Issue 0 Issue 0 Poetry

Heroin Haibun

By Graham Irvin

An old friend of mine sold pills and snorted heroin and worked third shift at a warehouse in Salisbury. He was an okay guy. He was always around to party. And he was pretty good at skateboarding too. 

When we first met he’d just started dating this girl and was in love with her. When she was in the same room as him she sat in his lap. When she was gone he talked about her constantly. He wanted to do everything with her. He wanted to experience the outer limits of pleasure. He told me, “She put her pinky in my butt man. She was just down there playing around and it happened. And I liked it.” It surprised me. I’ll be honest. Everything else about him made me believe he wouldn’t want a pinky anywhere near his butt. He seemed like a guy who would hate the idea of a pinky in his butt. Plus he ended by saying, “I’m not gay or nothing though,” which made it all the more surprising that he told me at all. But I was happy. He was experiencing new things in life. Romantically. It seemed structurally important to him at the time. It helped him grow. 

His girlfriend cheated on him not long after that. Maybe with his roommate. I don’t remember. Once his roommate told me, before my friend found out his girl cheated on him, “Dude she was flirting with me hard when we were alone the other day. She was touching my chest and playing with my hair. It was wild.” That roommate lied a lot though. It’s hard to know what’s true. Part of me thinks the roommate just wanted people to think he could take my friend’s girl if he really tried. It was important people knew she chose the other guy only because he wasn’t interested. 

She did cheat on my friend though. I know for sure that happened because the next week he threw a big party and got super fucked up. He took his pills and snorted his heroin and took off his shift at the warehouse in Salisbury and funneled beer after beer after beer. 

That’s another thing that surprised me about my friend. He only drank beer with a beer funnel. He hated the taste of beer so bad he wanted to get it over with as soon as possible. Everything about a guy who sells pills and snorts heroin would make me believe he enjoyed the taste of beer. Or at least tolerated the taste of beer. I guess what I mean is he wasn’t picky about taking pills or snorting heroin so why would he need a special tool to make sure he didn’t throw up his beer? 

At the party after he got super fucked up he disappeared to his room and came back with a gun. A Glock 43 9mm. He started waving it around. Showing it to people. Putting it to his head. “Cheat on this,” he said a few times with the gun pointed at the door. As if she was on the way. He even called and put her on speakerphone. He pointed the gun at the phone. He told her to come over but someone yelled, “No.” 

Everyone had had enough. His roommate took the phone and ended the call. He took my friend aside and said, “She’s not worth it, dude. Don’t let her get to you like this. Just take the gun back to your room and go to sleep.” So my friend went back to his room and put the Glock 43 9mm under his pillow. And then he took another pill. Then he snorted some more heroin. And funneled a beer. The party continued. 

I couldn’t say where that guy is now. That wasn’t the last time I saw him. A few months later we did coke together and he kickflipped a 5 stair at the high school near his house. I still have the video on my phone. But it’s been at least 6 years since I’ve seen him. I always liked his roommate more. 

My friend with the Glock 43 9mm who sold pills and snorted heroin also had a twin brother. His brother always joked about being the more attractive twin, which pissed my friend off, but I couldn’t really tell the difference. That was probably the joke. The brother was somewhat better with women than my friend. He was a father and, though they’d divorced a year after getting married, the mother of his child was both attractive and interesting and faithful before their split. 

My friend’s brother didn’t sell pills or own a gun because, during the time I knew him, he was trying to be a good father. The mother of his kid had full custody because even though he didn’t sell pills or own a gun he did occasionally use heroin. And he shot up too. Which, though it might not seem like it, is a lot more serious in the heroin user community. Shooting heroin is serious shit. And the last time he shot up he passed out while in his car. Which rolled into another car. And the other car was a cop. My friend’s brother went to jail for a bit and decided he’d just snort heroin but in the eyes of the court that didn’t make him a better father. 

He was at the party too. The one his brother threw to get over his girlfriend. He drank some beers, normally, and took some pills and snorted some heroin but when the Glock 43 9mm came out he said something like, “hey man you know I’m on parole.” 

Last I heard his ex-wife was remarried and had another baby. His daughter would be about 10 and, whether he was still fighting for it, he did not have shared custody of her. 

But, like I said before, nothing bad happened with the gun. I’m sure if I saw him again, if he remembered me, if he’s even still alive, we could recall happily that night. The night the gun came out. Because hey, at least no one got shot. That’s got to be worth something. 


try this next time

you’re at a bar

tell a joke

to the person 

closest to you 

and if they don’t laugh 

tell them 

“I have a gun”

if the person 

at the bar 

still doesn’t laugh

tell them 

“I’m on heroin” 

if the person 

at the bar 

still isn’t laughing 

lean real close 

and say 

“my gf put her pinky

“in my butt” 


Graham Irvin lives in Philadelphia. Some of his writing has been in Joyland, The Nervous Breakdown, and Misery Tourism. His book Liver Mush was published by Back Patio Press.