Sloppy Drunk

by dschapman

They say I’m sloppy drunk, but really I’m just sunk down with a case of the burnt-up blues, and it’s taken its toll on my posturing. I slip, I slide around in the mud, my shoelaces undo themselves and wrap themselves around my toe; I trip, I say nothing, I stare at a spot in the ground, transfixed, for days. People, they ask me what the matter is, they tell me they’ve never seen me like this. I am visioning for myself a brilliant, everlastingly inertial world, a cutting truthness which bristles and tenses as I slip closer. I can’t stand straight so I must lay down. I sink in the mattress like into a puddle of urine. It washes over my legs, it butters my wounds and blemishes in warmth.

All of the damn reading I’ve been doing… wasting time on the quacks of the twentieth century, the unhealthy rantings of pedicured charlatans, the antics of the mad and the wicked. I’ve been reading too much Mencken, I’m always thirsty for a beer, and I never much liked beer. And oysters, too. Crabs, the stuff of pale faces and screams, brine-backed rodents of the filthy ocean floor, but the way the old bastard wrote about them, you’d like they were the fruit of the cherubim. I’ve been so thirsty, I’ve been drinking. I’ve been reading too much Miller again… what a petty, useless name to mention, what a misunderstood way to idolize – but if you just read him once, in and all around you, with the hot-blooded physical empathy of being, how couldn’t you come away inspired? It makes me think about love… I do not like to think about love. Like nostalgia, I’m reviled by it, wary of it’s shameful deluge. I’ve been drinking too much beer, thinking too clearly of love – I’ll bloat up like a rotten corpse and explode – if I’m lucky. No, I’ve no taste for love, but I’ve got this body of mine, so I ought to make use of it. Fill it with fire, douse it with expensive dinners, beat it senseless against a naked pear tree in the night… but my bodies been too over-exposed to sensation, I have eaten too much and drunk too much, too. My livers black, my lungs, they’re black – from the back of my teeth to my spinal cord, corrupted. I need to dismiss from my being the bodily, for now… but my spirit is just as corrupted, it needs it’s own time to purify. I need new distraction, I need a hand towards elevation…

So in a fit I opened Dostoevsky. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I penned a rondeau, L’Honnete Homme, then fed it to the fireplace. I read through Rimbaud, for the re-acquaintance – par for the course. I read through Lautreamont, for the absurdities, ill-advised. I read every word of Walden, and Whitman, too – but it bores me. Agee, he makes me want to cry, and crying is much too bodily. Ibsen, Faulkner, Melville, they desert me when I need them. Although a  ship, now, that is something – a ship adrift across a sea, the wood and the rigging and biscuits, all those men, all those strange inspirations, the whales, the bleeding. But what will I ever know of ships? I am afraid of the sea… water, too deep, it maddens me. It must have maddened Melville too, to find in himself that kind of literature, to write his tragic writhing farce. All of mankind, it seems, has been swept up in the deluge… I can understand, after all, why would you want to resist? What is there else, but deafening nothing? But the sound of your screaming, and no one but you for to flee from it.

I am back into the old routines… I sleep as late as I can, for hours, but upon finally awaking I am disgusted with myself for missing my morning. I say nothing for a few hours to my friend, who is standing around outside my room to talk to me, because he loves me. He tells me, often, when I’m saying nothing for hours and trying to wrest myself from his presence, that most people don’t get enough love in their lives, but that, between him and my family, he thinks I probably get enough. It’s touching, and it’s presumptuous, and I want to puff my chest at him and knock him over. Like an animal, flexing, asserting himself. I wonder what he could know of love… but I myself know nothing. He is probably right, he is at least sincere, he at least believes he is right. It is his responsibility… and it is my responsibility to resent it. What else can I do, but kiss him, tell him I know, that I know it, that I love just as strongly back – because it would be true, if I were to say it. But I couldn’t. Not like this. Not in the middle of my silence.

We drink the last of my Rhine wine – Miller, a laugh – and get sloppy drunk together. My tongue loosens up a bit. The old routines… one meal a day, all those chocolates in between, barreling forward through time with eyes closed towards death. The old routine, to pretend that I’m just homesick, or even lovesick, just not really sick, just not really broken… (and at night, the staring at the mirror, the whispering of inward prayers) so I talk about pleasant things, maple syrup, streusel, the American Mercury, modern meta-ethical philosophies… but I cut myself short at the mention of philosophy. I look at my feet, I swallow my spit, anything not to mention philosophy. Just who do I think I am, just what mistake am I making today, and wouldn’t it be better not to make it at all? So I say nothing, and I tend to the burnt gravy on the stove top. It has been there for weeks…

A throw of the dice will never abolish chance!