A Poem by Derek Thiem

About the cognitive dissonance experienced when you have substance abuse disorder, or addiction




I am a note that does not fit the scale.

I am a key that fits the lock but will not turn.

I am the sound that’s out of harmony,


Off key, out of tune,


180 degrees out of phase with the phases of the moon,


Trying to move in tune with the lunar cycle

My being’s hyper and I vibrate

At 800 cycles per second,

A half a step off,

A soul hiccup or cough,

That disrupts the cosmic

Vibrational flow of the universe.

Moving at the wrong frequency

I frequently collide with the stream of life

That is universal consciousness,

And the sound of that crash

Comes in pulsing rings

Of D I S S    O  N  A   N    C    E.

This overhanging tone of inharmoniousness

Lingers in the air between you and me

Like the space between notes

In a solo by Thelonious Monk,

Or the essence of original punk-

A challenge to that which is accepted

A change from all that’s recollected

2+2 no longer equals 4.

I hunt for food

Instead of buy it at the store.

A whole new way of seeing

A turn of the dial inside my being,

Access to a whole new dimension

An extension of emotion overriding thought,

A peace that can’t be store bought,

A relief from this new tension

Caused by the contradiction

Of a schism in my mind,

A condition of a brain divided against itself,

The stealth of a disease that pits me

Against my own health.

I’ve entered dimension 3 and a half

And though it’s not funny I have to laugh

At the irony of the problem lying inside of me,

That I can perceive a problem with

My own perception

A twisted reflection like a

Fun house mirror inside of me

I try to hold these two images at once-

Opposites existing at the same time

In the same place,


How do I find the space?

How do I choose a face?

What parts must I erase?

Will this dissonance by replaced?

© 2017 Derek Thiem

Author's Note

Derek Thiem
written while in rehab

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Added on May 25, 2017
Last Updated on May 25, 2017
Tags: Recovery poem, recovery poetry, addiction, rehabilitation