In April, in honor of National Poetry Month, we asked Phoenix House employees to write poems related to addiction and submit them for a contest. We’d like to thank all who participated in the contest and are pleased to announce the winners and share their pieces.
In first place is Heather Cabral with her poem entitled “Temptation.” Heather is part of the Phoenix House New England team as the Director of Community Housing for the Rhode Island Council on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependence (RICAODD).
Our second place winner is Leroy Rickard for his poem, “A Monster to Slay.” Leroy is a Behavioral Health Counselor with Phoenix House Crossroads in Kern, CA.
Please enjoy the winning poems!
By Heather Cabral
I am unmoored in vicious waters,
trampled by the foaming multitude,
listlessly loose-limbed against the
Without it I am permanent
background, a slip of curling wallpaper,
a vacuum cleaner, a clock, white noise
incapable of being heard.
He makes an offer of commiseration like
slipping me a sweet, rotting apple
that my fingers sink into and are
He thinks the nights would be shorter,
dull hours passed in a silken stupor
more bearable with a hand to hold
across the vast galaxy
between our chairs but instead
I choose this finite assault,
punishment for vanquished
imperfection, ordinary life an
ecstasy finally within my reach.
A Monster to Slay
By Leroy Rickard
Like a ghoulish friend of old,
Whose return marks your end.
Addiction roars it’s arrival,
And the man struggles to defend.
It has been many years now,
Living with Addiction’s doom.
Every minute he must pay a price,
But, his bank is now a tomb.
Addiction is like a Monster,
Forever enforcing it’s cruel will.
He tries to fight off its advances,
But it is usually he who pays the bill.
Each night the Monster beckons,
Each night he struggles to resist.
Most nights the Monster triumphs,
So, the victim still exists.
The Monster lives in silence,
Thriving in the unspoken word.
But, a battle-plan is brewing,
The man’s voice will be heard.
Shadows fade as the sunset wanes,
As does the Monster’s might.
It will take all that he has to give
If the man is to taste the light.
The Monster tries to mock,
But the man withstands his jest.
It does not faze the Monster,
But has he seen the lamb’s best?
Leviathan that twisted serpent,
Does not yield his throne.
It will only be dismantled
By shearing it clean to the bone.
To start the extinguishing process,
He must heal the Monster’s plague.
Delivering the shadowed truth,
There is no room for vague.
Each truth that is told
Cuts sharp and cuts deep.
As the weight of knowing
Is now the Monster’s to keep.
As the victim relinquishes
His vast secrets of shame,
The beast gets heavier;
Overwrought with the blame.
Pecking and chipping away
At the cancer that is guilt,
Allowing himself to forgive
Irradiates the tumor hell built.
Forgiving even the Monster,
The harbinger of his soul’s death,
Breaks free the chains of slavery;
The dark master’s own last breath.
With forgiveness he is pardoned
From the sentence of pure hell.
From a cage of his own making,
A rewriting of his tale.
Giving himself mercy,
The victim begins to fade.
No longer is he allowing
The Monster to evade.
Standing up to the Monster,
Captaining his own ship.
He cast away his demons,
From the tea of hope he’ll sip.
No longer does he tremble
In the bed alone at night.
If he feels the Monster calling,
He does not run from the fight.
To the victor comes the spoils
And in the end it’s his life to fulfill.
But he must not forget the lessons
That the Monster did instill.
Let go of shame and guilt,
Because their power is intense.
Share your darkest secrets,
For in light there’s no defense.
Hold onto the ones you love,
And allow hatred to lose its grip.
Never forget the Monster,
Or the horrific and toxic trip.
Was it a vengeful God or luck,
That brought down this acid rain?
We all have choices to make
And we all have a date with pain.
From the moment we are born,
We are part of death’s cruel play.
But, if you fail to truly live,
You’ll miss the Monsters to slay.