from Zones of Avoidance

by Maggie Sawkins

I’m reading ‘The Confessions of an English Opium Eater’ –
I want to understand what drove my daughter out in the snow

with no coat or socks, in search of a fix.
I want to understand what divinity led her

to set up camp in the derelict ‘pigeon house’
after running out of sofas to surf.


I was a Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds girl myself.
I liked the way it made inanimate objects move,

until that day in Balham when my guy sang Rock n Roll Suicide
from a third floor window, and an Alsatian leapt

from the wood grain of the station door, and policemen
were penguins in disguise.


Tough Love. The mantra of the support group for those
beaten by their loved one’s addiction.

When I was busted at nineteen and the bedsit landlord
tipped my belongings onto the street, the last person

I would’ve turned to was my mother.
You’ve made your bed. Lie on it. Lie on it. Lie on it.


My mother warned me about heroin, but it wasn’t to be
my drug of choice –

I preferred to turn on, tune in, drop out to Timothy Leary,
pick up my needle and move to another groove,

to fathom Hell and soar angelic,
to take a pinch of psychedelic.