Ernest Hemingway, one of my longtime literary heroes, once said “write drunk, edit sober.” It’s one of my favorites of his many quotable one-liners, and one I take to heart possibly too often.
The following is a poem I wrote drunk, edited sober. I’m not entirely certain it’s finished, but I wanted to share it. Is a poem really ever finished? That’s a question I may never be able to answer.
it’s like sludge
the way the words build up in my bloodstream.
i feel them in my body,
but i can’t get them out.
i sit down with a notebook
a third for good measure, and a word document
a pen between my trembling fingers,
ready to bleed.
but little comes out.
i down a shot of whiskey
and another and another and another
until i lose count.
when i stop,
the bottle is lighter,
and my body is warm,
my cheeks flushed.
i hope the alcohol will melt the thick, gooey substance
lodged in my veins
so i can be free.
but it doesn’t.
it loosens the words so they run frantically
around my mind
searching for the exit
suffocating each other when they can’t find it.
they’re fighting over
which gets to escape the prison of my mind first.
which do i speak?
which do i keep locked away in hopes of a perfect moment
to facilitate their escape?
it’s deafening silence:
a blank page and a busy mind.
i drink more.
in attempt to silence the screaming
and avoid telling the stories that long to get out
but i cannot yet articulate.
unfortunately, whiskey is their liquid courage, too,
so I drag on
filled with words I cannot speak
and a mind I cannot silence.