You should know that in the drug kingdom
rock cocaine holds a unique dishonour:
It has never come to the service of an artist
in the creation of a song, a book, or a building,
You quit doing coke because there were just too many
people in your room.
You started doing coke because there was just one
person in your room.
You were an unsuccessful hermit;
your quiet had the gentleman in it.
You almost know how much you cherish
the downtown eastside as an incarnation
of your lovely shame.
You are safer walking outside anywhere in the downtown
eastside at any time of day than you are anywhere in any
American city at any time; same can’t be said
when you’re inside, though, in the rooms
or on the stairs.
You are terrified of the downtown eastside,
your vice-ridden wishes louder with each step
toward Pigeon Park.
In Pigeon Park your gyroscope pops
right off its string.
You talk about the downtown eastside the way you talk
about God, with reverence, with righteousness,
and with unwarranted certainty.
It’s rude to convey your worries to the people you’re worried about;
it’s usually hypocritical as well.
You have a best friend but no she’s not alive anymore.
There is no one left for you to leave behind.
Sham virtue pollutes your neighbourhood.
Pigeon Park is your dream den; it’s no park.
Your first friend in the downtown eastside had three names:
The name she greeted new people with, the name she used
with people while getting high, and her real name,
known in the neighbourhood only by the two or three people
she tried to trust.
That person helping you has more resentments than a Palestinian.
Your stench still ambushed you
and didn’t leave with your socks.
You get high not to find new sensations but to return
to original sensations, of safety and power and delight.
You learn waiting by more waiting;
that’s the nuance of Pigeon Park.
Heroin and rock cocaine are daughters of your nostalgia.
Heroin can finger love that finds no other technique.
Rock cocaine promises more than it gives,
but it does give a real nifty experience there,
for a moment or two.
Going down to Pigeon Park the first time was as thrilling
as the first time you professed love to a friend,
the first time you had sex, your first and last wedding.
Nothing that had happened to you in Pigeon Park had been
as bad as what led you there in the first place;
you had taken more out of Pigeon Park than it had taken out of you.
Next time you would bring your identical twin
who could make art out of that venereal collapse
and share your snacks.
Twenty dollars would be okay;
you can conceal your disgust.
You’re just scared of the options the good ones have.
You would have been more of a menace had you not
enjoyed conversation most of all.
You take on men or women, depending,
depending on whether you want conversation
before or after.
Violet ruled the dream den;
Violet was the Princess of Pigeon Park.
When you told Violet that smoking rock cocaine made
you lose your good judgment, she reminded you that you lost
your good judgment the moment you came down here
to smoke rock cocaine in the first place.
Violet could give you retroactive empathy and your own.
Violet injected herself with heroin halfway,
putting the rig containing the rest of her blood
and heroin into the fridge for later, then she’d go out
for cigarettes and ice cream, pointing out
you need to be smart in Pigeon Park.
Violet gave you a notebook shaped like a Valentine
and insisted that all reverie be written,
demanding that you compose with plain openness, or at least quickly.
The Princess of Pigeon Park had authority, good language,
reason, and no self-pity, reminding you to pay attention.
The Princess of Pigeon Park saw, in the remainder of
people, who they first were, before they blinked hard.
The Princess of Pigeon Park woke up wanting to fight,
and she asked you to stay and to go away.
Violet never made you promise.
The downtown eastside appealed to you because you
wanted to be part of a club.
The club was the Lonely Club, strangers in any room
together, sharing their times of trusting no one, of having
no friends, of losing the game.
The Lonely Club was the only club you belonged in, where
you could witness and be recognized exactly right, totally
high, afraid of fights.
You need to return to your mind, the way it originally felt,
when it was curious and you were confident; that is to say,
you want to smoke crack again right now.
For you love was its own aversion therapy.
God hears three prayers of true complaint, to recall his own
great sinning: prayers from the evil, prayers from the insane,
and those prayers from the abandoned; you are not OK.
When middlers sell you bunk, you’re imperturbable,
reluctant to jeopardize your enjoyment of Pigeon Park.
You sang with wishes;
you ran with your fright.
No love deserves the death it gets;
same can’t be said of the lover, or of you.
You wanted to die in the arms of the Princess of Pigeon Park,
or at her hands; you need to be known at your end.
Violet died first.
Stealing is your promise.
In the downtown eastside people are often called dead, or found to be dead; they usually are; there are also mistakes. I learned yesterday that Violet is not dead, which she asked me to tell you. Voilet’s name was given to a woman who was stabbed to death in a stairwell; Violet’s police photograph was circulated throughout the neighborhood. “I came back to Pigeon Park and was halfway into my first rock when there were about a dozen people right there in front of me seeing a ghost. I told them to go away.”
Bless you, Vi.
— December 9, 2002
Copyright 2002 – 2004 B. Basil and PigeonPark.net. All rights reserved.