Addiction

Todd McKinney

Tonight, I buy a 12-pack just for old times’ sake
and feel, as I twist off the top and lift the bottle’s lip to mine,
a tiny man who must be a part of myself
falling through an emptiness inside me that must be
another part of myself. Or my stomach. Or this night air.

Two months ago, I made a pact and smashed
8 bottles in the middle of the gravel lot beside the river.
Now, walking home from work, I take my second drink—
thank you O Glorious Abundance.
Traffic zips up the curvy street. I walk beside it

on the cracked, weed-ridden sidewalk, which says,
with the precision of a gray-haired Haiku Master, all that I feel
at this moment. With another gulp, the hops
step into my head and make themselves comfortable 
on a couch. I close my eyes to memorize their sweet talk

and the lightness of the world, which is impossible I know,
having tried many times before. “The good road,” I say out loud,
“must be just a delusion.” Someone’s white azaleas
nod as if they agree, but it’s just the wind. And I curse
them and everything beautiful, including my next swig.
© 2007 University of North Carolina Greensboro
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TODD MCKINNEY has work in Puerto del Sol. He received his MA in English from New Mexico State University and is finishing an MFA in writing at UNC Greensboro.