Painting Hearts Instead of Scoring Coke


My blood is hot scotch desirous, animalistic unpredictability coursing and I can feel my pupils pounding, black holes swallowing the whites of my eyes. I’m right between euphoria and murder, the golden moment right before you rise into heaven or fall into hell.

I want need some cocaine. 

It’s always the same thing, the sweet burn of the luminous golden scotch mingling with my tongue, tickling the very depths of me with every swallow, the tinkling crystal tumbler raised and tilted at a glib angle as the scotch ripples through me like a stone thrown into a pond. I’m one smiling, laughing witticism after another two or three doubles deep. This is civilized, radiance pushing the dread from my center, a glowing amber ocean in a glass literally scorching the earth of my anxiety, every gulp like a whispering friend encouraging me to live, to be alive, giving me life, new life and new needs, new ways to fulfill those new needs for my new life writing these words, hell, I need a drink. 

I love that phrase, it’s the only honest protest we have left, “I need a drink,” implies isolation and frustration and a reprieve from it all into sexy danger and abundant power, the righteous murder of the maiming our minds do unto us, something everyone can understand. S/he needs a drink. X happened and now Y is Z. S/he deserves a drink.

Tara’s driving my car flying above the purring German engine, the power of it intoxicating, her eyes burning embers ready to catch flame and I see myself inside her eyes, little ellipses containing my deepest reflections. She says we’re siblings. I see it.  

I have her take me south to the lake near the place I got evicted from and I just missed my girl. I walk across the street to this shitty bar PIZZA, the other letters sizzling and popping on and off until the shuddering, crackling A finally explodes popping into the darkness shooting slivers of sparkles that shower down from it like a sparkler, leaving a single blinking Z. Everyone briefly looks outside at the little explosion and I look through the faces for someone familiar. Nothing. I light a Parliament with my head buried in my phone texting the people you text on nights like these nights. I look around like I’m lost, that’s how I feel, and my eyes lay upon a kid with a mad shine in his eyes sitting on a stump of green gun metal, the Seattle Weekly box, his legs dangling over the side. He starts talking to me in rapid fire and I notice his face has meth all over it, and he’s speeding through something about how it’s his first night in Seattle, “My fuckin’ girl got pregnant, maaan, so I hopped on this greyhound with no ticket dude and without saying shit and just got the fuck outta there but she has this uncle and—” Lovely. I think he thought we were friends because we both witnessed the A explode. I nod and return to Tara, letting him tell his stories to the wind. She’s sitting parked in my car waiting me out and anyone else would have infuriated me just for existing; I’m flustered and frustrated and hating drugs, hating the lack of drugs, hating that I hate the lack of drugs but Tara is like valium with a heartbeat and no matter what and no matter how badly I want coke I want Tara to be okay more. This is the first friendship I’ve ever had, I think. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a friend my whole life.

My wise voice, as Tara might say, is murmuring maybe screaming something about how this is actually serendipity, not loss and that’s true, cocaine turns me inside out into a hungry carnivorous violence I never even let myself believe could exist in me and without fail I end up at some ugly hour of the morning in my shower sobbing, blowing burning chunks of ammonia and ephedrine out of my scorched face hating everything most especially myself trying to wash the fury and hopelessness off of me, shoveling sedatives and beta blockers down my throat knowing they won’t fucking work because nothing fucking works because I’m on coke and coke doesn’t work.

Now we’re in the middle of Capitol Hill, 12th and Pike, one block from the succubus-girl and the condo we lived in where she almost murdered me and everyone is screaming and everything is drugs and pounding bass and kids in middle school and college running around like insane insects in a hive; the people are all game tonight the air electrified with cheap cologne and perfume, hormones and pheromones and the shit-coke I know is down in the grottos along the avenue waiting for me like that evil girl used to, sitting so gently on her bed looking bashful even timid when I would finally crawl back right until she leaped off my cock into the bathroom to vomit and scream, yes, the things I came here for are here. I watch some kid piss on a garbage can. I watch another kid piss on a street corner. This is a carnival of piss, colorfully terrifying, everything pressing into me from all sides like walls of skin crushing me from all directions and this place is a shining blood-red apple staring at me daring my teeth to sink into it like a vampire staring into a throbbing jugular, sticky blood and apple juice flowing down from my jaws onto my chin dribbling down impossible to stop until my hands are sticky and my fingers snap when I pull my hands apart from themselves because I am going to eat this city.

My face is a razor blade on a cokeless mirror, chopping at the clear glass, cutting at the sides— “Alex, you want to see the one that really fucked me up?” I’m in the car sweating venom and Tara will show more of her demons to me, she knows this shit so well. “This is Angela.” She shows me a video of Angela on my phone reading poetry written for Tara. I see a face made of old bone holding two small smoldering eye sockets and as Tara tells me about the Christmas they spent together where Angela pulled a knife on her in a fit of paranoid rage after smashing her boot through Tara’s fragile gifts I start to forget the coke. I don’t forget the coke. The craving becomes polluted with the better nature of my soul as I see Tara clutching at her face in pain as she watches this video and I see why Tara would love this girl made from bone metal— her face is devoid of love and Tara likes to let her heart get strangled. “I know!” I scream. We’ve watched two videos of this horrendous skeletal woman on a stage reading poetry about Tara and I’ve just come up with the best fucking idea.

“Let’s paint!” 

Now, some would say that doing graffiti in the middle of crowded streets full of people and cops is not the smartest thing, especially after having already pressed my luck and beaten a big graffiti charge a few years back. 

I disagree with those people. 

My trunk is stocked. For a moment I freak out, did all the caps go into the duffel bag that’s at the house? Nope, a big lime-green cap sits on top of a red can like a cherry on a sundae. I light it up and sure enough the cap is good (caps often jam with congealed paint and become unusable) tonight we’re having good fortune. Incidentally, we’re parked right in front of the place where I did one of my first pieces, a little monster guy that was up for some five years and has now disappeared. It’s this big sunken parking lot with this huge, huge wall covered entirely with graffiti and I am taking Tara for a ride. We stroll away, a red can and a black can clinking in her blue purse. We casually walk down some steps to a gangplank that leads down further to the lot and I survey it for cops and other undesirables. Nobody except a couple in the middle of either a break up or a make up, I can’t decide. We get down to the bottom and I look at the wall where my beautiful piece used to be. It’s covered in all new graffiti, much of it very, very good. This may sound fucked up, but I love to tag over good blaster-pieces. My rationale is two-fold: 1. Graffiti is all about fucking up other people’s walls and nobody owns shit no matter how pretty or how long they spent on it and 2. Painting over good art will force more good art onto the streets. 

I’m pretty certain there are a few people who disagree, would put a baseball bat to my head if they saw what I did. I don’t care. I ask Tara for the red can with the cap and she hands it to me and I see her in my periphery with her head on a swivel looking for oncoming cops as I just mangle these walls, red hearts everywhere in about two minutes the entire parking lot looks like Valentines day. We walk up the slanted drive past the couple who look and smile. Making up. Good. When we reach the street I notice that my trigger fingers are covered in red paint. Fuck. Oncoming sirens.


I start down the avenue the way it would make sense to go but quickly reverse course, Tara trailing a few yards and we go right back through the lot I just smothered with hearts because everything graffiti is counterintuitive, including getting busted— the cops rarely think to look at the spot that just got hit, why would the idiot taggers still be there, right? Right. We’re back on safety in my car. “Painting hearts with the cops after you is better than smack,” I tell her, my eyes virtually rolling back in my head. Both of us are huffing and puffing and grinning like idiots as we drive the fuck out of there. The craving for coke has not left me but the need for it has. Tara drives me back to her place and I bid her farewell before I drive myself home, by now sobered up from the scotch, where I sleep a most restful sleep, the clinking and spraying of paint cans and the tinkling of crystal tumblers an amalgamate of hissing and chiming softly in time like a strange lullaby keeping time with my cooling blood and my slowing heart all the way deep into my dreams.

The Origin of Loneliness

The Origin of Loneliness






The pendulum of the sun stolen from the ground to vanish back into the dirt of the earth
that’s where our aloneness begins, our terror of having and not having ourselves
the sun’s abandonment of us
every day of our lives
evasively slips away
like it wasn’t ever
there at all

The moon rises to fill the gaping abyss that is the sky when the sun no longer burns
the desiccated, glowing moon, injured and broken, showing us our fragile reflection
dark holes that lie beneath the moonshine, a pockmarked face, a pained face
a face we know when we examine ourselves because it is like our pained face
the sun’s violent, hysterical burning, us desperate for its wonderful agony
leaving us melanoma to take from us our skins and lives but leaving warmth
the moon is harmless and beautiful
alone and ugly, like us
but without the light
given by sun’s burn
we die, because
we cannot
see each

sommelier of sorrow and bad dreams


alexander michael ziperovich

dedicated to Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rest In Peace

icarus flew too close to the son again
and illumination shamelessly burned him like syphilis

with a kiss
from the heavens’ misted baptismal eclipse

the dramatist, the tragedian, the blind and bound prophet
recording reorderings, hapless with a snake for a toothbrush
or a tongue
idiot sun

and as he grasped at the falling, fallen icarus,
he could not discern between the stars & the dust
that rose from the terra from which icarus was thrust
and he still grasping up, clutching grass blades
thinking “breaking harps may stop breaking hearts”

exhume a plague from a mind-field of sharp, rolling rocks
have a new burial inside his own personal graveyard
rearranging the remaining ghosts all laying charred
on the floor of the house he built from scars
with a tiny window from where he could not
see the stars

beloved rain please wash me
no one is watching

in the mud, sobbing with grief, relentlessly not free
caught in a forest of poppies smiling at me
as i try not to be

but i am
harbinger of pain as i try to heal i am mauled
by flippant, sick little
and and and my brain boils
my blood tinted with lives as it tries to dry on the soil

i must make the devil recoil
i must make god feel like black gasoline
i myself feel everything
drowning in a pool of bloody, shattered wedding rings

and my love escapes me

That One Needs To Be Touched

by Alexander Ziperovich

Sophia’s mom showed me a poem I wrote for her on Christmas, as it were,
I had written it during our initial discovery of what was to be, and what is,
the atingle of our singing, dancing, living, breathing love,
a love so perfect it became sillily inaccurate, even inappropriate,
to use the word perfect to describe it and so I was led to
thesaurus’s, encyclopedia’s, Dostoevsky, anywhere for terms that might,
with some measure of clarity, resemble the boundless love we knew;
I came upon words like splendiferous and fleckless,
and still these did not come near to capturing the
essence, the soul, the infinite genius of our love,
nevertheless the first line of the poem read:

“I would push mountains up mountains for you,”

That was around the time I got a heart inscribed with “Yes, love a slaughter,”
tattooed on my chest above my heart which she quickly pointed out
could also be seen as “Yes, love as laughter,”
an observation reflecting her endless beauty..

She got the tattoo on her thigh
of an excerpt of another poem
I had written for her:

“And now I’m bare,
All the wounds that
I am something,
something must
keep you near,
perhaps a sound
only the both of
us can hear,
the symphony
between our eyes
that became our
where there was
once just air…”

I haven’t written in awhile, certainly nothing of love, even though it is always there,
like the sun and the moon and the clouds and the stars,
like air and fire and wind and water,
love like a windy fire,
smashing through buildings.
I have not written of love in some time.

Yes, a fire or a wind or a windy fire,
yet she’d prefer our love to be a vegetable,
or a family of pigs living out their lives peacefully,
sheltered from the horrors of the abattoir’s of the world;
I think it’s adorable how she loves pigs because as she put it,
“They’re in their little families, they’re cute, nice and they love each other!”
She love mothers, “Write about mothers! They’re an incredible force of nature.”
Somewhere in there she used the word Gaia,
but knowing Sophia,
into the sky like a bird and
became a cloud shaped like a heart that rained on people to satiate their deepest thirsts.


by Alexander Ziperovich


You will become whatever it is you most want not to become and you will never become whatever it is you most want to become,


And they will rip into your soul until your soul lays in tatters until you have no soul left and they will keep tearing at the emptiness where your soul once was, screaming with laughter,


They will drown you until you become accustomed to not breathing and then they will raise you above the surface of the water like they are baptizing you in flames and they will let you breathe fire,


They will come into your heart and establish themselves, they will diarrhea and vomit on the most precious parts of you, they will howl with laughter as you cringe and lose yourself in the pain,


They will place you in a hall of mirrors until you go insane confronting yourself, then they will remove you from your own true reflection so that all you see is the person you might have been and this will be far worse and the mirrors will shatter and you will bleed upon your own hideous reflection,


They will give you an endless amount of happinesses, you will ruin it all for everyone and yourself and you will learn nothing except that you are a ruinous, decrepit creature,


You will gain not a thing.


You will gain nothing except excruciating pain and even the pain won’t be worthy, the pain will be false and contrived, the kind of pain that people will scream at you for having, the kind of pain that you are not allowed to have, that you are not supposed to have and you will be ridiculed for having it,


And they will laugh,

And you will gain nothing.


You will find it impossible to move, you will wither but you will not die, you shall become a statue, a cold stone shaped into the shell of your lost soul, you will try to move an inch and for every attempt you will be scorned and hated and looked upon with the utmost disgust until you stop trying to move at all and you will be laughed at even for that,


You will break your back breaking everyone else’s back, and nothing will be good, the pain will never stop, god will never come, only the devil, only more agony, only more confusion, only more of the same, you will become used to it all, you will wish to die but you will be unable because you will find yourself a coward,


And then you will at some point die but before you die your father will tell you in no uncertain terms that he will hold no funeral for you and that to celebrate your life would be blasphemous and you will breathe your last breath with his words like knives in your head and you will be eternally alone and damned,


And to fight will be futile,

And you will gain nothing at all, nothing.


Nothing at all.

The Heart of an Angel Coming Apart

Alexander Ziperovich


Apart from your heart it is cold and wind blows,

hard, bitter winds that will blow snow inside of your soul


Cascades of red freezing arterial blood flowing out of you,

masquerades, people smiling, trying to convince you they aren’t scowling at you


Lies aplenty, Christ must have fucking hated Christmas, 

let the wood burn in the happy homes of all these fake Christians


We sit insufferable, suffering in our stupor of pain,

there is no pain like being alone, there is no agony like watching others carry on happily,

as you sit and think how you are probably not even worth the word ‘tragedy’


But you must burn fire, burn the house down, burn until nothing is left,

burn the frown down off of your face until you are left with scar tissue,

life cannot be explained by me in six stanzas, but if pain is the issue,

I can relate with plenty of tears and a lack of soft tissues,

and before I wrote poetry for others in pain, 

I dealt with the hard nights 

with heroin and cocaine,

so try to float above

all that is



Alexander Ziperovich

The bubbles rise up to greet you at the surface when you drink,

meeting your lips like flowers meeting your nose,

and the smell is mellifluous, the sweet nectar melting into you like spring snow.


Breaking your teeth on rocks.


Falling constantly like reckless Tetris blocks into messy spots,

walking home from Harborview alone in my socks,

and they still flushed everything in the box -

and even though the box had just killed me I wanted to climb back inside to feel free,



Breaking all of your teeth on rocks.


I didn’t believe the ER doctor about the CPR this time,

last time they left my chest and ribs bruised,

I believe in pain – everything else is a ruse.


No regards for petals of pretty roses ripped by knives to nothing,

no hiding from cities hopeless, defined by the dying,

no smiling, no smiling, no smiling, no smiling.


Days later I’m pulling EKG leads off of my torso, attaching them to paintings,

having conversations that sound like prerecorded daydreams,

and my brain swells and sings and screams,

and my heart continues to beat.



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