Sunday, June 18, 2006

Full Recovery Is Possible

I used to drive a route home every day after work where I'd see a recovering crack addict named Victor at the same street corner selling M&Ms and gum wands to earn his keep at a half-way house in Detroit. I'd give him whatever spare money I had and he'd hand me a wand (I declined the M&Ms because of the calories) and a flyer that said Full Recovery Is Possible! It gave instructions where to send money if you were inclined to help. I never sent any money, but I gave to Victor and soon my car was littered with gum wands, like some kind of low-rent Glenda in the Wizard of Oz. The tiny chiclets of gum retained their flavor for less than a minute, and I'd spit them out and dump more gum into my mouth at each stop light. Signs of salvation littered the city -- Jesus Saves next to Control the Night ads for gin.

My life was at a particularly difficult point which is to say that I was in my hour of need. My wisdom teeth were rotting out of my head, my car was on the verge of a Detroit death, running on one spare donut tire for NINE, yes nine, months, the social work/dementia clinic (Calvary Center) I worked at was closing down because of lack of funds. I'd even seen a rat in the kitchen of Calvary Center, aptly named as it was the last stop of Jesus and it might have been mine had I eaten in that kitchen for very much longer. When I felt mired in self-pity, I stuck a gum wand in my mouth and chewed on it ever so gently with my increasingly bad teeth, telling myself Victor had two teeth in his whole head, but when he smiled, I never noticed. It was as if the sun had come out, which it did every now and then, even in the city of Detroit, where Victor mostly stood on the same corner no matter what the weather.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"All day we had run-ins with jungle snakes." Mary Karr, Viper Rum

Music to drink by when in a melancholy mood:

"My Funny Valentine" Miles Davis (1964 Recording)
"Stardust Memories" Louis Armstrong
"Love Supreme" John Coltrane
"Let's Get Lost" Chet Baker

Benedictions and Maledictions

First published in Taproot:

My Husband’s Closet

Looking for what I could not imagine,
I found a dildo in my husband’s closet,
its harsh reality making me forget
what I came for. Is there a saint
to make you not know something?
I asked
my newly converted friend on the phone,
after telling my story. No, she said, but
Jack Daniels will do. God loves us
in many different ways
. I’m sure there
will be more, the Internet porn bills I’ll
find, that I will lose myself to his secrets
before I can stop. I once heard a man
at a party say, All men want to fuck
a woman who looks like a little girl
. I looked
down at my glass of red wine, almost
empty and went back for more even though
I knew I would be sick in the morning.


Anonymous said...

Love you, love the post -- CMK

cindy said...


I Love you! What more do we need to know about the majority of men after that poem?


robin said...

Alaina & I saw a billboard on our way to karate class a few years back. She said, "Mom, look at that old Eminem..." I looked up, and said, "No, honey, that's Mother Theresa." We passed by twice a week for months on end, before it was changed, and each time, we'd look at each other and laugh until we cried! Great post & poem, Miss Brooks!

Wichita-Lineman said...


Love the post and the poem. And the Music to Drink to. I've always thought "Stardust" was a great tune to drink to; I adore Willie Nelson's version.

"soon my car was littered with gum wands, like some kind of low-rent Glenda in the Wizard of Oz"

Thats some great visaul discription.

The poem is a jewel, like it alot.
I think I might have seen that guy who made the "little girl" comment on Dateline. As a good friend of mine always says: "If those Assholes could fly, that place would be a fucking airport."

Sheila said...

lovely poem and post. you are very gifted.

Anonymous said...

On a safety tire for nine months? You're lucky it didn't give birth to a blowout.

Jason said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jason said...


John said...

Dear Ms. Michelle,

I hope Victor is alive and thriving. The poem makes me cringe to be a man, but I'll survive. Can hardly imagine what it's like to be a woman these days or any days.

Bravo to you and yours!

JR's Thumbprints said...

I can tolerate some of the things you say about men, but c'mon, Michelle, leave the rat out of it!

Anonymous said...

Today's quote: "If you cut your own wood, it'll warm you twice."--HDT

Anonymous said...

Today's second quote: "I can't go on. I must go on."--SB

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Jim,

In my defense, the poem isn't about anyone I've been married to -- it's a persona piece from the point of view of one of my friends. I love men, umm, really, I do, I think they're great . . . I need to raise Johnny Cochrane from the dead to mount my defense!