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Relapse

Rhett Maddox was a hell of a poet when he was sober. He was a veteran of AA. He had done about 50 steps of the "twelve-step" program because -- sooner or later -- he would relapse, descend into the surreal hell of drunkenness, and --later or sooner, whenever he had lost every thing and every person in his life -- would have to start all over again at "step one." He died in New Orleans when he was 39 years old.
When he next risks a glance,
his morning mirror face
eyes him as coldly as
as coldly as
a hooded executioner,
shaking the tangles from his lash
before he starts to shred
the helpless, hopeless flesh.
Torturer and victim,
face to face:

Mirrors do not lie.

-- Warren F. O'Rourke, 1990