FIVE POEMS by Shannon Frost Greenstein


I saw a car accident
shards of glass soaring like shrapnel crumpled steel a faceoff for the ages sound waves crashing roiling shattering I gasp like a Victorian lady my hand to my heart whiplash a man emerges clutching his neck
and now, I feel
like the asphalt is water and the calm sky is a tempest and my Toyota adrift amongst the rubble
of the wreck
entropy entropy the destruction not according to anyone’s plan God’s plan the chaos of the moment the shock of impact of combat whole automobiles made two dimensional a crush of velocity
Five seconds earlier
approaching the intersection, it would have been me
breathing in particulate matter from the airbag and
clutching my neck and I am
by the moment like it is I who narrowly avoided
mass and force and metal and rubber and adrenaline and speed and rage and luck or unluck or chance or fortune or ka or free will or serendipity or the Sword of Damocles or the Reaper

It looked choreographed but somehow
also out-of-control, a dialectic
that makes me doubt my own lived
and as I drive through the detritus of Newton’s
First Law
I thank the God in whom I don’t
believe that all have been spared from the
behind every turn.
relief life-affirming and an affirmation of life I am alive they are alive forever changed breathe each breath breathe lucky to breathe gratitude thanks life is a gift tomorrow will be a beautiful day


They orchestrated the opioid epidemic, you know;
twirling coiffed mustaches, stroking sinister cats, they distributed pills like candy, pharmacological Skittles made of addiction and intergenerational trauma in the name of Capitalism

all for the sake
of someone else’s profit.

If you take any AstraZeneca medicines, and you cannot afford them, AstraZeneca has a few different programs that may help you meet your needs.

There is no magic pill
we pretend
a balm of Gilead, just like a Tic Tac, filled with the alchemy of the Dark Ages, really just evolution’s chemical reactions or actual, literal mold;
we swallow, and wait, and expect relief
broken bones, broken minds
and rage when we are not healed, repaired, cleansed of illness or existential pain
and they say, “Here, swallow more.”

Tell your doctor or pharmacist right away if you have any withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, mental/mood changes (including anxiety, trouble sleeping, thoughts of suicide), watering eyes, runny nose, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, muscle aches, or sudden changes in behavior.

The doctor who graduated at the very bottom of the medical school class,
G.P.A. in the depths, shaky hands, sloppy sutures, prone to panic,
is still a doctor.

The doctor is accused of prescribing dangerous combinations of drugs such as fentanyl and oxycodone, sometimes in exchange for sex, authorities said.

Not all doctors are healers and not all healers are doctors and not all psychotropic miracles do harm, Hippocrates cringing in the background at pill farms and insurance practices and medical malpractice
a loaded gun, the potential for devastation lies in wait
for those with the genes, or the trauma, or the misfortune
to succumb to numbness, to ecstasy, to self-medication in the name of psychic pain relief and then
lose themselves, and everything else,

all for the sake
of someone else’s profit.

If you suspect that someone you love has a prescription drug addiction, there are ways that you can help.

Physicians, pushers, saviors, drug dealers, brilliant, fallible;
the pharmacists and the industry and the chemists and the invisible hand;
the gestalt at fault
and all culpable
and a populace suffering
and sickness abounds
despite the scripts.

In the placebo-controlled premarketing studies, the most common adverse events associated with this medication were:

  • Neuropsychiatric adverse events including suicidality
  • Seizures
  • Accidental Injury
  • Serious Skin Reactions
  • Somnambulism
  • Abnormal dreams (vivid, unusual, strange)

an epidemic
and no end in sight;

all for the sake
of someone else’s profit.


What is pleasure
except a catalyst behind the inevitable craving
for more pleasure?

What is ecstasy
except a pure moment unadulterated by
the distraction of pain?

What is suffering
except the vast expanse before the event horizon
that is the death of hope?

What is agony
except all that can possibly exist in the world
wherever it happens to go?

What is dopamine
except Nancy Reagan’s campaign to “Just Say No”
because of the danger of bliss?

What is a moral compass
except the justification of our collective behavior
in service of the will to survive?

What is fucking
except an inherent drive to celebrate the best parts
of being alive?

And what is the big fucking deal
except for St. Augustine’s posthumous judgment regarding
our pursuit of gratification?

Fuck it. Just fuck me.

Trigger warning: this poem references an eating disorder.

S-S-S & M-M-M

After Rihanna

I am twenty years into my eating disorder
and eighteen years into kink. These two urges

– the urge to disappear and the urge to be seen,
the urge to harm and the urge to transcend,
the urge to numb and the urge to feel –

are intrinsically connected. They share a foundation; they are sides of a coin.

Oh, I love the feeling you bring to me
It’s exactly what I’ve been yearning for

It is, to be clear, all about control,
and the things we do when life feels uncontrollable.

There’s no way I’m turning back

When things are bad, I crave only bone;
disgusted by the fat and flesh of my body.
The only respite to the omnipresent vitriol
in my ailment-plagued brain is
weight loss;
the digits dropping on the scale, the ever-descending number.

The affliction of the feeling leaves me wanting more

When things are good, I crave sensation;
a hedonist, I seek connection; I seek reward.
The only respite to the omnipresent vitriol
in my ailment-plagued brain is
not the kind that hurts,
but more the kind that soothes.

Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it

Taking control, by giving it up,
in the face of all which remains wild and

The urge to create is the same
as the urge to destroy.

Now the pain is my pleasure, ’cause nothing could measure

These two urges –

The urge to fuck and the urge to be fucked, the urge to build and the urge to tear down, the urge to punish and the urge to reward –

are intrinsically connected. They share a foundation; they are sides of a coin.

My Anorexia is the urge turned inward,
The pendulum swing towards destruction;
energy I am not using creatively,
energy I am not using to create.

Sticks and stones may break my bones

My masochism is the urge projected outward,
generating, crafting, climbing to climax;
energy that empowers me,
energy that I build with another.

But chains and whips excite me

I am twenty years into my eating disorder
And eighteen years into kink. I am alive today
because I sublimate
one into the other.
And it has gotten me this far.

Cause I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it

I will always manage mental illness.
But at least I have great sex.


Punk is rage, red hot magma violently simmering
beneath the surface;
uncontainable fury at an establishment that labels
all punk rockers as the “other.”

Punk is combat, the all-encompassing struggle for
that ultimate “fuck you,”
the fight for generational change made manifest;
and the future an empty unknown.

Punk is a quest, an epic journey of
terror and wrath
while the world continues to turn
as if this crusade is not currently raging.

Punk is power, the clout to quiet an entire room
and its collective judgment;
dropped jaws and second glances and whispered comments
at the dominion to be different.

Punk is strength, a Sisyphean effort to continue; the Darwinian drive
to endure and persist;
Nietzschean Will to Power incarnate
and survival through sheer grit.

Punk is radical honesty, lost and adrift in
a sea of inauthenticity;
the courage to live one’s own Truth
whatever the cost.

Therapy is all these things and more. It is triumph over self-destruction
and a brain without serotonin.
It is a painful commitment to build a life worth living,
because therapy is the most punk rock.

Shannon Frost Greenstein is the author of “Pray for Us Sinners,” fiction from Alien Buddha Press, and “More.”, a poetry collection by Wild Pressed Books. Follow her at


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