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Addicts Die a Thousand Deaths

By Christina Thatcher

so I pick a thousand poems to read

at a thousand funerals. Order them:

first one which states grief is the act of arranging

elephant bones, then another about a deer slammed

by a car, how its organs release like parachute silks,

how we should never see what is inside of us.

I make notes for a thousand eulogies with a thousand

un-pc admissions—say how easy it is to give up

on addicts. Then, I perform a thousand radical acts

of blame. Say maybe these deaths aren’t from heroin at all,

or fentanyl, or meth or pills. Maybe the coroner

shouldn’t have listed their cause as lungs slowing to sloth-pace

or pinpointed the uneven rhythm of hearts. Instead,

the death certificates should read: us, the thousands

of funeral-going families. They should say we watched blood bloom

in the fault lines of arms, turned away when veins

collapsed like mineshafts. They should say we admitted, too often,

in whispers, our desire to be free. That we willed these kills

a thousand times. And in the end, I will step down from every podium

and say I’m sorry, I know, I agree. It couldn’t haven’t been us.

We never had the right gear for this.

We never learned to rescue.

CHRISTINA THATCHER is a Creative Writing Lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She keeps busy off campus too as the Poetry Editor for The Cardiff Review, a tutor for The Poetry School, a member of the Literature Wales Management Board and as a freelance workshop facilitator across the UK. Her poetry and short stories have featured in over 50 publications including The London Magazine, Planet Magazine, And Other Poems, Acumen,The Interpreter’s House and more. Her first collection, More than you were, was published by Parthian Books in 2017 and named a Poetry School Book of the Year. Her second collection, How to Carry Fire, is forthcoming with Parthian Books in 2020. To learn more about Christina’s work please visit her website: or follow her on Twitter @writetoempower.


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