Über Coca

May 16, 2016

He didn’t notice snow falling in the Krankenhaus courtyard the night he fell in love. A mere intern, castrated by Jew-hating med school professors...

 

I take very small doses of it regularly against depression and against indigestion and with the most brilliant of success.

-Freud in a letter to his fiancé, Martha Bernays, 1884

 

I need a lot of cocaine.

-Freud in a letter to his colleague, Wilhelm Fliess, 1895

 

He didn’t notice snow falling in the Krankenhaus

courtyard the night he fell in love. A mere intern,

castrated by Jew-hating med school professors,

yearning for Martha in his cell-like room with no one

except himself to pleasure, the pfennig-pinching Dr Freud

ordered his first dose for 30 gulden direct from Merck.

Oh, it was love at first taste, the pure white powder

downed with water, sex aroused, a partner who powered

him hard until 4 AM. He bragged to his fiancé

that coca swelled him into a stud, sent her vials,

shilled for Parke-Davis, hooked his best friend.

Before Charcot’s parties, he spooned a dose to untie

his tongue, kept using to treat the crash, to beat off

fatigue so fierce he swore he had cancer, used

through angina, kept snorting when nodules

mushroomed his septum and blocked his breathing.

In this blizzard of denial and addiction he shtupped

his wife’s sister Minna until he found his soul

mate, the deluded Dr Fliess, who believed in

a direct genital-nose connection. Coking up high

strung Irma, they severed a slab of her turbinates,

spilling her blood in a near-death hemorrhage.

Haunted by nightmares of his folly, he revised her

history in the dream interpretation that made his name.

Years later, the master declared all drugs replace

the “primary addiction” of masturbation, but never

revealed how, twelve years deep into coca,

he suddenly laid down his silver spoon

and summoned the strength to kick.

Disclosures:

Dr Berlin is Senior Affiliate in Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. E-mail: Richard.Berlin@gmail.com. His most recent collection of poetry, PRACTICE, is published by Brick Road Poetry Press.