“Soused Sestina” by Lauren Tivey, a poem from her winning chapbook, Moroccan Holiday, released in January, 2020 by The Poetry Box, has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize.
Please enjoy the poem, and feel free to leave a comment.
A blotto fantasia, on the rocks
Picture a man whose sole motivation is a bottle,
someone aimless and roaming in a dark forest of liquor,
a wolf on his track, brambles upon the path to his lover,
hunters lurking in tree stands, guns trained on this drunk
stumbling through thorny underbrush, in need of an angel
to guide him toward the shining, boozy beacon of ecstasy;
you can imagine when he lands on the spot, the ecstatic
guzzling of amber liquid—fluid of life—in the bottle
clean and glinting, its sloshing contents, his very own angel
promising relief and comfort, freedom from fear via liquor,
an escape from reality, imaginary threats. After he’s drunk
and satiated, the staggering and rolling: he’s never been so in love.
Nothing matters other than being smashed, his smashing beloved;
it’s a match made in heaven, the one true meaning, this ecstasy
of ethanol, forest now a seaside resort, conjured from the drink,
wonderland of waves, sun, salt, and suds, ships in a bottle,
even hunters morphed into mermaids, gesturing with liquor
from boulders in the undulating ocean, like pure angels.
It’s the promised land, he’s made it, and from every angle
it’s clear sailing with the Seven Sisters, a balmy day, so lovely,
in boats of booze, whiling away the time, answering liquor’s
siren call, forgetting past, present, and future, only this ecstasy
in his companion, his soulmate, enchanting inamorata in a bottle,
fulfilling every need and desire, which is only to be drunker
than the next lamo wobbling their way down an alley, drunk
as a skunk. Hold fast! he shouts, hold true! My darling angel
I’ll never leave you! He’s the chosen of the genie in the bottle,
he knows, never learning she always strands her unwitting lovers
on the rocks, battering and breaking them in sadistic ecstasy,
leaving them quivering, devoid of hope, of joy, of liquor—
and here he lays, once again, exposed in the sun, leaking liquor
out of every pore, buzz evaporating, no longer the drunken
sailor, baking on the crag like a crab out of water, ecstasy
turned agony, and then comes the chuckling albatross, no angel
saving him, but shitting on him as he keens for his lost love,
just a wretched tosspot withering in the glare, sans bottle.
And so his tryst with liquor ends, not with a perfect angel
blissfully drunk in his arms, but a thieving, maniacal lover,
pilfering his ecstasy, unhappily-ever-after, with a bottle.