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Poetry

Releasing My Demons Once More


15 years without a single drop
I’m not sure if anyone ever believed
That it was that complete
But not a single drop

Except for Raki after a meal in Crete
But they
Wouldn’t take no
For an answer

All that time
And I really enjoyed it
Saying no was easy
And it felt good

I’d forgotten why I stopped
Hard to remember really
I couldn’t give a good reason anymore
As to why I didn’t

People presumed I had a problem
I created back stories that were great fun to tell
And far more interesting than the truth
Which was that I enjoyed not drinking
More than drinking.

I had three main back stories
The most straightforward took just five minutes
And included an accident in a public place
And a degree of public embarrassment

The most elaborate took twenty three minutes to tell
And involved a jacuzzi, a Bahraini sex worker, two transvestites and a large quantity of cakes.
And included an accident in a public place
And a degree of public embarrassment

I remember the clear head
The mornings waking freshly alert
And that was a big part of why I stayed stopped
But It wasn’t why I stopped

There were things I missed though
Most of all, I missed the excuse
Whatever you do after a drink
There’s always a degree of understanding

But when you don’t drink
Everything you do – Everything you say
You’re held fully responsible
By yourself as much as others

So 15 years on
I’d run out of reasons not to have a drink
So
I had a drink

I’ll never forget just how great it felt
Those first few drinks
Savouring every last drop
Feeling the impact after a single sip

It seemed that I’d been wrong
For more than 15 years
It seemed that I enjoyed drinking
More than not drinking

It made me feel alive
And it made me feel more normal
It lifted me from the world and all of it’s worries
Just a little bit perhaps.  But I felt lifted.

And yet
And yet
And yet
And yet it started to change
Slowly
Subtly even
But it started to change

Having one every now and again
Became having one every night
And having one every night
Became having a few every night

From a position of total control
To one of diminishing control
And from one of diminishing control
To occasions with no control at all

The enjoyment diminished
In inverse proportion
To the drive
That compelled me to excess

That drive
That drive that is most definitely not new
But that I’d forgotten

There was always something more
Something that I’d hidden
From myself
As much as from the world

I now realise
That this isn’t new
I now accept
That this was why I stopped in the first place

And now I’ve let them in once more
My demons kicking in
Reclaiming the power
Denied to them for so long

(C) Michael Gurner 2019


Photo by Oleg Magni

Another one written for Scribal Gathering and one that had been bubbling around in my head for some time.

One would never want to admit to a poem like this being autobiographical, but suffice to say that if I were to write a poem about my relationship with alcohol, it would end up looking very similar to this.

Michael Gurner April 2020

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