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.
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
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!