Seeing Pink Elephants

Before 2016…

It’s usually around seven when I wake up, when the circadian alarm announces it’s time to contend with a horrifying, if somewhat obscene, morning ritual known as the DTs—or, to employ a more gentle euphemism: “seeing pink elephants.” What this means is I go to the bathroom, close the door, and let the toilet lid down. Then, I just sit (idly? No.) shaking on the cold, polypropylene. My right palm cradles the clenched left fist in a pseudo stance of prayer, one comrade bending to console the other, whereas my arms and elbows tuck in like wings or else I might fly away. I chew my lip to stall its quivering, or perhaps to muffle the ghastly noises emitting from my mouth. Continuously, I wipe my nose clean with the back of my hand when a smear caught in fluorescent light becomes a makeshift mirror reflecting a face fatigued from years of addiction. A face I want to erase.

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Darius Stewart is the author of three chapbook collections of poetry: The Terribly Beautiful (2006), Sotto Voce (2008), and The Ghost the Night Becomes (2014, winner of the 2013 Gertrude Press Poetry Chapbook Prize). His work also appears in anthologies and national journals of the literary arts. He resides in Knoxville, Tennessee, somewhat peacefully, with his dog, Fry.

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