Caleb Knights Comments
When I was in active addiction, my concept of love became completely distorted. I saw people the same way I saw drugs—I was interested in whoever or whatever could help me feel OK for a little while. In recovery, I’m beginning to understand love may have been distorted first, and maybe that distortion was what I was trying to fix by turning to substances to deliver a shallow approximation of love’s warmth for whatever amount of time they remained in my body. Whichever came first—the chicken or the broken love—it’s clear the two are inseparably entwined, and each of these poems aims to explore a different knot of their entanglement.
“Love Songs of the Unmarried and Childless” is about the confusion of recovering at an age when friends and siblings are settling down in stable lives and being unsure whether to envy those lives or reject them completely, and also navigating the delicate balance of honoring personal needs in relation to the needs of a romantic partner; “Not Having Known Now for a Long Time” is about losing my virginity, which, as the poem illustrates, was a hopelessly complicated introduction to the world of physical love; “Missionary Work” explores the parallels between the ways my mother and I looked for love after my parents’ divorce (which, surprise surprise, was also the summer I started drinking); and “Dying Is More Intimate Than a Blowjob” is a poem for my friend Phill, who stuck with me during one of the darker periods of my active addiction. Phill was the first man I ever had consensual physical intimacy with, and this poem is both a reckoning of the ways my addictions damaged our relationship, as well as a celebration of being in a place of recovery where I’m able to reconnect with Phill, take accountability for my actions, and share friendship and love with him once again as we meet each other in much healthier lives.
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