“Like the best art,” (Whitehead 79)

by Gina Moriarty


“Cocaine” (Evans 214) “must enter the body” (Dillard 69) “in astronomical deposits,” (Wiener 172) “any smaller amount is worthless” (Boreth 176). “[I] filled [my] wine glass and lit a cigarette” (Sedaris 247) “and… ignited all the dark corners of the bar” (Hailer 33). “We smoke to capture the power of the sun, to pacify Hell, to identify with the primordial spark, to feed on the marrow of the volcano. It’s not the tobacco we’re after, but the fire” (Shacochis 109). “The illusion of dominance and control, the separation of knowledge from responsibility,” (Kimmerer Sweetgrass (346) “with each crack of the flame… maybe the fire’s blue center invited [me] to dream?” (Hailer 64) 

“Isn’t it pretty to think so?” (Hemingway 251) “[I] asked, slipping a tab of acid under [my] tongue” (Sedaris 234). 

“We were somewhere” (Thompson Fear 1) “along the Rust belt” (Herteneky) “when the drugs began to take hold” (Thompson Fear 1). “We came from different worlds and generations, but we shared a burning passion to explore…” (Evans 277). “We laid our… bedspreads over the dewy grass of the cemetery, smoking joints and trying to imagine a life” (Sedaris 248) “way out at the edge of the universe (Tinti 336). “I rolled onto my back and heard the music hum” (Housely 23). “[My dog, Bella,] stayed near us almost all the time” (Davis 182).

“[I was] moving closer to the edge, and (Whitehead 50) felt better knowing others were traveling this same elliptical course, that [we] would sometimes cross paths, that [we] would find love and lose love and recover from love and love again – because, if [we] were all going in circles,” (Tinti 336) “it fulfilled a prophecy” (Hailer 112). “I always liked… imagining our parallel lives clicking quietly along like two trains beside each other, with similar routes but different destinations” (Grealy 129). “Chico [reminded] me of a cactus, short and roundish, mostly bald, but with prickly hairs poking here and there from the sides of his head” (Shotland 126). “I remembered what Jedd said about cacti, how they right themselves, how they are always trying to stand up straight” (Moehringer 124). “When anything starts going downhill, lean against it, counter its weight, look up, and raise the world sinking before you” (Chai 244).  Whatever ground gained has slipped away. New obstacles arise,” (Dillard 50) “they curl inward upon themselves, as if suspended in daydreams” (Kimmerer Moss 36). 

“Soul-searching aside,” (Sedaris 65) “people at all times need outlaws” (Wolfe 264). “Outlaws, by definition, were people who had moved off of dead center and were out in some kind of Edge City” (Wolfe 170). “What kind of crazy are you?” (McMurtry 2187). “I was infamous for blacking out and leaving the bar…eventually finding my way home…” (Hailer 108) “pacing a cemetery, while [I] sat…alone, staring at the tip of [my] cigarette and envisioning [my]self” (Sedaris 250) “with lobotomy eyes” (Thompson Hell’s 5). “You can actually watch yourself behaving in this terrible way, but you can’t control it” (Thompson Fear 45). “[I had] some grieving to do and…. [my] remedy involved two hits of acid” (Sedaris 38). “The party continued for two days and nights, but” (Thompson Hell’s 232) “then the moon got serious” (Hailer 78). 

“For those caught up in a train wreck… it is impossible to absorb what is happening. Before the cataclysm can be experienced, it has already taken place” (Carlin 147). “I had the feeling as in a nightmare of it all being something repeated, something I had been through and that now I must go through again” (Hemingway Sun 71). “Psychologists call it dissociating, separating from one’s own identity. It’s a way of saying you’ve floated away from yourself, drifted out of your skin,” (Spalding 26) “but the man who comes back … will never be quite the same as the man who went out” (Huxley 79). “Psychedelic chemicals are not drugs in the usual sense of the word. There is no specific reaction, no expected sequence of events” (Leary 84). “Some days your questions will be finely attuned to your own personal set of circumstances, and sometimes they’ll focus on the bigger picture, encouraging you to deepen your understanding of your path in the world,” (Redfield 253) “and if drugs were what unlocked the doors…then so let it be” (Wolfe 50-1).

“We had two bags of grass… five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine and a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers…. Also, a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser” (Thompson Fear 4). “It was a very electric atmosphere” (Thompson Hell’s 235). “Taking LSD in a monster group like this gets too many forces going, too much amok energy,” (Wolfe 246) “galaxies of exploding colors,” (Latin 24) “shapes and forms and sounds whirling by endlessly” (Leary 34). 

“There [was] a roaring in [my] ears that [was] not the ocean” (Spalding 220). “The ground beneath my feet [rolled] in slow waves. For a long seasick moment my foot [hung] in midair, waiting for a solid place to stand” (Kimmerer Moss 111). “I found I could stare straight through a mirror, allowing none of the reflection to get back to me” (Grealy 220). “It wasn’t that I saw angels or elves, but suddenly I’d be inside a daydream that would lead me into another and then another” (Wiener 143). “The head promptly took on a third dimension and came to life as a small goblin-like man looking through a window in the page before me” (Huxley 36). 

“Once the moon showed me her jagged belly, told me how she broke off into space and got stuck” (Hailer 77). “The moon didn’t care” (McMurtry 1824). “Pain makes the mind see things differently than they are” (Machado 15). “I was free to wander, free to hope, and free to love” (Stevenson 37). “I [didn’t] have to think about what I felt all the time, and try to control it, with all its complications and all its consequences” (Davis 271). “I’d simply postpone happiness” (Grealy 187). 

“At age twenty-eight, strong and with the energy for a great future?” (Spalding 224). “I erupted” (Hailer 114). “Reality was just too much to take” (Bolden 139). “Nearly every night for over a year, I was blackout drunk. Nearly every morning for over a year, I woke up with an excruciating hangover” (Hailer 108). “After blowing lines and buying bags of coke … we’d be on… couches the next afternoon with headaches…. It just [felt] like there’s something empty inside me that I [needed] to fill” (Shotland 50). “[I] was free, but [my] life was going nowhere” (Latin 177). “I was like a prisoner’ (Yang 44). “[Our] hearts were all cycling through the same madness – the discovery, the bliss, the loss, the despair – like planets taking turns in orbit around the sun. Each containing [our] own unique gravity. [Our] own force of attraction. Drawing near and holding fast to whatever entered [our] own atmosphere” (Tinti 336). 

“[I] made a wish to the moon,” (Yang 148) “that renegotiating with the universe. That pleading with the world … That need for the bottle…. That drink… That healing and its intoxication” (Hailer 116). “The little pit inside me – it’s made of something, and that something isn’t anything like emptiness. It’s got weight and mass and body” (Shotland 50). It gets harder to control; it is a lion growing in strength” (Dillard 52). “It’ll consume me: I [knew] this” (Hailer 88). “What [I] had planned [would] not do. If [I pursued my] present course, [I would] explode or collapse” (Dillard 9). “Everything was going to shit” (Housely 9). “Internally, there was this real inconsistency” (Latin 146). “I could feel myself burning” (Sedaris 278). 

“During those hours, I discovered I was missing something that hadn’t happened to me yet” (Weiner 193). “I perceived how complicated these chains of imitations could become” (Moehringer 390). “What I wouldn’t give to possess the secret of flight” (Sukrungruang 62). “I wish too many things. But that is the thing,” (Hemingway Old 117) “you only get one wish” (Sedaris 271) “and the moon heard [me]” (Yang 148). 

“I’d wish, I said, I’d wish I could fly” (Sedaris 271). 

“The wind among the trees was my lullaby” (Stevenson 23). “It gave the woods a more ominous, brooding feel” (Bryson 253). “I had the urge to sing, to rear my head back and pour my soul into the woods. I could feel my thundering heart” (Hailer 60). “What kind of a person would I be if I were naturally happy?” (Sedaris 270) “I’d be at the top of my field… Instead, I’m a fucking bartender” (Shotland 40). I looked down the length of the [bar]. It was a long, narrow place, like a train car that wasn’t going anywhere” (Johnson 30). “Each time the light changes, tires spread it far and wide until it’s an invisible layer of sorrow” (Whitehead 138).

“I dream of a world guided by a lens of stories rooted in … revelations” (Kimmerer Sweetgrass 346). “I fear life without words” (Hailer 99). “It was a sobering thought that continued to haunt me as I sat down,” (Sedaris 263) “close to the river” (Yang 50). “Construction cranes lay like crosswords on the skyline” (Evans 51). “My dog used to bound up the hill after me and race along the shore” (Kimmerer Sweetgrass 95). “It was hard for [me] to accept the fact that [she] was gone” (Davis 193). 

“The moon rises” (Hailer 82). “I thought of the Hemingway story…, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” and the opening line about the summit of the mountain, called the House of God, where lay the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. “No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude,” Hemingway wrote. What was the point of that goddamned story? Was it that curiosity had killed the cat? Was the leopard trying to get laid? … Why read stories unless they could provide some practical help in emergencies like this?” (Moehringer 159) “…But now I see the danger of investing too much identity and emotional life in a place” (Spalding 116). “I wrote four or five sentences on a gamble, smoked more to stimulate the brain or stop the heart, whichever came first” (Dillard 50). “I felt shock but also relief, as if the part of me that was still in that small room upstairs could finally get up and go, too” (Spalding 116).

“In this, I suppose I am like a butterfly” (Davis 507).

“I think instead of separating from nature so we can see the nature in ourselves, we [should] stop drawing boundaries” (Carlin 41). “When you think about it, stories have this way of running together like raindrops in a pond” (Machado 16). 

“I’d take a deep breath and tell myself to tell the truth, and I would find the words, or they would find me. I didn’t have any illusions…There was a clarity about it, an authority, which I’d never managed to achieve before” (Moehringer 327). “Writers,” (Wolfe 153) were members of a secret society founded on self-loathing” (Sedaris 85). “I lit a cigarette” (Hailer 88). “Drugs were the easy part” (Sedaris 140). “The most demanding part of living a lifetime as an artist is the strict discipline of forcing oneself to work steadfastly along the nerve of one’s own most intimate sensitivity” (Dillard 68). “It is writing this that I become it again, change it, believe it, and change it again” (Hailer 74). 

 “History is the narrative of people searching for a place to go, and I liked that idea” (Moehringer 243). “Finding the words is another step in learning to see” (Kimmerer Moss 11) “how they weren’t about making a shrine to the past anymore, but to celebrate it” (Nieson 248). “While our bodies move ever forward on the timeline, our minds continuously trace backward, seeking shape and meaning as deftly as any arrow seeking its mark” (Grealy 26). “We used to haunt this place, and now it will always haunt us” (Moehringer 405). 

“[I] put out the cigarette” (Hemingway 247). “[I] stepped away from the mirror, reintroducing [myself] slowly, as if [my] reflection were a guest [I] was meeting for the first time” (Sedaris 71). “I am a walking survivor” (Hailer 112). “[I] lifted [my] glass in salute” (Sedaris 247). “Even [I] would have the chance to be closer to the sun” (Tinti 336). 

Works Cited

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Boreth, Craig. Hemingway Cookbook. Chicago Review Press, 2012. 

Bryson, Bill. A Walk in the Woods. Black Swan, 2015. Print.

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About the Author

Gina Moriarty is an emerging writer who earned her MFA through Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA this past May. She has a spiritual connection with Ernest Hemingway and a knack for ducking down research wormholes. 

Her poetry pieces have appeared in the Brief Wilderness, the Ekphrastic Review, and the Classical Poets Society. Her nonfiction has been published by the AROHO Foundation and the Braided Way Magazine.