.  

With paper baton in hand, Cal will have to deliver a record performance in the mile,  

which, with such little sleep, will feel like Prefontainean pace—   

a do-or-die mentality, as his Oxbridge-trained professor will show 

absolutely no mercy for any poor, unpunctual soul.  

In the end, Cal, the Magician, manages to pull another miraculous nail-biter from his hat;  

although—   

with his unknown condition,  

it certainly won’t be his last.  

 

 

 

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stimulant Flight 321  

Terrified of the dreamscape, Cal, the Magician, transforms himself into an insomniac escape   

artist each night. 

Slipping out of Hypnos’ straitjacket, he vanishes to the Valley of the Apothecary for  

20-milligram tablets of methylphenidate & amphetamine  

(which are harvested by the handful). 

In the mental soup kitchen, Cal, the Chemist, cooks up the Erdős diet with mathematical  

precision,  

which he then washes down with four cups of coffee  

(done for the sake of workaholic propriety).  

 

His sadistic superego stares back at him, smiling & applauding the newly invigorated Cal  

2-point-O,  

who— 

locked in the Luzhin defense, mercilessly works away 

(almost as if he were half man & machine). 

& despite checkmating the hours of the Day, Cal’s ergomaniac mind greedily doubles down—    

by leading an attack to win dominion  

over the hours of Night as well  

(thus committing himself fully  

without having to be temporally interrupted).  

In frenzied surges of vitality, he holds the hands of the clock locked in the positions of 4-&-12,  

forcing his opponent, Time, into submission through—   

his Graciean pharmaceutical jiu-jitsu. 

Now chicken-winged & out of options, Cal’s foe stands still, providing the boy with—   

one . . .  

two . . .  

three days of temporary relief from the deathlike state of slumber. 

 

But eventually, Time regains His strength & breaking free, starts spinning His hands round &  

round like a propeller plane  

taking flight.  

Cal, soaring sky-high on his ADHD meds, eventually finds himself dangerously low on fuel 

which marks—   

the inevitable descent into unoccupied dream territory 

(a most hated place for members of ‘sleep when dead’ 

hustle culture). 

Spiraling downward at terminal velocity, Cal finally sends a necessary distress signal—   

Mayday! 

Mayday! 

Mayday! 

& with pillow in hand, he closes his eyes & braces for impact—  

eventually crashing, head-first, into his wretched mattress.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Discarded Planet  

 After twelve hours of uninterrupted madness locked inside the Cartesian vault, Cal’s  

disembodied mind longs to be teleported back to his body. 

& having been exposed to all manner of metaphysical horror, he carries these images back with  

him like a cirrhotic liver—all distended, discolored, & scarred.  

His hippocampus ransacked & injected with impish scorn, the daemon Epiales having shared all  

these anxiety-inducing scenes  

of capitalist workaholism & the ensuant wasteful consumption that sow the seeds of these  

prophetic Revelations of the Anthropocene.  

 

Riding on the back of the Ashen horse, Cal travels through the bogs of arsenic, cadmium, & lead,  

whose riverways glow a most artificial mixture of FCF Sunset Yellow & Allura Red,  

which, in their unnaturalness beckon pleasant tidings from inanimate sea life that rhythmically  

wash ashore & greet the world with bleached bones & excavated eyes.  

Poetically, they preach from the dead—an environmental memento mori akin to Yorick’s  

existential grip on the Prince of Denmark; however, in this instance, the effect is for the would-be activist.  

 

On land, hooves trample winding trails of microplastics & phthalates that speckle the ground like  

little industrial snowflakes in a Tarkovsky film.  

& through the thick, heavy smog, which is swallowed up & blown out by the cancerous lungs of   

  industry, the plants & vegetation shrivel & die in the greenhouse microwaves that cook  

with enough BTUs to spark trees like matchsticks & cover entire landmasses in giant pyrotechnic  

wildfires 

that resemble the warm embrace of Australian, Californian, & Western Canadian bush  

barbeques—all wrapped in one big blanket that envelops the globe in Rothko Orange, Red, [&] Yellow.  

 

Even though Cal walks through this valley of the shadow of death, he, like others, still has hope  

in a Secular Savior— 

a Pretorian or Princetonian billionaire with the financial & technological prowess to somehow  

escape this immanent, earthbound fate.  

& so, with Icarian spirit, they launch their rockets toward the heavens with hopes of transcending  

this would-be tinderbox planet, 

which will soon be left behind in the propellent flames & false promises of inhabiting Mars  

(or some other prospective Earth-like exoplanet for that matter). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wearing the Mask 

to all those living undiagnosed 

The first one I met  

said mental illness was a myth. 

Seriously, a clinician Holden Caulfielded me, by  

claiming that ‘mental health’ is entirely phony­­— 

well, “bullshit” was what they actually said, 

portraying it & the DSM as some hatched up  

psychiatric conspiracy­.  

 

Its intent?  

to commodify scientific knowledge  

& prop up the pharmaceutical market.  

  

Well, new to the therapy game, 

I guess all I could do was smile & nod 

at the rather off-putting assessment  

of the ‘mental health industry.’ Because hey,  

they are the professional­, 

you know—  

the one with the twenty or thirty-odd years of experience 

& are therefore, pretty much infallible. 

 

Who the hell was I to say otherwise? 

Just some lowly humanities student at 

the time.  

  

But low & behold, 

fast-forward a few months later 

& there I am again, cliff diving  

into the depressive November blues. 

 

I find myself further disillusioned  

by therapeutic advice & the notion that 

my feelings, for the most part,  

aren’t all that valid.  

 

In response, I play hopscotch with my Shadow  

near the edge of the precipice­­, & with  

a bottle of bourbon fastened to my hand,  

I steadily poison my body, as if  

binging on arsenic.  

  

With Szasz’s anti-psychiatric, physicalist framework  

now implanted in my brain  

(so graciously bestowed by my now ex- 

therapist),  

I find myself stranded once again  

in the dark, my isolated mind,  

still struggling with how to ever  

ask for help. 

 

In a sea of strangers,  

I find myself unable to do much else but pretend— 

almost as if I were being swallowed up in 

the quicksand of the crowd. Always striving  

to come across like I’m doing okay, 

which is ironic— 

as I am anything but fine (& haven’t been  

for quite some time).  

 

So, to avoid further ostracism, I return to what I know  

best: the chameleon-like game of neurotypical  

method acting, which I happen to do,  

almost as convincingly as  

a modern-day Richard Cory.  

 

My oyster-shucked spirit was sucked out long ago­,  

during all those years spent trying to fit in with  

the would-be status quo. 

 

 

 

 

Autumn Blues   

The wells of creativity dry up this time  

each year. This snakeskin mind sheds itself,  

handing me a bare canvas on which to draw.  

(Although my body seems to have forgotten  

exactly what that means).  

 

Trapped in this fishbowl skull,  

my brain stews in what feels like hemlock;  

seeping in good & deep until sodden— 

everything I know & touch  

turns gray.  

 

Penetrating marrow, the paralysis sets in 

& makes its way down to the cellular level.  

The days have come & gone, no antidote vial in reach,  

so I am forced to lie awake again, in this godforsaken  

purgatory.  

 

Nailed down in an invisible coffin, neither alive nor dead, with eyes stitched  

open wide like Raggedy Andy—catatonically, I rest. The world moves in time-lapse,  

but unperturbed, held up & hollow-eyed, stricken with bedsore-inducing  

autumn blues, all I do is just stare at the shaded window next to me,  

for the next six months or so.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memories of Gould Street  

Traveling about like Peripatetics enveloped in endless intellectual discussion   

the students carry with them copies of Platonic dialogues & introductory textbooks to  

psychoanalysis. 

A thousand-footed mob pitter-patters the giant serpent forward 

flooding the sidewalks & corridors with its signature midday traffic.  

The heavily populated & school-spirited Agora that is Gould Street  

pumps the masses through the campus like a heart—up & down & back again  

through its intricate network of veins & arteries that constantly flow, but always return  

to the hub’s blue & gold roadways representative of the institutional insignia.  

During breaks, students fiendishly search for friends, food, & fresh pick-me-ups in bottomless  

cups of dark nectar— 

the intoxicating scent of Arabica & Robusta beans sends them down olfactory river-rides that  

detonate cherry bombs in their brain’s hypothalamus. 

The overpowering urge reminiscent of Pavlov’s bell, culminates in the persistent sips, slurps, &  

gulps of their macchiatos, americanos, & lattes  

(although some students evidently prefer their yerba mate & matcha). 

With pinball percussion the bodies bounce from Balzac’s to Starbucks to David’s & back— 

unbolting the hydrant-like geysers of heavily caffeinated beverages into their wide-mouthed  

pelican gullets 

& releasing the desired psychostimulant buzz that propels them headlong like missiles through  

the nicotine haze of the hurried day.  

Tick-tock, tick-tock—they carpe diem their way through the scholarly routines of three-hour  

lectures, study groups, office hours, & the occasional caffeine-induced bathroom break, 

counting down the minutes until they may escape the day’s Apollonian order. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

 

 

Exodus  

With the sudden surprise of the dreaded midterm season   

comes the subsequent stress of sixteenth-century poetry classes  

& fifteen-hundred-word papers on figures like Skelton, Sidney,  

& Spenser, who come to elicit absolute terror in the  

proverbial arts & humanities major.  

 

Assignment prompts are met with last-minute efforts,   

smearing & splattering words & sentences together  

like linguistic & thematic pancake batter (without the egg),  

which fundamentally neglect any degree of structure, 

as even their spelling & syntax are found to be lacking.  

 

These undergrads soon find themselves mowed down  

in the machine-gun fire of corrective grammatical marks   

including rounds of AWKs, CSs, FRAGs, ROs, & WCs 

that get pumped into their essays, leaving bloody red streams  

that tarnish what they naively considered to be ‘completed’ papers.   

 

Fast-forward four years later, only some survive the expedition,   

& for those fortunate scholastic soldiers who do, in collecting  

that enchanted grail that bestows the title “Bachelor of”— 

comes the horror of student debt-repayment plans, as  

the tide of interest rolls in over their barefooted financial statuses. 

 

With the feeling of joy from academic completion dissipating rapidly, 

students are greeted with friendly end-of-study payment reminders,  

credit card debt, & oh so unholy OSAP balances that provoke 

hallucinations of entry-level interviews for prospective positions  

in nine-to-five office cubicles, requiring new ‘work clothes’— 

cheap blazers, white-collar shirts, pencil skirts, khakis, & loafers.  

 

The time to compliantly trade their lives for starting salaries in cages  

without bars quickly transpires, as companies anxiously anticipate fresh  

supplies of disposable cheap labor, while the hoards of Millennials & Gen Zers  

tightrope walk just above the poverty line & get called weak by Boomers  

for not being more grateful for these newly bestowed career opportunities.  

 

Eventually, these former students find themselves punching the keys on their life 

backspace  

backspace  

backspace   

control, alt, delete   

on what were once, youthful & heroic dreams of being    

an artist  

a writer   

a veterinarian   

or a nurse— 

which they soon forget,  

as they sit glued to their chairs  

as some passionless  

& underappreciated intern 

assistant  

or junior analyst 

in the great game of corporate  

snakes & ladders.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volume 20, Spring 2022