Monday, July 20, 2020

On Alcohol by Sam Sax

On Alcohol


my first drink was in my mother

my next, my bris. doctor spread red

wine across my lips. took my foreskin



every time i drink     i lose something



no one knows the origins of alcohol. tho surely an accident

before sacrament. agricultural apocrypha. enough grain stored up

for it to get weird in the cistern. rot gospel. god water



brandy was used to treat everything

from colds to pneumonia

frostbite to snake bites


tb patients were placed on ethanol drips

tonics & cough medicines

spooned into the crying mouths of children



each friday in synagogue a prayer for red

at dinner, the cemetery, the kitchen




how many times have i woke

strange in an unfamiliar bed?

my head neolithic



my grandfather died with a bottle in one hand

& flowers in the other. he called his drink his medicine

he called his woman

    she locked the door



i can only half blame alcohol for my overdose

the other half is my own hand

that poured the codeine    that lifted the red plastic again & again &



i’m trying to understand pleasure     it comes back

in flashes    every jean button thumbed open to reveal

a different man     every slurred & furious permission



i was sober a year before [          ] died



every time i drink     i lose someone



if you look close at the process of fermentation

you’ll see tiny animals destroying the living body

until it’s transformed into something more volatile



the wino outside the liquor store

mistakes me for his son

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