jason o’toole, ariana

People spending real money
on food heated up by strangers,
not real chefs.
Most don’t recognize, real business
here: drugs.

Around tables faces
so young, won’t know
what they’ve missed;
what they will always miss.

The cook passes glassine bag
of what’s at least part cocaine,
to that actor from the television
event of a lifetime!

The dishwasher passes green balloon,
of what is mostly heroin,
to diner owner’s daughter.
She will be found dead tomorrow.

Tonight, she serves her friends
(and I am one)
complimentary deserts;
Stubs out cigarette,
smudged exclamation point
to what shall be her death sentence:
“Clean one week,
I’ve got this!”

She will not finish this pack,
from which I bum a smoke.
Wish I made all this up.
Have I escaped,


  1. Hello Jason, I liked Ariana; it seems we’ve traveled down some similar highways. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to drop you a line. It just goes to show how much I check my responses to my work; I never really could give a shit about that–except to say that it’s nice to know that somebody has picked up on it and it moved them enough to write good or bad things about it. If it moves the needle it’s OK with me.
    Yes, all those who have been “clean one week,” and believes they “have this.” I’ve said that line myself many, many times. Nice piece, Jason.

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