“Clean” by Scott-Patrick Mitchell

after one day you still haven’t slept. you wonder what you’re doing with yourself. energy grates. grinding makes you deaf. remember, all poetry begins with a decision, either to read it or write it, so stick in there, stick with this. you are a poem, let that be known: from this, an epic shall be sewn. dispose of all needs, all greed, all needles that pierce to the heart of needful things. getting clean begins with cleaning, so clean. replace with forgiveness.

after four days, sleep has come. hard. there was a stretch of day just gone where the majority  of it you spent unconscious. Hypnos was glad you finally stopped by, took the time to realign neurons, reshape landscapes. in Oz, all houses that fly must drop. let the crush of blankets be a mortar of dreams, a foundation that kills addictiveness. allow ruby slippers to be stolen from your feet. do not chase after them. red shoes will make you dance until you’re dead. instead, if you can, remain buried. you shall arise, anew, from this grave, adorned in the resilience of dew.

after one week you will feel like shit, but this is your own fault. please note that this is no excuse to return to the behaviour you have learnt by rote. instead, drag yourself though the days as if you are a zombie. instead of brains, eat. fill your veins with nutrients. the stink of chemicals has, out of you, seeped. if all else fails, sleep.

after three weeks your dealer will text you to make sure you haven’t died. do not reply: they care little for your wellbeing, concern themselves only with money. and addiction. if necessary, drink more coffee to give yourself a kick. those flashes of fun that burn in your brain are ghosts. they shall haunt you for as long you travel down this road. remind yourself that these desires are dying: let them.

after four weeks that money in your pocket shall yearn to be spent, so buy yourself books, or a new look, or more food to fill up the aching spaces behind your ribs. replace all the things that addiction took.

after two months the colour returns to the world, your cheeks. you are filling out your form as if filling out forms, ticking boxes for reassurance.  all progress is progress. if your dealer calls, block them. you are touching sun in the hours that, for a human, are normal. things are easier done. reward yourself with movies, with poems. become addicted to something other than destruction.

after four months you will feel human. it is a long path, an arc across calendars that, back then, you could not imagine. the mark on your arm has lost the colour, no longer bruised, is simply a reminder. do not let shame fill that mark: self-harm has taught you how far from it you have come. shame is the most awful thing you can experience, so face it head-on. take each day as though it were a new lover you have embraced in your arms for the first time. learn how to make it aroused, how to undress it, how to make it cum. be proud of small accomplishments, like paying bills, looking at yourself in the mirror without feeling ill, how muscle is taut, how you are un-gaunt. make tea. smile softly.

after six months you will still be haunted, but do not flaunt it. to follow those spectres is to once again become your own debt collector. balance all checks. remind yourself constantly: you’ve got this.


Scott-Patrick Mitchell is a queer West Australian poet who examines how recovery can assist in writing. Visit @spmpoet on Instagram for daily doses of micropoetry.