Opioid Epidemic Inspires Art

Download Audio
(Erich Ferdinand/Flickr Creative Commons)
(Erich Ferdinand/Flickr Creative Commons)

The growing opiate epidemic in Massachusetts is taking place in urban areas like Quincy, and rural places like Conway. Stories of who is using, what they stand to lose, and sometimes what they leave behind are showing up not only in support groups or reporter pieces, but in the work of of artists and writers.

Poet Amy Dryansky lives in a beautiful hilly western Massachusetts farm town — not far from five well-known colleges and I-91, where drugs travel frequently between New York and Vermont.

She walks a lot, she drives a lot. She sees the same places over and over again — like this one house on a corner.


Amy Dryansky, poet. Her collection of poems “Grass Whistle,” won the 2014 Massachusetts Book Award in Poetry.

Fixed, Blue, Gone

When the house began to empty
it was almost spring.

Beneath the leafless oak, blue
lilies pushed through

patches of snow, surrounded
an empty pizza box

guarding the lawn
like a tied-out, barking dog.

For a while, she was fixing
up the place: little statues, a blue

wading pool for the kids.
There was a car, she got them to school

pretty much on time.
Then that was gone, too,

and some nights red, white and blue
cruiser lights washed up against the house.

You knew they were fighting.
You could hear it, you could

practically see through gaps in the siding
they never managed to fix, imagine

in winter, heat from the fire
rushing back out, somebody’s fingers

possibly blue with cold.
March, no smoke in the chimney,

just an empty, pounded down spot
and frayed blue tarp

where cordwood used to be.
Then she was in jail, and all around

the house tall grass, blown
lilacs, wild rose swallowing

junked lawnmowers and tractors
he used to fix for a little cash,

along with the weed he sold
he said, to keep himself in smoke.

April, I gave him and the oldest boy
a ride, both of them junkie twitching,

sweating in the back seat—
his boy and my girl the same age—

and I made small talk.
High summer and the house gone

dark, cardboard for windows,
wheelbarrow heaped with dirt, shovel

set against it, like someone thought
they were coming right back.

-- Amy Dryansky

This segment aired on August 20, 2015.


More from Radio Boston

Listen Live