Thursday, August 7, 2014
The Drunk ((Poems, poisoned by Booze) (18-Poems))
((Poems, poisoned by Booze) (18-Poems))
1) Day of my Death
(…or, the Drunk’s Death)
There was no escaping, all paths led to him, Mr. Barleycorn!
I could smell him, taste him, I even greeted him, the second day
I met him. The shape like beer bottles, like a woman’s body they felt!
The first day I had a drink it was the day of my death.
Yes, I was a drunk, the day I took my first drink. Before that, I could
Get along without beer.
After my first drink, when it got close to me was like harp-tone vibrations, they rippled up and down my spine, from my brain to my throat.
That’s how it was in the beginning! But seldom thereafter, it was
The craving that took over, I had lost the harp.
No: 4526 (8-6-2014)
2) Drunken Years of Deviltry
((1960-1968) (The Cayuga Street Gang))
Those years of mad drunken deviltry—
To drive under the influence,
To steer and miss destruction by an inch!
To do what others would not dare:
This life made possible by barleycorn nippers
The only way for me to mediate!
It was the way of men who lived the life I did.
So I believe from my old neighborhood, called
Donkeyland by the police, in St. Paul, Minnesota!
No: 4512 (8-6-2014)
3) Drunk in Sydney (1964-1984)
(Sidney, Australia, 1971)
I was always broke back then (1964 to1984)
Although I had the wildest, maddest of times.
In the mornings tumbled out in the chill gray
I was a pitiful mess of splinters, often!
Burnt hand and jacket once in Sidney—
(While on R & R, from the Vietnam War, ’71)
It must have been from the hot register,
I laid my forearmed against all night’s drunk!
Burnt black—didn’t feel a thing, too drunk!
I evidently had sailed away into my
Unconsciousness, far-dead, in some dreamy:
No: 4513 (8-6-2014)
4) The, Drunk, Drinking for Comradeship!
Why did I feel I had to live this life, —live it
The way they did—?
It was by virtue of drinking that I gained all
My friends, comradeship, even deals.
Had I declined to drink at all, I should never
Have been selected on the social side of the
Scale: work, life in general, the Army,
Neighborhood! Even while I was in juvenile
Detention, for that very reason! We all
Bragged and boasted of it: to live and love
And be loved, is this not it? Perhaps it has
Something to do with it; yet in life I’d see so
Many fall into the ditch, never putting it
Quite together for myself, just knowing I’d die
In my twenties, over it, over trying to maintain
This kind of comradeship! Yes I beat the odds,
Now sixty-six, and that’s another story altogether!...
No: 4514 (8-6-2014)
5) Mad and Helplessly Drunk (1981-84)
Yes a misconception, but I nevertheless
Abandoned myself to the life of mad drunks!
Driving myself through the progressive stages,
With an iron constitution!
The taste wasn’t great, and I told myself, why
Drink unless you get drunk, waste time and
Money, and so I smoked three packs a day
Every day that’s part of drinking… disregard for
Money and food. Didn’t even buy myself clothes,
Just more and more and more beer and booze.
All I possessed I could put into one small chest
That’s all I owned: a pair of shoes, boots, five dollar
Overalls, a few cotton shirts, a few pairs of
Underclothes, and at the end, a room my mother
Provided, whom also bought me some socks,
Those also I didn’t own, without holes in the toes!
God forgive me for such a life I lived!
And now and then, my brother would pick me up,
With his semi-truck to work a day or two,
And after work back to the half dozen saloons.
Never made it the clothes stores.
No: 4515 (8-6-2014)
6) The Army Doyen Drunk (1969-1980)
And I had no regrets. Actually I was kind of proud!
In the Army I had shown the best of men, I could
Drink with them, out drink many of them.
Thus, I had proven myself strong—yes, I held the
Title of a leading figure, amongst strongmen.
Possible some of my childhood meagerness was
Involved, possibly I felt it was better to be a doyen
Drunk, and a half-drunk fighter, than a chip off the
Old block, bored working behind some ten-cent
Counter in some dime and nickel store, or in
Some machine shop, the Army allowed me to pursue
This heavy drinking far more than the average
Employer would do, and around the world I went, from:
Vietnam, to Guam, and Japan, and off to Sidney,
And Germany, and Switzerland. And then, to Belgium,
Luxembourg, Italy, and France…
I crossed each boarder drunker than a skunk.
No: 4516 (8-6-2014)
7) San Francisco Drunk (1968-69)
In San Francisco I got broke
Had to eat at the Mission House!
I drank more, and learned more
About drinking, more than the
Neighborhood I had lived in, that
Was my catalyst? Now drink for
Drink, I could out drink the average
Drunk, and show the strength of my
Manhood. Even got drunk in a bar
The day man landed on the moon;
All at twenty and twenty-one. The
City was an exploit, and I never drew
A sober breath! And my drinking
Stage had not even reached its top
Of the Tower of Babel;
Thus after a year it was time for me
To move on, to Mexico and
And North Dakota, with a bottle of
No: 4518 (8-6-2014)
8) Drunk at the Chalet (1984 to 2014)
Drunk or sober, in the back of my mind,
In my mind’s eye, there was a whisper:
Always calling! And one day it was loud!
As I walked out of the Chalet Bar, off
Rice Street in Roseville, Minnesota.
It said this: “Is this all your life is for?
Is not drinking every day, monotonous?
Tomorrow you’ll go through the same
Basic motions, again, and then again
Ebbing towards the bottle until there’s
No end”; I was not startled by this. It
Actually soothed me like cool linen.
But yes I was going out with the tide!
But one day, again walking out of the
Chalet—perhaps a few months later,
I said to the whisper:
“Take my life, it’s not worth living like this,
Or sober me up, I can’t do it by myself!
And I don’t know how to do it with anyone
Else”— and by George, someone, somewhere
Gave me a book to read, and I like books
And I learned that to get someone to stop
Drinking, you must give that someone
Something better than what he has—why
Would he stop drinking otherwise?
That made sense to me!...
And as I said, I liked reading: and yes,
God was clever: and I read the book:
Cover to cover; asked the Lord
To come into my life and take out the
Booze, once and for all— and he did:
And after that I quit smoking also.
Step by step he led me into a vortex—
Where the wharf-lights were no longer
Red, but green, bidding sentimental
Farewell to the old ways, of intoxication
To Old Nick and his Barleycorn tricks!
And now I’ve been sober, thirty-years
And have written forty-seven books!
No: 4517 (8-6-2014)
9) The Drunken Troubadour
I never knew a girls love, believe it or not!
I was too drunk to recognize, what love was!
Not that I didn’t have my romances.
Nor had I ever known a woman’s love.
Nor did I really have my children’s love.
I could see the world back then, under the
Influence of beer and wine: even pin-point
It on a map, around this gorgeous globe, the:
Many ports and cities I roamed and got stoned
In: Seattle, Omaha, Milwaukee, and Chicago…
Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Augsburg, in France and
Switzerland! In Sydney, Australia too, to mention
A few. In Vietnam! Always with a guitar at hand,
I was the drunken troubadour, singing and writing
My poetry as I went along, waiting for a hero’s song
No: 4521 (8-6-2014)
10) A Drunk in Nuclear Surety
(1974-1976) 545 Ordinance Company
Dragging me to death, was Mr. Barleycorn,
Swinish in darkness, and drunkenness
Day to night: beautiful whores at sundown,
Ugly, when I woke up at sunset.
Degradation of the soul, that’s what it’s called!
I was a bum with a military uniform:
For eight years, I traveled the world: Corporal,
Buck Sergeant, Staff Sargent, drunk!
NCOIC, in charge of Nuclear Security…
No: 4525 (8-6-2014)
11) The Drunk Poet of Hennepin!
I walked the streets of 1st Ave, and Hennepin
Down in Minneapolis’ city proper!
Hence, over my glorious youth, I sweat
Out beer and wine, and whiskey, there,
In almost every bar, I swear: watched Prince
Sing at the First Avenue, drunker than a fool!
Not a weeping-drunk, I was never that,
Nor a Melancholic blotto, oh no, I was the
Silent one writing poetry in barrooms in
Minneapolis, lost in some outer space fog, or
Back in Vietnam. This was throughout the
Hearty eighties. Got some poems written
Up in the newspapers, in Minneapolis!
I was the hero’s drunk, of the streets:
Off First Avenue, and Hennepin, nightly.
No: 4520 (8-6-2014)
12) The Babenhausen,
West Germany Drunk (1977)
Many a nights as I walked home from the bar
In Babenhausen back in 1977, the year
Elvis, died… I could hear the guesthouses
Playing Neil Diamond’s song: ‘Cracklen’ Rosie’
Thus, I was a military drunk singing away, on
My way to the military installation, Housing area,
I lived in. A little over halfway, I’d lay down in
The Grass wasted, smashed in the grass!
I lay looking at the starlight, on my back!
Red and green and white lights flashing off
The road nearby. Sometimes I even swam a
Few strokes in the grass, as if it was water.
With drunken dreams, and after the chill of hours
I sobered up, very weary and very cold, but
Quite restrained, for the days military patrol.
When you’re young your body can somewhat
Resist the stress and the strain and the pull!
No: 4522 (8-6-2014)
13) The Sobering Up to Drink, the Drunk
When you’re sober for a while, and for a year
I was, in 1981, to ’82, to save a marriage,
But what a fool I was, you don’t stop for
Such reasons, you stop to save yourself, I went
Back to drinking when the marriage could not
In a like manner, I had a friend in Alabama, in
1978, who stopped to save a marriage too,
And raise his kids, after that was accomplished,
He went back to drinking, saying, “...and I missed it
Immensely, I just wanted for them to grow up fast
And get out of the house, so I could go back
To drinking!” That was all he was ever thinking!
He died nine months later: he had made up
In those few months, for what he didn’t drink in
No: 4524 (8-6-2014)
14) Dying for a Drink, the Drunk
When you’re sober awhile you don’t want to die.
Thus, I found many reasons for living, during
That one year of sobriety, 1981-‘82. But when my
Wife left me for sin, or whatever, I started drinking
Again. And thus, I felt this time, that I was more
Liable to drown away. She said to me:
“You were no good a drunk, and now you go to
AA meetings every night, never home, like before,
Hell, you aint any better sober than when you were
A drunk!” I couldn’t win, so back to drinking I went;
I called it a slip, but it was more like a Relapse!
No: 4523 (8-6-2014)
15) A drunken Mess at Thirty-six!
I was doing okay until I was thirty-six—
When I lost my job, car, and was in a fix!
Had no place to go, to sleep, had previously
Slept in cars, attics, with friends, even
Rented out a garage to sleep in—
Where were my friends? Mr. Barleycorn,
Proven he was pounding me into a confirmed
Ditch. When I thought of sobering up, he
Never ceased to rebel, brain-effected…
Now physical loathing, too much inactivity:
Slowly sinking into the deep road, as if
Life was no more than a sand-hill. I was as
Brittle as a soda cracker. All at thirty-six.
I knew if I didn’t stop drinking, I’d never
Make it to forty…
No: 4527 (8-6-2014)
16) The Drunk and the Ape
The ape seeks the strongest branch.
The bird the highest and safest!
Man, he seeks the most certain location
To live, plan and be safe, usually under
The tree, or in the cave, wherever there’s
Water, food and safety! But the drunk is
Different, he’ll climb the tree like the
Monkey, no thought of where it might be
The weakest spot, or safest, he doesn’t
Have enough sense to get down from the
Tree—and seek safe company; even when
He falls, time and again, he’ll just get
Back up, and start all o'er!
No: 4528 (8-6-2014)
17) The Drunk, with Poison-soaked Brains
When I was young, in my twenties, I was
Healthy, normal, full of joy of life: to kill
Myself, it would have been strange,
And far from my mind, or brain! Yet I was
Killing my nerves and brain, all the same,
Not really realizing it, nor fearful of its poisoning:
And had you told me that, I would have said:
It’s all rot, gobbledygook inside your head!
You’re being too dramatic, romantic, too
Imaginative; —you see, drinking maddens,
Produces lunacy! But I’d find out the hard
Way, the older I got the more morbid drinkers
I met; I even became jaded with life, call it
Disillusioned: speedily after a long debauch!
And then I met—after I stopped drinking,
—met, those who didn’t and I saw their tired
Worn-out, nerves and brains: poison-soaked,
Fried and toasted as if in a long drunken dream!
No: 4529 (8-6-2014)
Note: The Poet was a licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor for ten-years, he worked as a director for Hawthorn Institute, and Senior Counselor for duel disorders, for Riverhills Hospital, in Prescott Wisconsin, and for the Minnesota Federal and State Prison System for seven years. He drank for 22-years; and has been sober for thirty.
18) The Worldwide Drunks!
Alcohol drenched roads, dotted with saloons!
Once inside of a saloon, I could talk to any
Man or woman, no matter what city or town!
In a saloon, no one’s a stranger…
In some I wrote my poetry on napkins!
Smoking cigarette after cigarette, until some-
One woke me up from my trance.
But how to plan one’s drinking—is a trick,
You must guide it around: work and sleep?
No matter how I planned, it was always after
The first drink. I’d even pay the barkeep
To take a drink with me, to take a break
From thinking on how to arrange this task.
And more often than not, I was given the
Suggestion to join another in a drink, either
At the bar or at a nearby table.
The more saloons I visited in a night, the more
Jingle in my throat, and thus, I’d get to know
Everybody in a little village or town, in one
Long drunken night! And this is the service
Alcohol renders. And it never changed, where-
Ever I’d go around and around the world.
In Germany, Switzerland, in Amsterdam,
Scotch and soda, beer and wine, barbarian
Or Friend, all the same, strange men, and
Stranger men, from one saloon to another…
Everyone was a brother: lest you ordered milk.
No: 4529 (8-6-2014)