Feeding the Monkey

Anxiety plays prelude to her fix.
Its insidious tickling
opens vivid yearning
tip – tip – tipping her
toward Needle’s veining ways.

A nick of tinted light
illuminates her arm’s crook
as a tinny cannula splits
her skin and drifts
gentle waves through her wayward limbs,
eradicating anxiety with escape’s sweet bliss.

Brenda Warren 2012

The word “fix” drove this piece. I decided to explore it as an addict’s fixation, but did not intend the piece to end in “bliss.” A “tinny cannula” is meant to describe a needle. A cannula is a flexible tube designed to dump drugs into a person, or lab animal. I did not mean for the addict’s journey to sound so nice, but I imagine the addict feels this way.

The title is a reference to “the monkey on your back.” It is an idiomatic expression for the urge that addicts feel.

For more pieces using the words that wind their way through this piece, visit The Sunday Whirl.

36 thoughts on “Feeding the Monkey

  1. Brenda, you really gathered me in with this piece…you certainly color vivid the feeling behind what this might be like. I like Irene’s point and also agree with Walt about your raven…great shot. Very well wordled. 🙂


    • It’s interesting that I can’t sit through that movie, yet this evoked it for you. We purchased the movie at a yard sale. Len and I sat down to watchi it, and I just couldn’t go through it… the destruction and intensity of addiction is bigger than the people it grips. Case in point….the vignette you describe.


  2. A wonderful depiction of the addict’s yearning for that ultimate state – the never really achievable “bliss”. I cannot imagine being so desperate that you would search over and over for the same life-threatening nirvana … you have done that admirably here. Someone mentioned being reminded of “cutting” – I think any of the self-harming addictions can be carried to extremes and while some, maybe even most, addicts do seek numbness eventually, I believe that bliss is the release they get hooked on first … I love that you’ve used the word “escape” because in the end, that’s the crux of it, in my opinion. And not always just for addicts … oh – and I’m with Walt – I love the new bird. He’s righteous.

    Thanks for coming by the Poet Treehouse earlier brenda … I appreciate both the visit and the comments.


    • Thanks Sharon. Yeah…escape as the “crux.” What a good word crux is…it might have to show up in a wordle. LoL

      Thanks for loving the raven. I love it too. You can see the sky through it’s nostril. Are they called nostrils on beaks? hmmm….


  3. Brenda, Brenda! Your depiction does take one on a journey that teeters on the incredible. Escape’s sweet bliss could come from any source. But the imaginings of the addict could be construed in romanticized tones. Part of the denial process. Always good to follow your lead. Great words. (And I love the new photo of the “bird”)


    • Thanks Walt. I agree about the romanticized tones. I think that’s what bothers me the most about this piece…and yes, I can see that it would be part of the denial process. Thank you for your insight, and continued presence at The Whirl. (The bird is a raven. I took it on Lake Vermilion right after dinner one evening on our houseboat vacation. Three of them came to camp. Loved it. Thanks!)


  4. You need not have feared, Brenda. Amazing poem. Besides addiction, I thought it could also be some medication that’s needed, insulin for instance. Very well executed.


  5. It’s the process notes I want to focus on for a moment. I find it amazing that you seem to know where you’re going with a piece, and how to get there. I, on the other hand, usually have no idea where I’m going or even if I’m going to get there!


    • The tone of it surprised me, too, Kristina. I went with it…and let it guide the words. I imagined the morphine drip they give you after surgery…where you get to push your own button. I always wait until it almost hurts too much….and I do love the delivery of dilution. It isn’t even the pain it takes away…it’s a kind of numbing. Maybe that’s where this came from… I’ve had my share of surgeries.


  6. The words themselves seem to drive us to particular places, scenes, and memories. But then, I believe that poets are todays prophets and are driven to write about all of what they see about them. Addiction is a means of escape and can be tied to most anything, even words. While we write, or work out a piece, we are in what we call the zone. Drug addicts are said to be zoned out on something. We are never all that far away from the darkness that inhabits our world and poets are most often the ones who bring light into that world. Perhaps if we hadn’t found words, we’d have found something else. Escapism is a part of the human condition and directly connected to denial. We cannot absorb all that surrounds us without losing what balance we possess. I think your portrayal is absolutely right on. Someone has already said that one person’s nightmare is another’s bliss. I think your word choice here, is as close to perfect as it gets,



    • Thank you, Elizabeth. My own fears about posting this piece drove me to seek affirmation. You provide it succinctly and with heart. I appreciate your continued support of my work more than I can ever express. My palms are together in front of me, as I bow humbly in your direction with deep gratitude.


      • See how quickly my enthusiasm has me replying? I love your idea of poetry as fodder for addiction. The social attention of these blogs doesn’t hurt either, eh?


  7. Brenda-these wordle take us down strange paths.The world is full of places I never hope to go- except through writing. There must be a least a second of bliss… or maybe it is relief. So many in our world search for relief from something….heartbreaking really.


  8. Dramatic – then life is full of drama. The ‘stages’ are just different. Watching the CSI shows – I have noticed that you have captured this ‘play’ of life very true to form – that is if the shows are even half as realistic as in real life.

    Thanks for your visit. You’ve sparked a few thoughts with your comment about the birds… they may have to have their own featured verse. Can you see my marbles spinning? 🙂


  9. Each of the wordle poems is so unique and I love that about wordles. Wow you must know some addicts–this seems to capture what I would think the experience is like.


  10. I’ve never used drugs but have been close to addiction and was told all an addict thinks about is being ‘numb.’ They don’t want to have to think, to feel, to have to be anything, and when they have a fix all they can think about then is where they will find the cash for their next one. Your poem says it all really, in such a factual way. Hard hitting Brenda and so sad for its truth.


  11. Well, you seem to have captured the experience and the feeling; but I couldn’t tell you from firsthand experience. You used the wordle words very creatively & wrote a poem that makes sense (which isn’t always easy with a collection of miscellaneous words)!


    • I’ve revisited your comment several times today, and think the comments of others provided a lens to clarify your ideas. Annette thought of cutting, others hinted that they thought this was what addiction was like, but weren’t sure… it’s as if it’s a taboo topic in some way, and many people feel the need to say it was never them. That fear is interesting, for I think it is fear that drives people to say, not me! not me! Still others like the piece for what it is… I’m not sure of it, but it came, and I’ve truly enjoyed reading the responses today.

      Thanks Margo, for getting me thinking.


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