“Short Answers to Hard Questions About the Opioid Crisis” : An Ekphrasis

“Short Answers to Hard Questions About the Opioid Crisis” : An Ekphrastic 
Where are we?
We stand atop a red heap overlooking
the scribble of the first world.
The chart includes both deaths from drug poisoning
and those caused by drug-related mental disorders
What is an opioid?
Something that acts on opioid receptors
but that’s not really that helpful.
It is the scent of a flower
     that takes the pain away.
It is the black seed that swarms
     like ants in your mouth.
Another word for opioid is narcotic
What do they do?
Clinical trials in Canton have proven opium’s effectiveness
                     at bringing a nation to its knees.
Opium should not be mixed with gunpowder unless
               your doctor hails from the United Kingdom
Where am I?
Driving on black tar roads.
Moving like oxycontin through a vein
straight to an American heartland.
Then on my knees vomiting
by the highway. My surgery still hurts
even three months later
To make sure this is safe for you
please tell your doctor if you have:
chest pain
liver disease
insurance that will leave you high and dry and sweating for more
or trouble breathing
Your vital signs will be watched closely
while you receive your medication
Anything else?
You may be given other pain medications
to use after your treatment is discontinued
* Inspired by: Katz, Josh. “Short Answers to Hard Questions About the Opioid Crisis.” New York Times 10 Aug. 2017. Web.


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