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"A Morning When I Was Using" by Joshua Anderson

Gary Miller

      I would get up before she’s awake

strong black coffee in the shower

   cold and to the point to save time

shaving too, avoiding eye contact

    as much as possible

leave the shower

   skin soft

       and veins popping.

Reach for my heroin hobby kit

    in the brown leather shaving bag

  I stole form my father

Used needles,

    clean needles,

      cheap aluminum tins,

Q-tips, and tiny wax envelopes

With words like

    “Black Magic,” “Reagan,” and “Ambition”

stamped on them.

      I begin the ritual—

         mix the shot, find the vein,

draw back—

       push down, push off, push away.
Heroin gives me a chance, I think.

    The strength to look myself in the eyes.

I stare in the mirror and see a mask

and I adjust it

      but no matter what I do each morning

         my mask gets harder and harder

           and harder

   to breathe through.