How to Drink Yourself Sober ~ poetry by Alex Stolis

How to Drink Yourself Sober
Step Four, Into the Land of Nod

Creation gave us the inquisition. Ripe erotic Old Testament
Blues with a flat Midwestern accent. She’s a murder ballad
with a happy ending, has a story for every place she’s never
been. Our whole fable takes place before there were angels.
The sky is still, the sun a hollow dusky gray. We wait for Eden
to appear like some mirage. We ghost ourselves up and down
Superior Street, her eyes sharp in dull light she tells me we’re
strangely afflicted, not like these other dead. We’ve got magic
we’ve got voodoo. We’ve got the goods on God. She takes my
hand, we wade in the water ready for the beginning of time.


How to Drink Yourself Sober
Chapter Five: How it Works

I do things that aren’t good for me or good for my everlasting
soul. 1978: that girl I just met. We lie to each other in the back
seat on our way to the hospital. Today it would be called active
suicide ideation with plan & intent. Felicia with her knife against
my throat. I think of her compact and delicious body as the hum
of geometry, the music in spheres. One after another after three
more. My own private rosary with its luminous mysteries of flesh
and bone. Smoke willows between clouds we grasp at grey roots
of this forlorn and empty earth. My throat is dry I am mortar and
stone. She is cinder and ash and thunder. We’re ready for anything.
We hunger back where we belong. Ask no forgiveness.


How to Drink Yourself Sober
The Promises; Pages 83-84

We will be amazed before we are halfway through. We will
be sharp bone. We will be painstaking. We angle into each
other and I name us for stars. We flower against a black sky
our only direction down. Like water, like plums, like sinners
trying to con themselves out of absolution. It’s getting dark
and step after step after step we go backwards. It’s the end,
time for a prayer. I mouth the words, candles flicker in, out
as the last amen drifts away. She squeezes my hand asks me
for a cigarette. She laughs, says she quit a few days ago too
soon and it beats going back to the bottle. But I know better.
I know it’s all the same. I lie anyway. Promise it’s different.
Promise I’ll keep her safe.

Alex lives in Minneapolis.

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