Heroin Sonnet

By Matthew Burns

“Mom accused of injecting daughter with heroin…”
—Reading (PA) Eagle

Dear child, little petal of my flower, I do not know
If life is anything more than this: a dream
Awake but not. Trust me. In the white cut of day, a seam
Cut through our lives—yours and mine—this can show
Every little flaw in what everyone calls living.
Tonight, when I hold your fist and place the needle to
Your arm left trembling under the touch of my fingers gone blue,
Left blunt and swollen with—trust me—the want of giving,

My love—only love, trust me—will unfurl like flowers and grace.
Or, if not grace, then something you have never touched:
Rest and peace and calm: white petals: the hushed
Pleasure of stupor, of daze. Trust me. This is the pure base
Hidden under everything you know. Somewhere interred beneath,
Inside your wild, flowering mind, I know this white truth hides
Nascent, like blossom and proliferation—roots of every lie,
Every dream: alive. A rest, some peace. Trust me. Trust me. Trust me.


Matthew Burns is an Assistant Professor in Liberal Studies at SUNY Cobleskill in upstate New York. His poem “Rhubarb” won a James Hearst Prize from North American Review. Other poems have received Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations and have appeared or are forthcoming in Graze, Quiddity, Memoir (and), Upstreet, Spoon River Poetry Review, Paterson Literary Review, Lime Hawk, The Lake, Raleigh Review, ellipsis…, and others.