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It is the big black before an execution,
Dark enough for him to feel the texture of a sound.
Fresh from an alcoholic stupor (giving a strange,
Recluse’s keenness to the senses): the tart aroma of
Soiled bedding, of his own stifling breath,
Bestowing a certain intimacy with his own extinction.
In the street, an urban fox shrieks – without passion,
The capacity for dread being peculiar to Man.

The lions and zebra mooch past each other,
Knowing that occasional slaughter is a
Transaction to be undertaken: briefly,
Perfunctorily, when and only when occasion demands;
An instance of necessary drama – no more – in the
Indiscriminate torpor of a dusted, saffron noon.
For Nature is strictly in the nature of a business.
It’s humankind, that feels the sting of personal affront.
A folly of our egotism, and the social clamour
That gossips, pitiably, behind our eyes.

You’ve got to admit it: there’s not one experience
That is not better when he’s pissed.
For then, and only then, does one stand
On the brink of specious possibility; can one ride,
With rising courage and purpose, the coat tails of
Mystics and brutes – a happy hour
Worth vomit, ruin and shame – to race
On flailing legs the blind, primeval track of the jaguar.

Sobered, he’s back in his box:
Each day the waiting prelude to a murder, to his own
Murder, conceived and rounded in his mind’s eye
…Leaving one to contemplate the vain encumbrance of a
Mind; and the benediction of good, cheap plonk.

Stephen Jackson
January 2006

An afterword:

Poe’s inebriation was a mnemonic means, a method of work, a method drastic and deadly, yet appropriate to his passionate nature. I am told that he did not drink as a gourmand but as a barbarian…as if to commit an act of murder, as if something in him had to be killed, a worm that would not die.

- Charles Baudelaire, writing on Edgar Allan Poe


Stephen Jackson

London, United Kingdom

  • Artist

Artist's Description

Death comes in many forms, and this is one of those one can endure every day. The link betrween alcoholism and creativity is notorious – anything to silence the inhibiting, censorious, accusing, stifling left cerebral hemisphere. It’s often assumed that problem drinkers are dissolute or “lacking self-control.” If only!

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