A Memory of Living in Pennsylvania

I only drank beer yesterday
a few bottles, maybe eight or ten.
It was the first time in a year
that we didn’t have any wine or bourbon,
vodka even, in the house.
I went to bed early
a little before one
took a good while to find sleep
woke up several times
because of being shocked by dreaming so loud.

My system seems in flux, as though confused.
I have air from all ends. I gurgle.
I am tired, wide awake.
Busy with too many cigarettes.
I hesitate to write this out
having read too many others already
but in my hesitation hear the voice of denial
(it’s not me you see).
While in the same sliver of thought
I hold that babble at the furthest reach
like a rapist’s bloodied sock.
The stink of it, not hip at all.

I itch, I really do. That other cliché.
Little beings hidden above the hairline.
Not in some slathering they’re coming
through the walls, Ma
kind of a way.
Just itchy is all.
I’m calm, mostly. Hyper-sensitive.
Wondering. I cannot be strung out.
I am not. I knew heroin years ago
heroin was a friend of mine
and this is not strung out, Mr. Quayle.
There are no spasms.
But I am thinking of friends who could help
prototypes; Holmes perhaps or Freud, clinical
objective users, heroes in the throes
people of no panic.

Not that there’s a reason to.
Very itchy. The thing of it
the potential problem (alright the problem)
is a little more long-winded than a bad year.
But on the other side
I did have a day a couple of months ago
24 hours almost
when I didn’t drink at all.
We were about to go to California for five days
(Pasadena, Monterrey, Carmel
Newport Beach, a junket itinerary;
two days of work sandwiching three days of play).
Just before leaving there was a fever
severe shaking. It’d been coming on for awhile
but I was fetal then and didn’t think I’d make it out West.

I didn’t drink, or couldn’t
and knew I had to be sick because of it.
Somehow, next morning, I was a little better
and rather than having her go alone
I strapped myself in and we drove
early, to the airport.

The next few days I shook on and off
but drank my way through it.
It passed quietly through my mind
that the pain, strange pain
I suffered on that trip
might in some way have been to do with
not drinking for a day
but I think, from looking at my notes
I mostly ignored that uncut path.

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