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A Problem with Alcohol
Poem: We Drink because We Must


have a drinking problem, and it is rather an embarrassing one for a poet. Namely: I don't drink nearly enough. Worse still, when I do drink, I tent toward those frou-frou tropical drinks, filled to overflowing with rums and fruit juices and bedecked with plastic mermaids and tiny umbrellas that the Kids in the Hall once made fun of. I want to be a martini drinker -- indeed, one of my most oft-republished essays concerns itself with the martini. But instead, whenever I go out to drink, I find myself happily ordering a concoction that looks like thick syrup, served in a bowl shaped like a volcano, which my server then sets on fire for me.

Well, so be. If I can't drink like a great souse, I can, at the very least, affect all the other affectations of a magnificent drinker. And I do. I am a great one for toasts, although I am only capable of remembering two when I am put on the spot. One is an incomprehensible Irish epigram that asks the following:

May the devil use your backbone as a stepladder when picking apples in the garden of hell.

The only function of this toast, as far as I can tell, is to bewilder drunks, which seems pointless. After all, it is possible to bewilder a drunk simply by asking him where he parked his car. So, when pressed, I resort to a toast that I wrote myself, and honestly believe might outlive me. It is as follows:

Good friends in hard time
And hard friends in good times!

I am also a great one for the drinking song, which might be my favoritest of bad poetic forms. Indeed, my second-most-often republished story concerns exactly that subject, and I exist in a state of permanent disappointment that a jukebox has replaced the piano that once moldered in the corner of every local bar. Instead of hearing a crowd of drunks gathered around as one pounds on the keyboard with his fists and all sing "The Barsted King of England," we are subjected to the pabulum that passes for hit radio. Or, worse still, we must endure karaoke version of songs by Mariah Carey. (Incidentally, in a moment of unadulterated snark, Robbie Williams said this of the idea of dating Carey: "You're carrying the McBonkers torch to the stadium of mad"; now I feel certain that my next chapbook must be titled The Stadium of Mad.)

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If I can't sip my jungle juice and spew out filthy lyrics with my fellow drunks, however, I can still author my share of drinking songs. In fact, I plan to do my very first public reading of my dreadful poetry tonight or this coming Saturday (check my calendar for information). In the spirit of somebody who is to keen on self-promotion, I have printed up a number of card-stock bookmarks to give away at the even. All are printed with the image of the stewed poster in the upper-left-hand corner of this page, and all are printed with the following poem, which must be my most republished:

We Drink Because We Must

I have found when I am sodden
All my sins are fast forgodden,
But when I put the gin away
My sinful thoughts they stick and stay.
So to a man of sinful thinking
I say there is no sin in drinking.
For such a man the only sin
Is to hide away the fifth of gin.

I have been planning on attending poetry readings all week, but have repeatedly decided against it as the result of wicked winds and falling snow, both of which conspired to glaze Omaha with a patina of powdery white that I have found most discouraging. Instead, I have had a very quiet few days, mostly spent rubbing my neck to ascertain whether my glands had swollen or not. But I have also fiddled around with this journal, changing its look and adding a feature by which you can dowload a free copy of my chapbook The Great Whiskee River. I should have been out, however. This fiddling with the computer is behavior unbecoming to a poet. I should be out drinking.


© Max Sparber. Click for republication information.

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Posted by UkuleleKing at 1:47 p.m.

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