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 onĀ  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.”

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