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Book Review: The Steps of My Life

by Lynn Russo


A Soul-full poetic journey through the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Poet, Lynn Russo, through her own struggle with alcohol, having hit rock bottom and entering into recovery invites the reader into a lifelong dalliance with the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) through her poetry and writings. From the joy of mothering both her own and children not her own, to the heartbreak and devastation of divorce and addiction, Lynn Russo brings the reader through the seasons of life into recovery and the rekindling of her faith.


A Friend of Bill W.

Much like the tribal shamans who painted their faces as a sign of power and wisdom, life had painted crow's feet upon Kurt's otherwise unblemished face. There was an angular crookedness to his jaw, matched only by his owl-like beak. His pearled flesh had the spiritual aura of a glazed icon. It was an aura that traveled upward across the territory used in the placement of a hand for a blessing. A few wispy hairs marked this territory – once graced by a full compliment. Like arrows, the tiny crow's feet attracted attention to his rather deep-set, earth-tone eyes. Most times they seemed to radiate with inner peace and flowing serenity but, often, they overflowed into pools of sadness created by the curvature of mans' destruction of self. He would leave this world as he had entered it, toothless, but for now, loose fitting dentures grated across his gums. A hearing aid nestled in wiry tufts of gray-white fuzz.

His strength came not from a muscular physique. A birth deformity had turned his spine into a question mark. Slightly hunched and in the twilight of his years, he was also prone to attacks of emphysema. But, his nobility is statuesque and he stands as tall as Gulliver in the land of the Lilliputians. "What did she say?" His hearing impairment forces him to struggle desperately to catch the works of others. He turns his head, straining his neck. His hands are cupped behind his ears. His brow in furrowed ripples resembles a freshly plowed field waiting the planting of new crops. Yet, more often than not, silent syllables are all that fall within his grasp. He sighs, trying to force air into his damaged lungs. He speaks in short breaths but, words slide across his tongue like hot, melted butter.

His is the story of a dramatically, devastating childhood, the degradation of deformity and the downward spiral of self-worth. The consanguinity of this heritage left him with an affinity for consuming alcohol in excess. This seemed to be the only relief from his overwhelming pain of body, mind and soul. Hence, in his early twenties as he describes it, "I was a broken man." He speaks carefully and slowly in a Mark Twain rhetoric. "The pursuit of my illusions brought me to the gutter. The guilt. The shame ... I had become the man I most hated-my own father. I was so sick I knew nothing, but fear. I weighed less than one hundred pounds", he continued. "And I was powerless." Powerless! Those words echoed in my head. Had I not written a poem, "Powerless To Heal?" His power was his ability to meet a not-so-perfect stranger and make them feel like family. He was truly a friend in need ... in deed ... Indeed!


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