They gather 'round to talk and laugh -
haven't seen each other in how long now?
Thirty years? Forty? They fall back into it
like it was yesterday, and for her, it could be.

They tell tall tales of both their own exploits and
the ones who are no longer alive.
There are too many of those.
Most left young. Voices get soft, then silent.

I overhear it all now as I did back then.
I didn't do the things they did, but a child of
the seventies was hard pressed to find
friends without having druggies amongst them.

So I relive the tales with them, though I have none to tell
of my own - unless you want to count the time I sat
with her in a police station, wiping blood off
her face with a scratchy brown paper towel
I'd wet down in a public bathroom.

Or the time I got into an argument with her
for shooting heroin while pregnant.
He was born emergency c-section
vomiting inside her womb.

Or the time I searched until I found her
crawling on her knees through an open field,
pretty dress riddled, pantyhose shredded, palms full of goatheads,
raccoon eyes filed with fear of the non-existent
meth monster police pursuing her, hell bent on
tormenting her, killing her, or Godonlyknewwhat. 

I spent many nights unable to find peaceful 
sleep, hearing him fidget in the squeaky recliner
with the curtains cracked, obsessively dialing
the number he had that confirmed whether or not
the Feds had tapped your phone.

The night he beat on the door and yelled "Police! Open up!"
The shotgun blast came through the door, made him fly off the porch
dead as his killer would be in another month or two.
I cannot count how many prisons I've written and visited,
how many funerals I've attended -

Yes, those were the good old days.