A survey of my college poetry class revealed that approximately
13 out of all 17 students drank enough every night after
returning to their dorm rooms to black out for several hours.
The other four just constantly wished to be in a coma
or to pluck their hearts out like an eyelash just to stop feeling so much honesty.
See, that’s the great thing about most poets: if the pen and ink don’t work,
they turn to the bottle. That’s why so many of their lovers
wake up to drunken poems scrawled in red paint across their convertibles
instead of drunken texts blinking in their cell phone inboxes.
My cousin Carla, who runs the slam poetry scene in Chicago,
has seen audience members throw paint bombs on the stage in anger
after a bad reading, the embarrassed poet in question
forced to walk down the steps and out the door
looking like a Jackson Pollock artwork come to life.
There are mornings when I wake up at 4am after dreaming of the person
I promised myself I would stop writing poems about
with the first and last lines of a new piece about how much I miss him
running through my head. It’s such a shame to let good writing
go to waste, but then every forgotten stanza is a sacrifice.
After all, Charles Bukowski once said even the number of brain cells
his drinking killed off was nowhere near as depressing
as the number of lines it erased from his memory.
But even my poetry class could come to agree, drinkers
and non-drinkers alike, that the morning hangover after a night
of delicious vodka is nothing compared
to the pain of being forced off the stage splattered in paint
after reading a poem made of your heart
that was ripped from your chest and lungs by an entire crowd
in front of your very eyes.