IN LOVING MEMORY OF DEWAYNE HAL STRATTON
Jennifer Williams for being a brilliant muse; for having lived this life alongside me, and for having relived it all over again each time I finished a poem and Facetimed her to read it aloud. You are my best friend and always will be. Your unwavering support is unparalleled. I love you to the moon and back, my sunshine girl. You are my favorite person.
Daniel Jones for allowing me to stay in his home for the summer in order to clear my mind and write this. You are my oldest friend and have never let me down. Whether we were six and playing on the playground at Hodson Elementary School, thirteen and hiding in sewers, or twenty-one and meeting up in New York City, you have always remained a true homie. I love you and am eternally grateful for you. You can call me anytime, anywhere, and I will answer.
Soph Brown for being one of my first friends in Arkansas. You truly helped build the foundation for the life I would ultimately believe in and live. You taught me how to have friends again. Your constant reassurance and love has been one of the most spectacular and important things to happen in my life. You have never once made me feel crazy, irrational, or unlovable: there are not enough words in this world to thank you for that. You are my rock.
My family for being the ones to nurture me and love me as I move through the strange beauty that is my life. My mother for teaching me the power of unconditional love. My siblings for teaching me what strength looks like. My nieces and nephew for being my greatest inspirations.
This book is dedicated to all of the drug addicts in the world. Whether you are actively using, are in early recovering, have been sober for 15+ years, this is for you. Our collective struggle is one that I will never be able to ignore. It is the hardest thing I have ever been through. It takes true strength, courage, and spirit to move on from the world of drugs/dealing. Wherever you are at now, know that coming back to the light of reality is possible. You have it in you. You are so unbelievably worthy of love, even in the moments you may not believe it.
This collection may be incredibly triggering, I am warning you now, but I hope by the end of it you find a bit of peace. At the very least, I hope you know that you are seen and heard: that your story matters. Your life is worth living, I wish you the best on your journey of rediscovering that. Please, find your light, find what makes you feel alive, and then fight for it every single day. It will be worthwhile, I know that to be true.