The Addict

Hell Really Exists

Hell Really Exists

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Sleepmonger, deathmonger, with capsules in my palms each night, eight at a time from sweet pharmaceutical bottles

I make arrangements for a pint-sized journey.

I'm the queen of this condition.

I'm an expert on making the trip and now they say I'm an addict.

Now they ask why.


Don't they know that I promised to die! I'm keeping in practice. I'm merely staying in shape. The pills are a mother, but better, every color and as good as sour balls. I'm on a diet from death.

Yes, I admit it has gotten to be a bit of a habit — blows eight at a time, socked in the eye, hauled away by the pink, the orange, the green and the white goodnights. I'm becoming something of a chemical mixture. That's it!

My supply of tablets has got to last for years and years. I like them more than I like me. Stubborn as hell, they won't let go. It's a kind of marriage. It's a kind of war where I plant bombs inside of myself.

Yes I try to kill myself in small amounts, an innocuous occupation.

Actually I'm hung up on it.

But remember I don't make too much noise.

And frankly no one has to lug me out and I don't stand there in my winding sheet.

I'm a little buttercup in my yellow nightie eating my eight loaves in a row and in a certain order as in the laying on of hands or the black sacrament.

It's a ceremony but like any other sport it's full of rules.

It's like a musical tennis match where my mouth keeps catching the ball. Then I lie on my altar elevated by the eight chemical kisses.

What a lay me down this is with two pink, two orange, two green, two white goodnights. Fee-fi-fo-fum — Now I'm borrowed. Now I'm numb.

First of February 1966


Live or die, but don't poison everything ...

it has a hell of a lot to do with hell and suspicion of the eye and the religious objects and how I mourned them when they were made obscene by my dwarf-heart's doodle.

The chief ingredient is mutilation.

And mud, day after day, mud like a ritual, and the baby on the platter, cooked but still human, cooked also with little maggots, sewn onto it maybe by somebody's mother, the damn bitch 1

Even so,

I kept right on going on, a sort of human statement, lugging myself as if

I were a sawed-off body in the trunk, the steamer trunk.

This became a perjury of the soul.

It became an outright lie and even though I dressed the body it was still naked, still killed.

It was caught in the first place at birth, like a fish.

But I played it, dressed it up, dressed it up like somebody's doll.

Is life something you play?

And all the time wanting to get rid of it?

And further, everyone yelling at you to shut up. And no wonder!

People don't like to be told that you're sick and then be forced to watch you come down with the hammer.

Today life opened inside me like an egg and there inside after considerable digging

I found the answer.

What a bargain!

There was the sun, her yolk moving feverishly, tumbling her prize —

and you realize that she does this daily!

I'd known she was a purifier but I hadn't thought she was solid, hadn't known she was an answer. God! It's a dream, lovers sprouting in the yard like celery stalks and better, a husband straight as a redwood, two daughters, two sea urchins, picking roses off my hackles. If I'm on fire they dance around it and cook marshmallows. And if I'm ice they simply skate on me in little ballet costumes.

Here, all along, thinking I was a killer, anointing myself daily with my little poisons. But no.

I'm an empress.

I wear an apron.

My typewriter writes.

It didn't break the way it warned.

Even crazy, I'm as nice as a chocolate bar.

Even with the witches' gymnastics they trust my incalculable city, my corruptible bed.

0 dearest three,

1 make a soft reply. The witch comes on and you paint her pink.

I come with kisses in my hood and the sun, the smart one, rolling in my arms. So I say Live and turn my shadow three times round to feed our puppies as they come, the eight Dalmatians we didn't drown, despite the warnings: The abort! The destroyl

Despite the pails of water that waited to drown them, to pull them down like stones, they came, each one headfirst, blowing bubbles the color of cataract-blue and fumbling for the tiny tits.

Just last week, eight Dalmatians,

H of a lb., lined up like cord wood each like a birch tree.

I promise to love more if they come, because in spite of cruelty and the stuffed railroad cars for the ovens,

I am not what I expected. Not an Eichmann.

The poison just didn't take.

So I won't hang around in my hospital shift, repeating The Black Mass and all of it.

I say Live, Live because of the sun, the dream, the excitable gift.

February the last, 1966

Love Poems

One should say before sleeping, "I have lived many lives. I have been a slave and a prince. Many a beloved has sat upon my knees and I have sat upon the knees of many a beloved. Everything that has been shall be again."

From an essay by W. B. Yeats

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  • jessika
    When did ann sexton write the addict?
    4 months ago

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