Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Choices, Hospital Halls

Here's a piece of whimsy but it's actually not so whimsical to really really not want to be me today. I have spent whole decades sure that I needed a respite from being me on a daily basis. "Don't you know I have to drink in order to live in this world??" How dare you not know that and not understand. I wrote that quoted phrase to my wife at the start of the last two weeks of my drinking when she lowered the boom, said basically if I wanted to drink I had to go away. Or she said I could try alcohol treatment. And the thing was I knew she meant it and would not back down. That was the worst two weeks of my life, the time before I capitulated and then got sober.

I can translate that phrase now into more precise language. But this is 26 years later and I have never actually said or written this until just now, this 26th anniversary of getting sober. What I was really saying was "Don't you know I have to drink in order to live with my head??" And that my friends is the exact same statement.


Now it's a hard call,
Thinking bird, fish, man,
Which is it to be today?
I like to fly, to swim, walk.
I like them all, but walking
Means thinking. This head
Still hurts from too much thinking.
So swim or fly, which?


Fast forward about twelve years and that's what this poem is about, what was going on about twelve years later. And then at poem's end, what happened in 2001.

Hospital Halls

The hospital halls,
Wandering, meeting nurses
No longer strangers
Now I've come here so often.
I know the way here
Like I know the way to you
And to you is why,
The only reason I would.

I know what to eat.
Only because I have to.
Back to you after.
Year after year, me,
And you gone now, it's all done.


  1. Hi Cristopher ... I just found your blog (like it a lot) because you link to mine (thanks) and wanted to let you know that I've put up a link to your blog too ... I'll be back later to read more ... Fenny

  2. Thank you for visiting. I found you I think through Jozien or maybe Rachel. I wanted to track your future posts because I liked what you had already posted so much.

  3. Ghost
    I am moved that you read so consciously in a universe where saying that to me makes sense.

    I owe my life to many people, but a few in particular and setting up chairs and drinking bad coffee back in the day.

  4. Christopher - Your alcoholism seems to have defined you in many ways. I understand this. It's everything else in light of that, in relation to that, in reaction to that. My hope for you is that you continue to in sobriety.

  5. Congratulations! Twenty six years of sobriety is an amazing accomplishment (especially for a poet). It's so good to see you again, brother. I just got my internet set up at my new place and have missed reading your work.

    Both of these poems are awesome. "Choices" says it all. I love how you bring fish, bird or man into the equation. "Hospital Halls" is beautifully sad. The last lines make me want to cry. But I am happy for your life of sobriety. What an amazing thing you have accomplished and should feel proud of your strength.

  6. Karen, thank you for your good wishes. I am indeed active in AA for very good reasons, among them the chance to pass on what has been given to me. However this site is more about the power and how it relates through all of life, and about the complexities of relating to that power and the world.

    Julie, I am so happy you are back up and running. I am hungry for the great poetry you offer up for the feast. In certain ways you are my current favorite poet still. And indeed, you are my spiritual sister.

  7. I celebrated my birthday yesterday. Along with my whole group. Nobody is keeping tabs at the moment. I have no idea when mine actually is.
    The cake was delicious! Congratulation to you and thank you too.

  8. Me and John, we say to each other as each year passes, what a long strange trip it's been.

    Thank you and congrats Jozien for your time.

    The man who most directly saved my life always asks me if I remember what I get after x number of years?
    Another (expletive deleted) day.

  9. I think I liked the ending to 'Hospital Halls' you left on my blog back in November better...(not a big difference, just rings a bit more). Made me cry then too.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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