Pre-Alcoholic

I wish I could tell it better. As
this is a poem. Just
at my desk in rainy

January thinking about
the last night of last year,
when I did something that made me

examine my drinking. I know
I am supposed to talk about what.
So this must be frustrating, the

vagueness. It wasn’t a car crash,
necessarily. I didn’t kill
anyone but, perhaps, the old me,

now a zombie walking
out the dregs of the new
year and hovering

outside my door. He wants
to knock. My knowing his
wanting to knock is

his knocking. And if
I haven’t killed anyone
yet, maybe it should be him.

But I can’t bring myself
to do it. I stopped hard liquor.
And beer, for now. Forever,

maybe. Just saying it
is gunpowder on my tongue.
I can’t stop eating candy,

and I’m very thirsty. But
is selfishness refusing to call
Kaveh’s wolf a wolf? Like

pre-diabetic. What will
kill me is the refusal
to kill.

(originally published in Red Rover Magazine, Spring 2021)

Alcoholic Thoughts

It’s early and I
can’t fall back asleep– maybe, before work,
I can enjoy a beer or two.
                                          [I deliver food]

Cut to: work
It’s slow.
               Maybe I can sneak home
               and have a can in the car.

The depth of craving
                   I scoff and deny.

What keeps me going is each lap’s checkered flag–
if you can get to February, you can drink. [my partner]

Cut to: February [sober]
I don’t think we should drink.
We can wait another month.

It’s Saturday night and I have drymouth
and the house crawls with

bottles, chasers, faucets, an empty
champagne bottle on display on a table.

Such is a trophy. Gold-adorned
bubbly. I can tell you the kind
of night it was that drank it:

ordinary.

I was how I was.
Who can I become?

 

(originally published in TreeHouse: An Exhibition of the Arts, Summer 2019)

Transition

I walk this familiar street
of spring. Cherry blossoms,

sunshine, the desire
to drink. Yesterday

I snuck into a field
with a flask to avoid

the knife room I
tell myself to stay

out of. My longing a black
rolled-up rug. I tell myself

Stay wound, trying how
I can before I let again

the drunk in me to walk
through the door,

spill me out in scuff
marks and mudprints

just after the rain.

 

(originally published in Penmen Review, Summer 2019)

I Drank Yesterday; Your Socks Had Cats on Them

I drank yesterday; your socks had cats on them. I’m sorry. I wasn’t strong.
The white and pink and soft. Faces I see them everywhere and they meow

requiems of froth. Ciders on the couch our jeans touching. I get to the point
of confusion but don’t get the point of being confused. I am there. Brainfog

sober room drowning in doused apple and loud television football. Green
green fields. I lived alone in pastures for most of my sadness now it sinks

conjoined. Allow me the pleasure please allow me come home to the bog.

 

(originally published in Philosophical Idiot, Spring 2019)

 

Death, 2009 (College)

Flowers & God–
you tell me, slipshod,
there’s an afterlife
in the party we’re cheersing
to tonight our whole life
with small glasses of Granddad’s,
noisemakers, & drinking
games. I’d like to drown
the tissues
in something, listen to Gaelic
music like Dad used to
driving us from school with Pizza Hut
wafting from the trunk those
sunny afternoons. & now that you’ve
lost someone you’re willing to lose
your Bill Hicks-views-sense-
of-self-meaning like we all
funnel ethereal spirit into sky
& swig the rain with
drunken angels I know
you know you’re better than that.
I know you know once
the last attendee’s passed out
on the couch heavy breathing
lips purple you’d check
on him, too. You’d be alone
in the house you grew up in
with phone in your hand
calm and through the static of 911
racing to get the address out
the foaming of your mouth
and when a cop comes you
beg please don’t break this party up
and deny the red flashing lights
come

 

(originally published in 8 Poems, Summer 2018)

January 28

I really want to drink today.

The sun is shining. It’s warmer than usual.

I should try to ween myself off, right? None of this cold
turkey shit.

I haven’t drank a drink this year, the miracle
of it. Today, I am alone.

I scrubbed white the kitchen tiles, but there are
always dirt stains, smudges when you look
a little harder.

Sanitized the kitchen table with towels,
swept its crumbs from the floor.

The cat sprints from one end of the room
to the other over
and over, imaginary laps.

What every day is, these days,
running a relay race, handing
the baton to tomorrow’s me
with the trust I won’t– today,

it’s a sleep’s worth heavier than yesterday.

Long minutes the placemarks I pass

I can’t make time go faster. It is my day
off work, and in its nothingness I trudge
through sludge. Old habit,

you don’t die hard because
you’re not dying. You’re
as alive as me: refreshed yet craving,

gazing through the window to the light-
stained street, the shadows cast from trees
out toward the river.

 

(originally published in Stickman Review, Spring 2018)

I Had a Problem

I drove to Athens drinking Thursday
night a six-pack the darkness
of Wayne National Park guiding
me finally into another car I bumped
parking parallel then walked streets into
bars wandering until Pita Pit no one else
was watching youth pass by hummus
lettuce tomatoes olives a mess
at the table no one knew anything about

 

(originally published in Uppagus, Autumn 2018)

Sunday Funday

For the last hot day of April, we were the bristled paintbrush
stroke of an old fluttering-in-wind canvas
flag of a few years ago when all of us were inseparable,
every event a small celebration. We’re a little older,
a little more tired when each sip of boxed wine
means waking with a sharper razor in the sun.

 

 

(originally published in Central American Literary Review, Spring 2018)