Writers for Recovery Book Bash

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In early July, we got together to celebrate the publication of volume 2 of our annual anthology, "One Imagined Word at a Time." The evening featured readings by many of the writers featured in the anthology and music by Vermont songwriter Mark LeGrand.  If you'd like to buy a copy of the anthology, you can order it here. (Please note, the image on the page shows last year's book, but we will indeed send you this year's if you order.)

And in case you missed it, here is the complete text of the reading.


I Am From

by Mollie Hoerres

I am from

a gravelly alley

Dusty rocks and

Cracked, asbestos shingles


I am from

traffic jams

People yelling

I’ll kill you mother-fucker!


I am from

Max and Joan

The two who never should have spawned


Then where would we seven be?


I am from

dishes smashing

Knives flying

Windows crashing


I am from

hiding in the wall

To save myself

From being seen


I am from

Don’t you ever talk

About what goes on

In this house

And from

Clean yourself up

It’s time to go to church


I am from

Respect the father

Do as you are told

Children are to be seen

Not heard


I am from

Don’t be a pussy

Stop your crying


I need to get off

The phone Honey,

I can’t talk now


I am from

Don’t go out

Stay here with me

I might die if

You go out there and



I am from

Help yourself

To a drink

While you make one

For me


I am from

Notes on refrigerators


No drugs

No boys

Take out the garbage


I am from

code names

over the telephone

for the dealer

Be careful what you say


I am from

Shut up and

Leave me alone

I just want

To be gone


I am from

Rough streets

Tender hearts

Calloused hands

Quick wit and

Constitutions that

Never quit


I am from

A shifting landscape


Moving along with the tides

And phases of the moon


I am from

The Universe

Ever flowing, expanding


Reaching across dimensions


I am from

A world of forgiveness

Generations of hope and

Beings of love.


Where I'm From...


by Suzie Walker

I'm a farmer's daughter from cow country, from my dad's dairy farm, to college Cowtown USA, to the home of the Strolling of the Heifers. 

I'm a farmer's daughter from a loving family, gregarious and celebratory, but who often tipped back too many and toasted too much. 

I'm a farmer's daughter from voracious reading stock, where we passed books from grandparent to parent to child and talked about big ideas and felt deep feelings. I'm a farmer's daughter, caught between wholesome and naughty, as the various limericks and stories go.

I'm from a farmhouse where we kept more beer than milk, and we thought neverending 12 packs were a staple of life everywhere, where the bulk tank in my dad's milkhouse held gallons of fresh, frothy milk while the milkhouse fridge held a quarter-keg of its own foamy beverage.

I'm from a family where loved ones gathered at parties and reunions became strangers as the booze flowed freely and the day wore on, where I tried not to get caught in the sloshy swirl of the drunken chatter.

I'm from a family where the white mustache smile is beer foam not milk, but we learned to wipe the foam away.

I'm from a family who said "Enough!" and cut off the flow, embracing recovery, from my mom, to my siblings, to me.

I'm a farmer's daughter, who discovered that I'm enough and learned when to say when.


I Am a Disposable Human Being

by Q.

I am a disposable human being

Use once and discard

Do not reuse

            Do not repurpose.

                        Do not recycle.


I come to you an empty vessel

Begging to be filled with hopes and dreams

Yet I am told I am irreparable

A cog of malice in this machine


I have purged myself of rust and stain

Yet still I am haunted

Do not allow me to feel needed

God forbid you trust me


For such as claim correction

I feel I am denied the care I seek

I have changed every broken part

Yet I am somehow unworthy of use


How is it that I will heal

Without a tearful, fierce embrace

Denied making reparation

Because it does not fit my stereotype


When it is I attempting virtue

But barricaded on every side

Tell me, who is failing

I leave for you to decide


A Morning in the Middle of My Addiction

by Richard Gengras

Goddam. Stumble to the kitchen, down those friggin’ stairs.

Find the 1⁄2 pint for mornings


Drink water.

Get sorta right, put on pants, shirt

It’s 7:45.

Walk to the Center, get a pint at 8:00

And start walking home, drinking, in public.

No shame, no cares.

All of Hartford going to work.

Shit.I gotta get to work—not till 10:00.

Have a drink boys-your loving bride awaits you!

Yeah-right, she awaits something.

Fuck, I’m tired. Get some blow on the way in.

I wish I was back on heroin.

Gotta puke again.

Mom calls, says I’m drinking again. How does she know?

I haven’t talked to anyone today.


I Am the One

by Angala Devoid


I am the one who lost custody of her two older children 20 years ago.

I am the one who did not care if people tried to help me get them back. All I did

was push them away.

I am the one who fought and fought the system for years. Stop drinking stop

using just stop and your

babies will be back in your arms again.

I am the one who did not listen to those words. I stuck cotton in my ears

picked up a drink and tookthat demon’s hand.

I am the one who stood in front of a judge and said my drink my drug I love

more than my kids then

turned around and walked away.

I am the one who after all those years of fighting walked into my Lord’s arms

and said I am willingto

surrender now, help me win this fight.


The Moment I Knew Something Had to Change                         

by Doreen Phillips


The moment I woke up

I came to realize

My forehead was throbbing

Rolling out of bed required

Careful positioning of my frozen legs

As my back was in lockdown


I waddled to the bathroom

Stripping myself naked

I saw the mottled patches

Of purple and blue

Another night, another blackout

Another step closer to death


The moment I knew I was in serious trouble

A stream of crimson blood

Streaked the porch floor

My head split open


As I stumbled and crawled

To arrive on my feet


The panic knowing

I would soon be found out

For another tumble

This time during broad daylight


I escaped the need

To be sewn back together


The party ended

On an abrupt note

I face-planted on the floor

Down from a barstool


The paramedics arrived

One of them the son

Of an old friend

Attending the party


We had just reconnected

After seven years

What were the odds?

He was from another town


The moment I knew

Something needed to change

I took inventory

Of years of moments lost

Body battered, soul shattered


So I packed my bags

As God’s hand reached out to me

You are coming with me

To live.


A.K.A.  Ugly Bulb

by Johnny NoNo

I was once the one with the reputation

For wearing the Lampshade.

At Parties

It was an expression

For the one who played The Fool.


I found an actual Lampshade

And put it on.

I had an insatiable appetite for the attention,

And I was very convincing

As the Fool.

I was always the last one

To leave the Party,

And my Hunger was so great

That for me,

The Party never ended.

I stopped removing the Lampshade altogether,

And danced to the Music in my head all the Time,

Never worrying about the Bruise on my reputation,

‘till I found myself

Doing time

in places like this.

Now I see that the Lampshade

Doesn’t look that good on me anymore…

It didn’t look too good in the first place.


The Promises Made, the Ones I Keep

by Connie Perry


Oh Gee, I need to put this damn life aside.

To make a better one.

For me.

To get along with people.

To keep my thoughts to myself.

Live in peace and love for others.


This sucks.

Do I want to be a good person or a hater?

Damn, we have enough haters out there.

There are days I want to tear up the world.

I’ll never be a saint.

Damn, but I can and will change.

But know…that there are days when I will be as mean as a bear.

But anyhow, I want peace for the world

And I.


You Should Have Been There

by S.

It was one of those meetings, you know the kind, where the topic strikes a chord and the sharing is deep and meaningful. Like the other night when the topic was ‘Sobriety First.’ There were the usual remarks about the importance of attending meetings and going to any lengths until somebody got fired up about the need for being selfish and taking care of yourself. After all, how can your sobriety come first if YOU don’t come first? How can you help someone else if you’re not ready? If you’re still struggling to take care of yourself?  If you’re not spiritually fit and strong? It all made perfect sense.

After all, we had finished our self-indulgent drinking journeys and left a trail of carnage and wrecked lives, but we were better now. We’d made amends, become contrite and humble, and were ready to extend a helping hand and serve others. Of course, in order to stay sober, we needed to be a little selfish and take care of ourselves first. It seemed we’d come full circle.

There were metaphors about life jackets and learning to swim before giving our own away, about getting our own house in order, and about cleaning up our side of the street first. Ultimately we needed to put ourselves first, put our sobriety ahead of all other things in order to be prepared and effective helping others.

Then our leader, bless her heart, came up with the perfect metaphor:

‘It’s like being in a plane,’ she said. ‘The plane is passing through a storm and we are experiencing turbulence. The cabin begins to decompress and the oxygen masks drop down.’

I have a fear of flying so I’m not liking this example.

‘But we know what to do,’ she continues. ‘Put our own mask on first. Before we help the armless man across the aisle or the little old lady sitting in the seat beside us. Even before—hard to imagine—but even before we help the sweet baby child that we’re holding in our arms, we have to put our own mask on first.’

There is a long reflective silence, a pregnant pause. Everyone in the room is nodding quietly, thinking it through and loving the metaphor. Yes. We need to help ourselves before we can really help someone else. And save all our lives.

So there we were, imagining being in a 727 with no oxygen when somebody makes a comment that takes the rest of the air right out of the room:

‘Yes, but if the plane goes down, we’ll all be dead so it really doesn't matter.’

Who says alcoholics aren’t realists?



by Maura Quinn

I was having a craving

First it was for crawling back into bed

So, I did

I was having a craving

And it kept coming at me

I was having a craving

And I wanted to give in

I wanted to run out or drive out

Just, get to what I wanted

Because it was a pull that kept pulling

It would not back off

I was having a craving

So, I went to a meeting

And it subsided for a while

So, I thought it would be safe


To go out

And it was for a while

But then I got restless again

So, I went home

I went home

And I tried to distract myself

I wrote and I watched soap operas

But I was having a craving


And it still won’t go away

Because I’m having a craving

And the craving craves

So, I’m hoping for sleep

And hoping it will pass

But it is powerful

It is consuming

It swamps me

So, I have


Just let time pass

 Don’t quit

And don’t give in

Because the craving craves

And the craving can never be filled

What might have been…

by Nancy Bassett

Sometimes I think back to when I was using & how it might have been…

Like, if I hadn’t gotten arrested,

Or if heroin hadn’t consumed my life the way it did…

What if Wayne hadn’t overdosed and died?

Would we still be together?

I’d like to think so,

but maybe we would have killed each other by now…

And then I think about it a little more,

I wouldn’t be sitting here right now…

Maybe I’d be dead, too

I’m glad I’m here…


A Premature Overdose

by Jeremy Void

A few months ago a good friend of mine died of a heroin overdose.  He was a good kid—too young to die, too stubborn to live.

Today I saw a woman passed out on the sidewalk.



She looked sick.

Two firemen stood peeling her off the pavement.  One woman stood by, watching the firemen work.  Who was this woman?

A Friend?

A Concerned Citizen?




A few months ago a good friend of mine died of a heroin overdose.  He had just gotten home.  Back from the road.  I saw him at the bus stop before I boarded a bus to Montreal for my cousin’s wedding.

He was gonna stay with me for a bit when I got back to Rutland, VT.  No using drugs when you’re with me this time around, I said.  (He stayed with me before he had left.)  I mean it, I scolded.  Okay, he told me.  Okay, I won’t.

A few months ago a good friend of mine died of a heroin overdose.  He was a good kid—too young to die, too stubborn to live …

Gary Miller1 Comment