scarecrow poetics/essays

Monday, May 01, 2006


A Rock and a Hard Place...

one floor before we reached the top
of the Stalin-grey concrete tower-block
we found ourselves in a line
all waiting for the same guy
to sell us cut, milk-sugar heroin:

I was struck by the Englishness
of it all:
forming a queue
to buy shitty drugs

stuck behind a silent, hulking Rastafari
and in front of a sniffling Russian kid
who swore that the shit was getting weaker:
“a tenner-bag won’t even get me straight” he sighed
and I wondered if his old life
in some collapsed soviet state
could be any worse than this one

doing the deal
in a small unfurnished room
stuffed full of paranoia
and rickety, stolen handguns
before being ushered through
a metal side door

and we were out

down through a maze of concrete and
rusting steel, the saddest looking playground
in the world, a child’s abandoned shoe
lay next to a decaying roundabout
a seesaw with an empty can of Special Brew
upturned to the left

the Dagenham tower blocks
cutting into the nuclear sky
like the misshapen, yellow teeth
of the drunks on the benches
rising out of their bloody, black gums

a crow caw-caws and a car alarm
wails across the evening
like some mournful call to prayer
for cat burglars and petty thieves

on a bench
I watch
while Steve cooks up two bags
and right there in the playground
we fix with the muggy air
close around us

surrounded by the broken glass
and the shattered lives
unraveling in these government rabbit warrens
I feel completely
of my place:


in a shitty universe
which stretches, infinite,
like one billion
Dagenham council estates

I think:
this is no way to

but then I think of my father
hunched over
back broken
pumped full of morphine
and ink

25 years
on the job
and they left him
with nothing
but money that wouldn’t last
and chronic pain

and outside of this playground
lives dictated by alarm clocks
and work whistles:
clocking in
clocking out
commuting to work
or to unexpected death
concealed in abandoned backpacks

people spending more time
with sour faced bosses
and dour, hateful co-workers
than those they love

weeks spent
in minimum wage servitude
instead of laughing in dark bars
and drinking away the sunlight

I look at the needle in my hand
and I realize

oh Jesus
maybe I’ve got it
after all

Tony O'Neill © 2006.

In a previous life Tony O’Neill played keyboards for bands and artists as diverse as Kenickie, Marc Almond and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. After moving to Los Angeles his promising career was derailed by heroin addiction, quickie marriages and crack abuse. While kicking methadone he started writing about his experiences on the periphery of the Hollywood Dream and he has been writing ever since. His autobiographical novel DIGGING THE VEIN will be published in Feb 2006 by Contemporary Press, in the US and Canada. Wrecking Ball Press plan to release a UK edition Summer 2006. He lives in New York where he works a variety of odd jobs and writes.

More details can be found at


March 2005   April 2005   May 2005   June 2005   July 2005   August 2005   September 2005   October 2005   November 2005   December 2005   January 2006   February 2006   March 2006   May 2006   June 2006   March 2007   September 2007   October 2007  

scarecrow home...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?