studies-of-insects-beetles-1707
The Bondage of Self
by Kevin Ridgeway

the flies are screwing in the open air,
and the roaches scream “help me”
from split concrete devastated by a
miniaturized apocalyptic world;
I’m twenty-one days sober with
brain damage twirling behind my
forehead of worry lines that whisper
moans from Sisyphus with a prolonged
grimace, tremulous fingers that want
to fall in a graveyard of dead leaves.
This slow-burn transformation is
crushing the parasite I became in
those last months of my failed
self-annihilation, my face peeling
away the visage of my junky father
to a stranger I have never met in
the past thirty-two years of life on
earth that I am slowly getting to know
after a living burial of fear, isolation
and blind rage. I put out my cigarette
and step over a cockroach whose life
I spare with the hope that it someday
grows back into the humanity I’ve
barely come to discover in the healing
waves of this season of blessed renewal.

IMAGE: “Study of Beetles” by Shi Tao (1656).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am in early recovery after years spent grappling with active addiction. This poem expresses my slow climb from total demoralization and into a metamorphosis based upon fearless change. It addresses my need to let go of an agonized self that was trapped in existential futility, and the beginning of a growth toward learning to live this life we all share through all of its beauty and ugliness.

ridgeway

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kevin Ridgeway lives and writes in Long Beach, California. Recent work can be found or is forthcoming in Chiron Review, Re)verb, Nerve Cowboy, San Pedro River Review, Lummox, Right Hand Pointing, Misfit Magazine, and The Mas Tequila Review. He is the author of six chapbooks of poetry, the most recent two being On the Burning Shore (Arroyo Seco Press) and Riding Off Into That Strange Technicolor Sunset: Dallas-FT. Worth Poems (The Weekly Weird Monthly).

PHOTO: The author in Long Beach, CA (2015).