for those who are clean and sober
The problem with trying to one-up yourself
is not that you might die by your own hands,
but that you’ll be able to justify why
without feeling anything. When you were
in withdrawal, alone in your bed, the salt
from the sweat pressed on the mattress was testimony
to what you allowed: “I am Satan, because I deal
in language.” The next day, you had stopped
shaking, you went to work secular and clean.
There were no other addicts and you didn’t speak.
You know that lies look beautiful, unified, all parts
clicking together, lighting up your eyes. They are old
technology made new, sleek and gleaming
in crevasses like fog rolling around Renfrew.
You’re awake today to see it, because you’ve been
brave. You’ve noticed your friend has listened
and told you very boring things — not dismissed
them as errands. This is the task you will have to do,
soon enough, remembering all the ways your mind
moved — to write yourself into what you want
to call Conspiracy of Love. When the guy from Tinder
said hi to you in school, it didn’t strike you
that he might know you from the internet. You didn’t
remember who he was, not even when he called you
by your fake name. All you thought was, “I can’t
do this again. I want to be clean. I want to be Shazia.”
If you end this poem here, it might make sense,
but we both know this kind of work is occult.
So, you have to ask me: How do you want to finish
this poem? You have to leave it there. That way
at least it’s not about you anymore.
Shazia Hafiz Ramji’s first book, Port of Being, is forthcoming from Invisible Publishing in fall 2018. She is the author of the chapbook, Prosopopoeia (Anstruther Press, 2017), and her poetry and fiction are forthcoming in Best Canadian Poetry 2018 and The Humber Literary Review, respectively. Shazia is an editor for Metatron Press and Canadian Women in the Literary Arts.