Maybe Even Realer by Robin Richardson

Dear drunkards,

As 2012 draws to a close, I hope and pray you all have mighty plans for New Years Eve, champagne to drink, someone to smooch, and wild ways you’ve dreamed of saying goodbye to the big 12 and hello to Lucky Number 13!

Robin Richardson has the honor of being the last and final drunk review of this great year. Her poem “Maybe Even Realer” appeared in the Winter 2012 edition of The Boiler Journal, one of my new favorite online journals to date. Please read her poem, HERE, before proceeding to the review. All three of her poems that appear in this issue are outstanding, as is the journal itself. Please, take your time, read, drink, enjoy.



In a forest by the lake and yet, at once, also in a seedy bar near Queen Street in Toronto. Someone has left her purse in someone else’s apartment because the leaving was all she could do. The leaving held her by the neck because city-things do not bode well with a girl gone wild inside herself for not only a man, but a way out. And in the bar in Toronto, she dreams into the girl’s thigh next to her, as a path dreams to a lake in the middle of nowhere, to swim, drinking into herself, all the way to the bottom, to the heart of it. Where are her wrists, where has she been. In a forest by the lake it is all mud and woman and earth. The smell of smoke transforms to mystic-speak. The Girl Guides tell her, Forget the purse, the city, come with us.


This poem is the kind of drunk one gets to escape into nowhere. The kind fathers warn against while they themselves experience on a regular basis, especially once their little girls turn into the kind of woman they see at the pub down the street. Their hair is mystical to them, like this drunk, like this tumbling into the muddied braids of beautiful women, thin enough to drink through their straws, their hollowed out eyes. The kind that guys have and wish themselves to be women–secretive, tribal, dancing to the bluegrass band next door. The mandolins melding into fairy tales. The forever kind that, once you stare, stares into you. Dizzy, doubtful, make-believe until it is all you feel, and all real until dangerous.


The poem is a leaf on the bedroom floor fainting into the grain. The head of a doll, twisted but smiling. “Slow-spinning / past the blue…” So beautiful you want to do it again, read it again, until the body of the poem–the hangover–becomes a lake and you, at the bottom of it, sleeping.

A ‘Great Hunger’ and Thirst — Patrick Kavanagh (Runner-Up Essay by Anna Warrington)

Dear fellow poetry-drinkers,

The first round of the Essay Competition was a tough one. I wish I could buy everyone an unlimited amount of word-booze and praise. However, instead, I will simply keep having Essay Competitions and hope, eventually, everyone will win something!

This round was especially hard to judge and I decided to have a runner-up. Ms. Anna Warrington’s fine essay deserves to be enjoyed and read. And she will receive a book of contemporary poetry of her choice, purchased by Drunk Poems and sent to her door (which happens to be in Germany!) Below, please read her intoxicating essay.


A ‘Great Hunger’ and Thirst – Patrick Kavanagh.


So where was I?  The first time I was ever drunk?  Ah yes.  A happy memory.  I was young of course, and intoxicated in the worst of all places: school.  It wasn’t the time or the place, I knew, but there was nothing I could do about it.  One long swig of ‘The Great Hunger’ by Patrick Kavanagh and I was pie-eyed.  The words were treacle-coloured whisky, the strong and peaty kind that makes your eyes water.  Kavanagh spoke of earth and existence, ‘clay is the word and clay is the flesh’, in a way that brought me, swaying, to stand with his man Maguire at the edge of the old world, looking out on the blurred contours of existence.  Let’s go back again now, in our minds, and see if after our walk we won’t buy the man a drink.


Maguire is one of the ‘mechanised scarecrows’ that are stuck, a foot deep, into the boggy farmland of Ireland. Soaked half and half in the heady brews of religion and porter, he is one of the pub storytellers, singers and sots of tradition, so bound up in the language and culture of the land that to him it is inescapable.  As a young man his life feels like drunken freedom; he is at one with the earth and somehow beyond time or humanity:


The drills slipped by and the days slipped by

And he trembled his head away and ran free from the world’s halter,

And thought himself wiser than any man in the townland

When he laughed over pints of porter

Of how he came free from every net spread

In the gaps of experience.


There is such heady joy in the image of the man broken free, unconfined by the constraints of convention, religion, morality or responsibility. He, like us, is elated by his own aliveness, with words conveying the feeling of the wind against bare skin, of momentary weightlessness and inhibition.  But he, like us, has had a strong draught of language, and the hangover is inevitable.


In Kavanagh’s epic landscape the span of a man’s life is the blink of an eye, and perhaps his lens is the bottom of an empty pint glass.  Drunk as we are, we know already what is to come for the drinker and dreamer.  The poet invites us to step back and ponder Maguire and his companions before we too drain our glasses:


If we watch them for an hour is there anything we can prove

Of life as it is broken-backed over the Book

Of Death?


It seems like a futile task all of a sudden.  The elation of the first pint has become something more morose, more earnest as the linguistic alcohol takes hold.  Life itself is mortal, and we know it.  In this contradictory world religion is a ‘Book of Death’ demonising fleshly human experience.  Instead of allowing us to drown in the opiate imagery like laudanum, Kavanagh conjures instead a world of brutal, vital detail, and in it we see everything that the pious-minded Maguire has avoided in the ‘gaps of experience':


Here crows gabble over worms and frogs

And the gulls like old newspapers are blown clear of the hedges, luckily.

Is there some light of imagination in these wet clods?

Or why do we stand here shivering?


On the farmland life is a scramble for survival, gulls narrowly escape random death or harm while the worm and frogs are doomed to sustain others.  We, with our intoxicated eyes, see the dirty beauty of nature, its ruthlessness. It is a glorious dance of wild-eyed, honey-tongued abandon.  There is no pity here, only luck occasionally.  The heady moment isn’t everlasting.  Time betrays us and the blood cools.  We shiver in the cold.  Why did we bother to come at all?  For Maguire, in the fug of drunken words, the dance of sex and survival lured him in.  Now all he can see is a road to sin.   ‘He could not walk/ The easy road to destiny. He dreamt/ The innocence of young brambles to hooked treachery.’


So he rejects his fleshly humanity, a decision that draws him towards a different kind of spiritual perdition:


Lost in the passion that never needs a wife

The pricks that pricked were the pointed pins of harrows.


As if sober and repentant in the morning, Maguire allows the lustful vision of a life of women and children, of love and warmth, to subside.  In his repentant, hung-over heart he has made his mother’s advice not to wed a virtue.  Instead, he has poured his physicality into the ‘wet clods’ of soil, the inanimate land that will coldly embrace him at his final end.  In his mind there is something noble in this gesture of renunciation at first, but it is a self-deception that cannot last:


He looks, towards his house and haggard. ‘O God if I had been wiser!’

But now a crumpled leaf from the whitethorn bushes

Darts like a frightened robin, and the fence

Shows the green of after-grass through a little window,

And he knows that his own heart is calling his mother a liar

God’s truth is life – even the grotesque shapes of his foulest fire.


Wisdom finds its way to Maguire.   In the blink of an eye the bottom of his glass has distorted the young man’s face forever.  With the passing of time he has become a ‘haggard’ old man, a ‘crumpled leaf’ waiting for the winds of fate.  The ‘after-grass’ of the future outside the window is ironically green, though his own summer has passed.


The bitter, smoky taste of whisky words remain.  Maguire recognises the lie his life has been, sees his heart wasted through inaction, the drought of his unkissed lips and the twisted shape of his untouched body.  ‘O God if I had been wiser!’ he exclaims, realising how much he has lost, how foolish and deluded he has been.  But the fiery aftertaste of his words are cleansing.  He learns, too late for himself, but perhaps just in time for the intoxicated reader: ‘God’s truth is life – even the grotesque shapes of his foulest fire’.  I’ll drink to that Maguire.  I’ll drink to that.

The Pangolin (*Winning* Essay by Ryan Biracree)

Dear Drunkards,

The Essay Contest Results are in. We have one winner and one runner-up. Stay tuned for the runner-up essay (the author of which will receive a book of contemporary poetry of their choice).

The winner of the Drunk Essay Contest is Ryan Biracree for his Essay on The Pangolin, by Marianne Moore. Ryan receives $100 dollars. His essay is below:


The Pangolin, by Marianne Moore

Ryan Biracree


Nevertheless he has sting-proof scales –– and therein the exulation of impenetrability, the refutation of the world which, as in Job, “runneth upon me like a giant.”


I have only ever seen a pangolin, the stone-swallowing uninjurable artichoke, taxidermied. Rachel Poliquin says, “Taxidermy rebuilds animals with human longing.” Poetry too, except with more longing. We are the upholstering agent stretching sting-proof scales.


In the way that this poem is about life, I am obsessed with it as death. It is so life-ly that it is so close to death, and so closed with intellect that instinct reacts and stuns –– a deer in the headlamp of the taxidermist.


Is a dead animal more dead or animal? Is the live animal more animal or splendor?


To explain grace requires a curious hand –– and therein the swooning to poetics. Poliquin says that although taxidermy “requires death, it is not motivated by brutality.” Poetry too, except with some brutality. Grace is concordant, or at least coincident with death –– the cure for sins, as any cure, is still a loss of something. And if illness and loss of illness both are not intoxicating –– than what is? The uninterrupted central tail-row so exhuberantly celebrated might be more accurately “uncorruptible” (archaic), thus undesiring –– and what is more protected than what does not desire? After my friend died I was obsessed with armor.


Poliquin again: “It still is the animal but forever blurred with human desire.” Blurred with something. As drunk as intellect gets, there is the animal –– ready to scurry and die and be an ardent. That is the satiation of the dead, the silence that one feels at his poet’s desk and taxidermist’s table (I have both, am both), outnumbered in his species ––a monk and monk and monk –– and this because the clamor of anatomy griffons a dark capability and blindness both on that which (in the perfect sadness) leaves half the flowers worth having –– his grace that drunkenness provides: moving by frictionless creep in a reality that one does not believe.


Self-Performance with Gorgeous Insecurity by Megan Williams

December’s first Drunk Review comes wrapped in sweaters in winter. Perfect for the beginning of a month where many people drink down family get-togethers, loneliness, joy and insecurity with bubbles, shining little flutes filled with bubbles. Ah, yes.

I love, especially, the form of this poem as it highlights the duality we struggle with between inner selves and between person to person. Kind of like the many holiday gatherings this time of year, only to separate again come morning, come spring.

Please, before proceeding to the Review, read Self-Performance with Gorgeous Insecurity, first published in the journal Vinyl Poetry, Volume 6, HERE




This poem was born in a bedroom strewn with sweaters. Every shape and size. The colors hung from the windows to block out the light and seance the memory of a loved one who does not call. The poem is spinning in a bed, half shaking and half asleep, leaping into conversations that float in and out of the smell of sweaters. It kisses itself. It licks the phone. It sings into the body a soothing gin and tonic. There are holiday sweaters, father’s sweaters, pillows made of who-used-to-be-there. The bedroom is split, as is the one-voiced conversation, so as to appease the gods of bars and half-hearted mistakes who wish only to be celebrated, ballooned into being by the poem itself. The poem is born in the split that will always exist between two bodies, two minds. And in the between spaces, the love of a girl for ultimately herself which is the faltering between worlds.




This poem is the kind of drunk one feels in the rush of a brisk winter walk from subway to subway, emerging in new cities of the self each time the doors open. There are friends at times and lovers at times, following the poem from place to place, city to city, mountain to mountain. A girl grabs the edge of a sweater and swivels until her high heels turn into snow-boots, her champagne into Irish coffee, her girlfriend into boyfriend into you. It drinks on what-ifs and lives on anticipation. The skipping between one midnight to the other: alone in a room and alone in a sing-song bar.




This poem wakes the next morning not knowing how the tear in her knee happened but praises all the same that it happened at all and that her knees were kissing something good though it has left her for a cheap breakfast at a diner somewhere without her. This poem believes, ultimately, in making-separation-right and watches princesses watching princesses wait for the rescue, confused and taking notes and longing for the split-track spine of the railroad line to carry the body of the poem singular, hungover, to the top of the trees to dry out, to look out on every town and every mistake so as to bless them, renew them, wait, listen and become new again without forgetting the smoke it took to get her exactly here, in winter, sober-sick and in love with the pain it takes to be born into this world of lovers and sweaters and selves, performing, forgiving again and again.



Glass in a Tea Cup by Cristina Norocross

Today’s drunk-review considers a poem by Cristina Norocross called Glass in a Tea Cup first published in October 2011 on The Nervous Breakdown.

Much like the title of the publication venue, Glass in a Tea Cup quietly cracks into our psyche until we feel an underlying current of nervous energy, ending in a somewhat hopeful show of angels that may quiet and sooth and bring truth to the top of the liquid of our lives.

Please read Mrs. Norocross’ poem HERE before proceeding.


At a PTA meeting. At a soccer match. In the Wagoneer, chasing socks and other people’s children. There is no alcohol, yet. But the mind keeps spinning into the next thing which is not the Self’s thing but someone else’s. There are pine trees on the side of the road. Forever the taxi for the next cheer, next hug, need, splinter. The soul is drunk. It is getting dark and soon there will be bedtime stories where we tell them they can fly. Or be president. Or run into the ocean and become friends with whales. What they don’t know is the heavy and heavier teacups we spill on our way to the bath. The need for solace. The energy bundled and bundling and never released. We are getting drunk in transit to a place where for only a minute we may truly be alone.


The drunk is short and hurried. Sips here and there without notice or time to enjoy. The pull-kind of drunk. Where are we needed. Which bottle, which glass, which scrape or bruise. The other parents whisper, Is she doing it right. Is she an angel or a stop sign. Is the poem going to lead, like the next drink, to salvation. And from what? Our own lover, our own children’s songs to the gods and fairy-tales and wishes thrown into a fountain flowing with sweet wine on a summer’s night in a cabin without. Without noise or laundry or dishes. Just the poem. Alone. Spinning. Itself a childhood encapsulated in a teacup, careful of the glass from the adult world. Do not drink. The kind of drunk that happens in split seconds before the phone rings.


It is dark. Everyone is sleeping. The smell of lasagna in the kitchen and the guilt-filled energy dragging us out into the world in our PJ’s for another drink from the poem because we get the shakes. The need to know resolution from a drunk that never quenches. The hangover that happens on fences. Between bars and the playground. Between the world and the top of the mountain. Where Jesus escaped the needs of others. In the desert and moments of quiet. There might be angels. We may not have lost communication with our selves. It is dark. Everyone is sleeping. Hungover-angels are coming, breathing children, ours, and  the wishes of the inner child.


Essay Contest! (with drunk-prize money!)

Listen up, poem-aholics!
Drunk Poems is having an essay contest.

The rules are simple.
Write an essay about the first time you felt “intoxicated” by a poem, poetry-reading experience, or collection of poetry.

The essay that brings me with you to that experience and gives me the best buzz will win $100.00 and have their essay published on Drunk Poems.


Deadline: November 30th

No word limit, just keep reader’s in mind!

Send your essay to:

What on Earth: the shortest autobiography by Sarah Kai Neal

Now here is a tumbling thimble of a poem that spills the wine of Jesus and the woman by the well. The fairies raise their glasses and earthworms slink on in bars and each others’ own mouths.

Our second drunk-poem-review considers a poem by Sarah Kai Neal, titled: What on Earth: the shortest autobiography published in the fall 2011 edition of the wonderful journal Wicked Alice. Please visit Wicked Alice frequently and without discretion. It will feed you. You will be full and drunk on the best of the best.

Please read Ms. Neal’s poem HERE before proceeding to the review.


In the memory of a little girl’s bedroom. At midnight. The lights are off. The moon, waxing. There are great oaks outside and the memory opens the window of the little girl’s room for there is “no god in [the] house”. Outside, a forest. We enter carrying an old wine sack with the sweetest life of grapes and oak bark. In the forest, a cathedral made of limbs and sticks and stones brought in from “realized rivers” still kissed with moss. There are grown-ups chasing the poem, hunting it like a madman to silence her belly-song. The roots, drunk on the earth’s oldest story, grabs the grown-ups by the ankles, trips them. Some hit their head on rocks, stumps. Foxes run alongside the poem and the white of the moon casts a light toward the door of the cathedral of all who have ever believed in innocence. Girls and boys from every age and tongue can be seen dancing next to her, the poem, in sadness and quiet celebration. Underneath stones which support the tree-cathedral runs tributaries of blood from all the mothers since the beginning of time. The foxes tell her to lick, she does, the poems of those unable to speak. She drinks, “finds arrowheads”. The grown-ups fall back, astonished at the poem-girl spinning without the chains, without any blame but bruised and still struggling to hold on  to her wine sack of truth.


The kind of drunk one feels when saying No to the powers that be. A splitting of a tree and inside, the headache of knowing the power of drink and using it. The swimming down to the middle-earth of the self and getting intoxicated without knowing one is intoxicated. She is a poem pressed against a bathroom stall because someone may one day write the history of violence and break it open into beautiful fields. It is short, hurried. A drink in an alley as a teenager stammering to see the streetlights because her shoes are missing and though there is glass in the street, “a day she began to bleed”, this is what it feels like as a girl-becoming-woman.


The friend who finds and brings eggs, a poem by Linda Gregg, is grace. Your head-drunk-alone words spoken as though written in a holy book are forgotten come morning but you remember it said something along the lines of: The body is still a holy temple and has been since the poem’s birth “into Ocean.”

Other Lovers Poems by Caitlin Elizabeth Thomson

I am excited to present to you the first of many drunk-poem-reviews. The inaugural drunk poem is Other Lover’s Letters by Caitlin Elizabeth Thomson, first published in the June 2011 edition of SOFTBLOW and recorded in October of 2011 for Whale Sound, as well. Whale Sound was a brilliant project that has since, I believe, retired. It was created by the talented Nic Sebastian.

Please read Caitlin’s poem in SOFTBLOW and hear it recorded at Whale Sound before reading below.


This poem is written in a Brooklyn apartment after drinking a bottle of white wine. The bottle of white wine was bought at a corner shop after a quick rain and a poetry reading. The words still spinning in the air and down the gutter, this poem was born first in an ache in the fingers. The poetry reading was dirty. Her hands were dirty. There were many people there. They were laughing. Some women wore their hair in messy buns.

The poem looked down from the rafters. The ache began in the fingers. Walking out of the reading, there were rats. They seemed beautiful in their dirt kingdom. Brooklyn was loud and hit her in the waist. She was wasted on words.

Corner stores make one feel lonely. Contemplative. She wanted something simple, like a biscuit. Her gloves were placed in her pocket, followed by the soon-to-be poem, invisible. But there was a bottle of wine with a blue label. Some vague vision of the sea, with rocks and a lighthouse. So up to the Brooklyn apartment it goes.

From inside one place the ache leads to another place.


This poem is stumbling, controlled. Focused. The kind of drunk people have before missions. Wars. Confrontations.

A hard knot in the chest, a knock on the floor. The wine bottle rolls to other parts of the soul-country.

People enter the door. She wears a nightgown. Powder blue. Inviting, soft. But her hands are steady. Her window, foggy. This one lives near the ocean. The other, the forest. Now Brooklyn is a party where she swings from a chandelier and sings farewell and I love you’s. “I hear it when you say roof.”

“An unknown trouble” beings. They respond with their own kind of fruit. “[P]lums for keys” becomes the “flicker of you appealing.”

Now she’s peeling the wine label in the corner with “roasted garlic” and to the hostess she sends “a reminder / to  turn the stove off.”

Now she sits, this party which is her living room, in the middle “warming the soil” of the drunk-poem. The poem which “teas[es] the sleeping girl” in her chest, “knocking / on strangers’ doors” until it ends.

Caitlin Elizabeth Thomson’s poem is a hangover like the kind you get after riding a roller-coaster even though you were afraid to clamp the bar down. You’re dizzy but released of pressure. You want it again. So you keep stepping, diligently, back into your heart. Their heart. It heals and hardens at once. Until the sea opens up and you’ve won. Somehow, you’ve won.

Happy Drunk Birthday

Dear world,

Hello, name is Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick and I’m addicted to poems.

Let’s all raise a glass and toast the birthday of a very special endeavor. Drunk Poems!

My passion in life is poetry. This is not normal, compared to the rest of the human population.

How can we get more people involved in the poem-space-world?

Get them drunk, of course!

Drunk Poems wants to get your blood going, get your cheeks ruby red, sloppy-happy-spinning on poetry!

Links to current, contemporary poems will appear, along with the guided tour and description of the kind of drunk the words create. Together the buzz will be outstanding!

The kind of poems linked will range from contemporary poets “famous” in their reading circuits and New York swag, and others who are baby poets without the grants and grunts but have poems just as celebratory as the top-shelf poems of their higher-ups.

So, if you have a poem published to a linkable site, check out the submission process and let’s party!