poems from the front lines of the opiate epidemic


how do you survive the heroin addiction of someone you love and keep your heart open?

Miriam's poems address the ravages of addiction and hope for healing and recovery. She has done readings at the Mass Poetry Festival, the Riverwood Poetry Series, and at meetings of Learn to Cope, an organization for families and friends of those struggling with drug addiction in cities and towns throughout Massachusetts 

if you are interested in a poetry reading to your group or organization, please contact me


read a sample of Miriam's published poetry:


where the carpet stains begin 

at the door and end at the window

 where the air is stale with smoke  

from cigarettes lit years ago 

where her art class engraving  

of a dragon her photo  

of a young boy throwing stones 

into a pond hang  

in silence where I heard her voice 

in muted tones beneath the noise 

of the TV where girls giggled  

on overnights a floor away  

from discovery 

where she fell asleep with the phone 

on her face where her adolescence  

took place—the hidden  

beer and the boys—where  

after college she returned 

to hibernate for winter and never  

emerged for spring  

where blood spilled  

into the needle pills fell 

under the bed where spirits 

of the addicted dead feed 

on the memory of heroin 

where the space is not 

converted to a guest room 

where no one goes anymore 

where the door is closed 

where the past is frozen  


Let's talk about addiction

the CIA connection, drug money

to finance covert shiipments

of weapons, hidden wars,

that baby lying dead

on the streets of Kabul,

your daughter in her quilted bed

with a blackened spoon and syringe.

Let's talk about Mr. Gagliardi

of Medford who died at midday

on the grass in Boston Garden

shooting up in front of tourists

who found a fresh corpse

where they expected red and yellow tulips.

Crowds on their way

to catch a play on Washington Street

treated to front row seats 

of theatre verite, the last act

in which the needle hangs 

from the dead man's arm

while the faint of heart turn away.

Let's talk about suicide,

direct and inadvertent. Vehicular homicide, 

that last joy ride before the lifelong spin

in the wheelchair. Let's talk about theft,

crimes committed as a means

to get high. Let' not forget random

acts of violence in which heroin meth crack 

cocaine drive the live action

thriller in the killer's brain.

Let's talk about the purity of high-octane

smack, unmixed and the cost of a six-pack, 

grown for your loved ones

in rich Afghan fields of poppy

by farmers with nothing 

else to sell but their daughters.

Let's talk about your teenage son

who thought snorting oxyocontin

would be fun and wound up

strung out, breaking into homes

for trinkets. Look past the picket fences

you'll find the lawn disturbed

in your neighbor's yard. Note the crimson 

cardinal and his red-crested mate. 

To face the Hydra-headed god

who's kidnapped your child, you'll need

a bracing shot of beauty the way

an end-stage drunk needs booze.


I have lived like thin smoke rising

     from a bloody field.

I have stretched my stringy will

     through one more night.

Not to forsake my child. Not to capitulate.

     To save a life

Is to save the world,  the Talmud says. 

     Can a poem save a life?

Shall I write new blood into dead words?

     Shall I peel back my sleeve?

Will the whisper of stones seep in-

     to the cordoned room 

Of my loneliness? Shall I rise

     to one more morning?

copyright 2013-2016  Miriam Greenspan