Wednesday, April 10, 2013

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

The color of addiction is gray.
It is the color of the lean and hungry ghosts,
stick men and women of the street,
who wander the gray pavement,
caught in desperation's beat.

Gray , the color of hungry ghosts
huddled in  gray doorways,
wandering  gray pavement,
day on suffering day,
feeding the gray pigeons 
who are better-fed than they.

Huddled in gray doorways,
counting hard-scrabble cash,
waiting for the high, 
then waiting for the crash. 
In their fight to ease the pain,
they begin to wait again.

Counting hard-scrabble cash,
for men and women of the streets,
the feeling of addiction is 
future-less and gray,
as they wait for the high, 
and then the crash,
the cycle of their suffering,
each and every day.

There is laughter here,
and heart,
and a walking with each other,
side by side,
right where you're at,
nothing to hide.
In these mean streets,
a shared humanity,
service that lasts,
more authentic than
where people avert their eyes
from such distress
and hurry past.

But when it comes to hope,
the Lower East Side
is forever painted 

At Verse First today, over at Poets United, Kim has set us the prompt: colored, in all of its meanings: being colorful, seeing the world through rose-colored glasses, the world of associations with regard to being a person of color..........where one gets into the realm of racism, prejudice, stigma, and stereotyping.

Right now I am reading a book titled In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Dr. Gabor Mate.

Dr Mate  is a doctor for the struggling residents of Vancouver's Lower East Side. This is a man of enormous compassion and humanity, who is no stranger to suffering. He was a small child in Nazi-occupied Budapest, moving with his family to Vancouver during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. He approaches his patients with humanity, and an understanding of addictions, including the many less visible addictions rampant in our society.

It occurred to me that there is a color attached to addictions.

                                   ***                            ***                             ***


  1. Gray is a good color here, where everything is right and everything is wrong.

  2. There is a color attached to addictions, Sherry, and you use it well to paint this clear picture of a life in their stranglehold.

  3. I couldn't think of a more appropriate color than gray to symbolize addiction. This is a very strong, vivid poem, extremely well written. Great job Sherry!

  4. I love this. Interesting to note the comradeship in grayness. I noted, before quitting smoking, the very grayness of sharing smokes in our little huddles--forever grey. Powerful poem!

  5. Ma'm you always inspire me... this is so real... thanks for your happy.

  6. Gray is an underused colour, and this really is very thought provoking. Left a real impression.

  7. I spent a very long time being gray, well said.

  8. There is indeed a stigma attached to addictions ~ Your use of gray is powerful here Sherry ~

  9. Sherry,

    I am certain that I caught sight of those same shades of grey, while I was visiting San Diego recently. In fact, I had never witnessed so many grey people, gathered in one small area. So sad and despairing....In many other towns and cities as well.

    Best wishes,

  10. Enjoyed reading this, Sherry. True, typically grey indicates an unwilling and unforgiving spirit...I love the way you've used the shade of gray here...lovely though very sad indeed:(
    Great job!

  11. Grey fits the subject matter exactly...

  12. Gray is also a neutral ... blends in, complements as well as distracts, depending upon the hue.

    This is exquisite, Sherry. Well done.

  13. such sadness. I've also learned today that grey is gray in the usa

  14. One of your most powerful pieces, Sherry.

  15. I like your tribut to Dr. Mate. People of this calibre should be recognisedand acclaimed. Grey is the coulour of addiction is avery arresting first line. Well Done!

  16. Gray does seem the color of addiction. I will check out that book!

  17. i love the way you have used the color Sherry...

  18. I like gray here-
    Wow gray the color of addiction-yes, makes sense as it blurs the lines...
    powerful poem
    Well done

  19. Sherry, you are right about the color of addiction, linked to my color for depression. Self-medicating depression leads to addiction, after all. Your lines that most struck me were:
    walking with each other/side by side,
    right where you're at/nothing to hide.

    It's all on the table for addicts. The struggle to eat and find shelter, sometimes huddled together. New York's Lower East Side, the "alphabet streets" (Aves. B, C, D and beyond) were havens for addicts in the 70s. Now they are gentrified and the addicts were forcibly moved out during the Guiliani years.

    This poem of the fall, the shared shame, is powerful and poignant. Thanks, Sherry. Love, Amy

  20. You have really described the life of the addict on the lower east side well, using the color gray. Mostly in negative form, but at the end it seems there is it is authentic and there is laughter, which is good! A strong write, Sherry.

  21. Sherry Blue Sky your name is color and you didn't disappoint us with this poignant description of the nearly colorless life of an addict.

  22. A world known well through work. Not anymore. If one gets close enough, could also become a victim of that suffering by witnessing it time and time again. you capture the colours well and also the community where it thrives through a certain immunity to it all. Quite sad really. I guess people become immune through developing a barrier to it all and that barrier comes in many forms... ('stigma - "his/her story, not mine", apathy - "you chose this, not me, deal with it", or that time honoured favourite that almost everyone signs up to - "it happens to the best of us!"

  23. very poignant!! an addiction, not all of them, have an end that is not grey!

  24. You give such deeper meaning to the colour gray, Koko!

    I love it.


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