Monday, April 12, 2010

The Vultures

When you drink to sleep, 3 AM is bad news. If you wake then and can feel the blow back coming, then you have to drink some more to go back to sleep. If you don’t, the morning is going to suck big time, but if you do then the morning is also going to suck because you will still be drunk at 5 or 6. If this happens it will have been because you didn’t drink enough the night before, but that is unpredictable, how much it takes today is not the same as yesterday. That gets worse the longer you continue to drink after a certain point, possibly because you have hurt your kidneys and liver.

That is part of what it means to realize that your drinking has gone beyond what it was and has changed on you whether you like it or not.

Sober vultures are not nearly so bad as coming-off-a-drunk vultures. These days the sober vultures are largely infesting some other poor sap. I don’t have them so much, hardly at all. In my first eight years they were a regular visitation, right along with that difficulty going to sleep at all. Getting sober after serious drinking is no picnic.

By the way, in AA some will say, if you feel guilty, it might be because you are. Others will say, screw guilt. Somewhere in the middle, that's the ticket. Only half the vultures have the right to perch where they do.

The Vultures

When I wake and it's
3 AM, and the vultures
sit near the dim foot
of my empty bed,
always more than one, lurking,
plotting with a glint
in their mean old eyes,
that's when I know it's going
to be a different
damn day.

May 3, 2009 8:22 PM


  1. Thanks for this Christopher. It's a sobering piece - pardon the pun.

    My father had a drinking problem. He managed to give up alcohol a few years before he died. I know he suffered dreadfully. Your poem reminds me of this.

    Good for you that you have managed to move on. My father nearly left it till it was too late.

  2. I can just hear my dad (ex-drinker Extraordinaire) saying, "It takes a buzzard to know a vulture." :-)

  3. To be watched like that must be a horrible experience. Can't even hide under the sheets.

    It is not good, but I take sleeping pills. I suffered from insomnia of different sorts. Is it wrong that I enjoy closing my eyes as the lights turn off? Is it wrong that I don't like to lay in the dark? Now I don't have to. One of the good things that has befallen from having a bad back. But then I started this paragraph saying, it is not good. Somewhere in between is the truth.


  4. Hello, friends. It is just what it is. I am grateful that I need no medicine to sleep. I have a different situation now.

    What intrigues me is how the patterns in my life shift around. I notice that what was written in stone in one period obviously is not so solid as my life changes. This points out the truth. I make this shit up and then believe my own bullshit.

    Change is far more possible than I want to believe. Most of my life has been described by "you can't make me!" Why I fear invasion so, I don't know but I know I cling desperately to the hope that I am captain of my soul.

    I have all the usual suspects in place. They don't really satisfy as answers.

  5. Sleep is a gift. There are years I've had it, years I haven't. I suppose I can see growing up with an alcoholic a gift. I won't be one, just from the lookin'. For others it is opposite. But the future is always yet to be written and I like your comment about the stone of today's reality being yestarday's moss. Not even sure if that makes sense, but I know what I mean...I think.

  6. I would have measured it the other way, the stone of yesterday becomes more pliable today. I feel much less adamant about practically everything at 27 years sober. Even at that, there are non negotiable parts to my life as a practical matter, more issues of stubborn limits than the ones that preserve my hide.

    These days I live on multiple sequential naps. I get up every two hours or so to honor my prostate but can go right back to sleep. When I have nothing going on, I add a morning and afternoon nap. What luxury! When nighttime comes I go to sleep easily. I took really old cat lessons. I mean lessons from a really old cat.

  7. I intended to comment on the last poem, to say I've been to Muir Woods a few years ago, and you did a fantastic job of bringing your vision to life. But Blogger won't let me comment on that one for some reason. :(

    So, I will also comment on this one! Powerful and instantly comprehensible metaphor... I wish I could relate to the situation better, but then again, perhaps not...

  8. Joseph, you may have noticed Karen's comment. The metaphor is not mine. It is really common for alcoholics to abhor 3 AM and it is really a dying victim feeling with the ones who will eat you soon watching. Egads! No I don't think you need to relate directly to that experience if you can avoid it.


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

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