Ode to Alcohol

by Peter Goldsworthy

Peter Goldsworthy

You are the eighth
and shallowest
of the seven seas,

a shrivelled fragmented ocean
dispersed into bottles, kegs, casks,
warm puddles in lanes behind pubs:
a chain of ponds.

Also a kind of spa,
a very hot spring:
medicinal waters to be taken
before meals, with meals, after meals,
without meals;

chief cure
for gout, dropsy, phlegm,
bad humours, apoplexy, rheumatism
and chief cause of all the same.

At best you make lovely mischief:
wetter of cunts,
drooper of cocks.

At worst you never know when to stop:
wife-beater, mugger of innocents,
chief mitigating circumstance
for half the evil in the world.

All of which I know too well
but choose to ignore,
remembering each night only this advice:
never eat on an empty stomach;

for always you make me a child again ---
sentimental, boring
and for one happy hour very happy ---
sniffing out my true character like a dog:
my Sea of Tranquillity,
always exactly shallow enough to drown in.

Last updated February 21, 2023