[the poetry billboard] - 'To Wurtzel, whose pain is human and strange' by Pei Ling Ho
To Wurtzel, whose pain is human and strange

Pei Ling Ho

Twenty-three pills crushed, bent double
from the grind lined up like smartly dressed soldiers
shipped off to war; they march on plastic countertops
stained saffron with coffee or backs of moleskins -
ready at a moment's notice
to rape onion sinuses
with a single dynamite charge, a deafening roar
no one else hears but you and I
they are our lovers, these enigmatic agents
always within reach, by the telephone or the rolodex
a wallflower's best friend at a book signing
unselfish while others wear thinly
as we wail, "me, me, me" in piteous need
for the next quick fix, to sleep
to eat, to speed.