Dry for a day,
then like an anxious ticket holder,
he waits for the clatter
of train on a track,
and he’s back
on the Jack Daniel express.
Promises made, promises broken.
The thirst, is deaf to the cries of his children,
their tears are like
rain on the window, a blur
a dull sound against the pane.
Promises broken, promises made.
One drink, then another,
‘till he’s free
from the unbearable
of sobriety’s salvation,
when the fare is paid,
and like Abraham
with Isaac under a blade,
he offer up the rent, the food,
their shoes in winter.
There is no angel with a ram
to stay his hand from the slender bottle
that he empties with supplicant gulps,
of bitter anguish.
The venomous viper courses down his throat.
He waits impatiently for guilt to subside
and the intoxicant
to take away his sins.
Remorse is for tomorrow.
Plunged, into the amber blood of his savior,
the solution that brings absolution,
the unholy Eucharist led by a spirit
that lulls him into numbness.
Finally, he no more needs to drink.
His eyes fall heavy,
his body melts into slumber,
he is suspended in blissful silence—
that somewhere, where nothing matters
and the soul no longer stings,
where the question of love deserved,
is washed away.
If they’re lucky,
he finds a bed, a bench, a floor
to sleep it off,
and not a slab at the city morgue
or a view from a jail-room door
and a Monday morning Judge
who sets a bail they can’t afford
because he clocks in at two.
Lunchbox in hand,
his sober ears ring loud
with the church bell tolls
of mother’s pleas
of, “Please no more.”
And like the sound of a sad violin
the overwhelming guilt
sings its pitiful promise:
this time I’ll
I’ll quit, this