That dread eternal instant

Ten thousand night terrors


                         s t r e t c h e d - o u t
                        when I found you
               before your
                         air -
                     it was
                         that culmination
                     of ten thousand night terrors
                was filled with lifetimes 
          of the grief of loss
that dread eternal instant
then a message surged into my brain
demanding that you live again
I needed you to be alive
You must survive you must survive

heroin was the heartless whore
that held you in her needled claw
and though I feared her murderous might
I wouldn't let her win this fight
the weight of my love gave a beat to your heart
as I gave you the massage of life
and matching my pulse was the chant in my head
you can't be dead you can't be dead
my body became a machine of revival
rhythmically working for your survival
and when the paramedics came
 and tagged me in my desperate game
  they had to fight heroically
     to finalise recovery
            the terrors
           extending outwards
            to become 
              the very core and
                  crust of my existence

© Jane Paterson Basil

Author: janebasilblog

Jane sits around and writes a bit, then she does some other stuff, then she sits around and writes a bit more, then she eats something. Sometimes, at night, she goes to bed.

6 thoughts on “That dread eternal instant”

  1. What a terrifying poem about the horrors of having a close relative – it sounds like your son or daughter – almost die of a heroin overdose. It’s so evocative this poem and I love the way you’ve done the formatting that heightens the effect of the words. As a recovering addict who was using cocaine 22 hours a day and was warned that every time I made myself sick because of my bulimia which I did 3 times a day I could have a fatal heart attack I am well aware of the closeness of death in addiction. I know too many people who have overdosed on heroin and died. I hope the end of the poem is not expressing your reality now and that that terror can shift.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder if you can imagine the feeling it gives me to get a message such as yours…
      Thank you for the attention you have given to your comment, and thank you for your good wishes, but most of all thank you for being one of the heroes who opens up and talks candidly about addiction. Congratulations on your success. Be proud of it.
      If you take a look at my About page, you’ll see that I exhort people to shout. In whatever way we are affected by addiction, we need to make ourselves heard, if we have the courage.
      The poem refers to my son’s first heroin overdose in the summer of 2013. He OD’s a couple of weeks after that, but I brought him back without help from the paramedics that time. About two years ago he was imprisoned for a knife robbery and he got clean as soon as he hit the jail. He came out last summer, and although he immediately slipped up and woke up in hospital the next day, having almst died again, things are going well for him now. He got clean again without the help of Methadone or Subutex, and although, as you will understand, he finds life tough, he never wants to go back down that road.


    1. Thank you – the tagging wasn’t quite as simple as it sounds. They told me they could take over, but I kept pumping his chest, because I was so sure if I stopped it would be the end of him. They had to almost pull me away, and the first two shots they gave him had no effect. As the paramedic put a third shot into his cannula, the paramedic said “This is the last I can give him. If this doesn’t work, I’m afraid we’ve lost him.” Laura, Claire, my grandson Mark (aged 16 at the time) and I were all sitting around the edges of the room, holding our breath, each in our individual hell, unable to comfort each other; convinced it was the end. Paul didn’t react. I saw the paramedic kind of slump, and then, just as we were sure it was over, Paul leapt up from the sofa into a standing position and stared around him wildly. The cannula ripped from his arm and blood sprayed over the sofs, the wall, the carpet. He didn’t know what was going on, and he thought he was being raped. Before the paramedic had time to calm the situation down, I screamed at him like a fishwife, calling him all the names under the sun. My behaviour was terrible, but the paramedic in charge agreed with everything I said. She said it had been touch and go, and if he hadn’t recovered, it would have been the second heroin addict who had died in her care that week.
      Paul refused to be admitted to hospital, so I had to stay up all night and watch him.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Neither have I, but there are so many parents in a similar position – except that usually their children aren’t quite so in-your-face about it; often the parents don’t know just how bad it is.
        I think it’s pretty rare for a parent to have the honour of resuscitating their OD’ing child.


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