Tag Archives: alcoholism

Free Kindle Book–A Reminder and a Note

I’m posting this for those who might have missed it yesterday.  The Kindle version of my new book of poetry (which contains the five poems included in my first book, Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days, along with many others), A Rough Deliverance: Collected Poems 1983-2013, is FREE on Amazon through this Sunday (11/24/13). The link is below.  I’m hoping to get some reviews on the Amazon page and elsewhere by doing this; it really makes a big difference.  After Sunday the price of the Kindle version will go back up to $3.99.  The print version will be available within the next few days (and will be eligible for the new “MatchBook” program, through which someone who buys the print version can also get the Kindle version for a substantially discounted price–in this case, 99 cents).

For those who already downloaded the book early yesterday, when the promotion started, I wanted to let you know that I made some late changes to the text a little later in the day–I changed the Preface, and added a list of the poems at the beginning to make them easier to find within the book.  If those things matter to you, you may want to re-download the book.

OK–no more changes any time soon!  Here’s the link:


A Rough Deliverance (Kindle version) Now Free on Amazon

I could swear that I posted this last night (maybe things are catching up to me after all!), but it’s not here now.  So, again, the Kindle version of my new book, A Rough Deliverance: Collected Poems 1983-2013, is now free (its usual price is $2.99), and will be through this Sunday, 11/24.  I’d love to have as many people as possible read it now that I’ve finally put it together.  If you do pick it up, it would be especially helpful if you would leave a review on its Amazon page (or anywhere else, really!).

For something of a preview, you can read a few of the poems in some of my recent posts here. The poems are about things like love, music, AIDS (and losing someone I loved to it), travel, God, suicide, alcoholism, chance encounters, sex, ambition, hope, and many other things–I’ve had a lot to think, and write, about in the past thirty years.

Here’s the link again.  I hope that I’m not dreaming that I’m posting this one too!


A Rough Deliverance Ebook Now Available on Amazon

So I got ambitious and got the manuscript for A Rough Deliverance: Collected Poems 1983-2013 ready for publication much earlier than I thought I would.  The Kindle version is now available on Amazon.com (the print version will be out shortly as well).  This is how I’ve described the book:

A Rough Deliverance begins with poems the author wrote as an ambitious, conflicted, and sometimes naive 22-year-old college student just learning to navigate her life on her own,a young woman who wanted nothing more than to be a “famous poet.” 

It closes with poems written by a woman thirty years older–in some ways very different, in some ways very much the same, perhaps wiser and perhaps not. She is not a famous poet, but she is someone who has loved deeply, witnessed the ravages of an epidemic from the “front lines,” grieved, traveled extensively, made terrible choices and perfect ones, over-indulged and abstained, raised a wonderful son, wrestled with anger and shame about the past and fear of what’s to come, and finally learned to see all of it as absolutely worthwhile. 

This is a collection of poems that documents a ragged, imperfect, and ultimately joyful life lived one deliverance at a time. 

The poems are about love, family, alcoholism, suicide, travel, chance meetings, sex, AIDS, and many other things.  If you read poetry, or if you’ve liked some of the poems I’ve posted here recently, I hope you’ll take a look (as always, reviews on the book’s Amazon.com page, and elsewhere, are greatly appreciated!).


A Sonnet This Time

This is one of twelve sonnets that I wrote as my senior thesis at Reed in 1984. Almost all of the poems were about my father, and the work as a whole was called Snake Charm: Twelve Sonnets.


Thank you for your visit. I woke hungry.

Everything I’ve heard is true: no snake could

be such a charmer in a crush. But we

did have quite a time, for a while, you stewed

and me my Daddy’s girl. I understood

that afterwards I’d be alone and here

I am. Lately I see things as I should,

all taken bravely in and focused clear;

still, pain and beauty always disappear

too suddenly. I’ve been picking at your

bones too long. Scene by scene dreams reappear,

but, after, I can’t feel them any more.


The weather’s changed since the autumn solstice;

the light’s dazzling: Daddy, you should see this.


I haven’t posted any excerpts from Holding Breath here for a while, but a conversation having to do with drug tests for Welfare recipients I stumbled into this morning on Facebook (probably ill-advisedly, as I was in an unusually grouchy and impatient mood, for some reason, and might have known to stay out of it if that hadn’t been the case) got me thinking about something I’d thought about many times in the past, and wrote about in the book.  (The first time I thought of it was probably when I was a kid, walking down what must have been East 19th Street in Manhattan with some family members.  We saw a man panhandling, and I wanted to give him some money, but my family told me not to–that he would just “use it to buy liquor.”  They’re kind people, but I now know that they were just going along with a conventional idea that, even at the time, didn’t feel right to me.)

I’ve come to believe that when a person in need asks you to give, you give—no questions asked, no test to see if they’re “deserving” enough, no pre-judging what they might use it for.  If they need comfort (and, preferably, a few warm, respectful words to go with it), and are in a situation that has brought them to the demeaning point at which they need to stand in the street and ask strangers for help, and I have the means to give them what they need just then, I’m happy to do it.  I don’t give a damn how they got to be that way, or what they’re going to do with what I give. I used to feel that there might be something wrong with my thinking that way, as so many others seemed to feel differently, but I’ve gotten over it. 

In any case, here’s the excerpt:

Maybe I really was, as I was told over and over, just being naïve, and being an “enabler”.

But I’ve grown up enough to see that my beliefs are as valid as anyone else’s (and perhaps based more on experience than those of many others who make judgments about the character of addicts and people who live on the street), and aren’t negated by someone else’s disagreeing with them. Almost all of us are, to a greater or lesser degree, addicted to something. We all lie, often without even thinking of it as lying. We all manipulate others in order to get what we want, and we’ve all stolen or cheated in one way or another—even those of us who have everything we need already. We’ve all caused others emotional or physical pain. And if being an “enabler”, with David or with anyone else in a similar position, meant that I was giving them the comfort of feeling that they were, after all, as worthy of love as anyone else, I had nothing to be ashamed of.

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