July 12, 2006

Dry and Dry (after Emerson's Blight)

Give me booze,
for I am sick of soft drinks
and die of thirst. If I had
only the brews and spirits of the tavern,
rum, cognac, gin, vodka and applejack,
bock beer and tequila, schnapps, whiskey,
mescal and malt liquor, kvass and sake,
and fine and not-so-fine wines, which to these bars
draw untold lushes with a common need,
not told, not known, and I could smell
their odor, and their chemistry absorbed
by strange osmosis through my flesh,
driving the demons and feeding the angels,
oh, if it were so, I could be a part
of the rounds, caught up in the wild
and crazy world, and be mixer
of their varied combinations.
But these punks, who invade our clubs,
bold as the dealer who runs the hood,
and often using the drug he makes,
don't love the brew they suck; they don't know it.
All they love is gangsta games.
The old men studied magic in suds,
and fortunes in an empty mug,
and omnipotence in a broken bottle,
preferring things to tags, for these were men;
these were drinkers of the drinking world,
and, wherever their bleary eyes fell,
they met the bootprints of the same. Our eyes
are not strangers to the fermented fruit,
are not strangers to the goblet and to the keg.
The hair of the dog says, "No!" and growls.
For we use it selfishly;
we gargle unreligiously,
and pickled, seek its power, not its pardon.
So they push us away,
yield only what our whining tongue is due;
but the sweet wealth of sex and song,
the best of the gods' grapes are withheld;
and in the midst of shots and barmaids, we tipplers
and tosspots of the beer garden, shut out
to drink ginger ale and lemonade,
turn pale and die.