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.
WHERE WE ARE GETTING DRUNK:
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.
KIND OF DRUNK:
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.