Drug Taking Can Be Thwarted

Drug taking can be thwarted
by just saying no
one tarot card reading
president’s wife assured us
from much the same pool
of knowledge my home ec
teacher informed our eighth-grade class
pregnancy could be prevented
by keeping both feet on the floor,
and our phys ed teacher’s
reassuring news that rape
is impossible
for good girls whose vaginas,
would lock up like
savings and loan vaults,
at precisely the right moment.

My father folded the daily newspaper
over his forearm like a maitre d’
places a white cloth over his
and stands at watch for his customers’
slightest culinary complaint.
Twenty years sober,
and I remember this,
he was dragged kicking
and screaming into the kingdom of God
and he still had that veiled eye
until he died,
the one addled by sobriety,
not raised from the dead
to the world’s
congratulatory back patting.
Russia and the Cold War,
Cuba, Kennedy,
bills from the Power and Light,
an incorrectly folded road map
could set him off,
pique the buried old appetite,
and though never indulged,
it remained lurking,
fed by dry drunk rage.

My mother too had succumbed by age 57.
She made my father look like Jimmy Carter,
by that time herself legally prescribed,
with enough valium to knock
the Mormon Tabernacle choir on its collective ass,
and legally, for all practical purposes, murdered.
That was after her mother, passed around
relatives like King Lear,
simply mad—
I mean, quick, hide-the-silver mad—
feigned suicide one numinous afternoon,
by lying down behind our old Chevrolet,
while my mother gunned the motor. Impatiently.
Will you? My question astounds
me to this day, hanging, as it did,
in the monoxide swirling
garage crammed with familiar bikes
and old lawn mowers awaiting salvage,
now gone strange.
I, having just been beckoned from
my dolls and tree house,
passenger side for this potential wild ride,
whispered the unprecedented to which
(like I was in church kicking
the pew in front of us;
like I was at the neighborhood potluck
reaching for the last lonely lemon square)
she shook her head her short, violent,
famous no.

Suicide can be thwarted
by just saying no.

About the Author

Dori LaRue teaches advanced composition, and occasionally American literature and creative writing at LSU in Shreveport. She received her PhD in early American literature and creative writing from the University of Louisiana, where she studied under Ernie Gaines (fiction) and Darryl Borque (poetry).

Her previous publications include, Mad Rains, (2015 Kelsay Press), a collection of poems informed by her experiences teaching in Bangladesh; Resurrecting Virgil, (2000 Backwaters Press) a novel which won the Omaha Prize, and Learning Curves, (CreateSpace 2011) which won the Kirkus Award for Best Independent Novel. She has also published individual poems and short stories in the American Poetry Review, the Southern Review, the Maryland Review and many others. In addition, she has published book reviews, and one scholarly article (on Ellen Gilchrist) in the Georgia Review. She is currently collecting her short stories, Only Visiting This Planet, into one manuscript to submit for publication. She was the recipient of grants and awards from the B. Bruce and Steve N. Simon Endowment for Professorships, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and the Shreveport Regional Arts Council. Recent acceptances and publications include a short story in an anthology (RWP fall 2019) and a poem in the Ekphrastic Review. To view more of their work click below.