Brownout

I’m not sure what they’re calling it these days.
In my time you were “gouching”, “nodding out”;
there’ll be some other name for it, no doubt,
as language shifts its shape. But this malaise
remains unchanged: that head-down slump betrays
the use of morphine (or her daughters) like a shout
for help in silence. Mud-caked knees bent out,
his fingers blackened, burned, the way he lays —
like sleep released him from the pain of fear’s
reflection in the eyes of passers-by,
rejection every moment of the hour,
each hour of the day, the month. The years
slipped through those fingers, somehow — who knows why?
His fall was his, perhaps. His landing’s ours.

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