“I Can’t Help You” by Millicent Accardi

I Can't Help You
Image first published in Rolling Stone, appears here courtesy of Victor Juhasz

I can’t help you kick
The drug you call pancakes,
Or the replacement
You call syrup.
Your life has been
One long sweet taste
Of drama. You came nearly
Close to finishing
In many ways:
The swig of strong
Medicine. The twists
And burns
Of what and why
You thought
You were and are.
I remember
The night you screamed
At Dad saying
You were dancing
On his grave and to mom
You wished her
Back on the floor
Near the empty
Aspirin bottle the day
Other sister found her.
As a family, we have
Been through the recommended
Books, the last minute doctors
You gave up on moments
Before the truth was revealed.
We have been close
To finding the border,
Crossing over into sanity.
We have sucked it up
And loved you while
The trail of white water
You left behind churned
Up in our wake. At once
We were glad angels
Loaning you money.
At next, we were worse
Than the yellow devils
Of your irises, reflected
Upon us as you stared
Us down into oblivion
When we asked about
The missing tablets.
This is what it is like to live
Inside a struggle,
Just a kiss beyond
A fairy tale destination.
For which there is no middle
Ground, no training wheels,
No prince, no magic potion,
No deep red apple, no sugar
Plum house, no clever mice,
No breadcrumbs, no red hood,
No glass slippers, no pumpkin,
No wild wishing brook,
No monster or glass coffin
In your woods.
There is no gate to hold onto
As you swing back and forth.



Millicent Accardi is the author of two poetry books: Injuring Eternity and Woman on a Shaky Bridge. She received fellowships from the NEA, California Arts Council, Barbara Demming Foundation and Canto Mundo. A second full-length poetry collection Only More So is forthcoming from Salmon Press, Ireland in 2012.

Read an interview with Millicent Accardi here.