No whiskey in the house tonight,
so I step outside into October.
And down the street, on foot,
I am snared by the scents of curry
and Mountain Fresh dryer sheets
and the lingering mesquite
still warm on a charcoal grill.
It used to be difficult to put on
lace-up shoes and call it exercise,
but it’s become an alternative
to all those things that need doing,
and has become as compulsory
as the evening prayers of popes.
Nights like this I think of Hemingway
and his denial that he drank
when he wrote, which seems
almost unfortunate when you consider
his bone dry Old Man and the Sea.
How did it happen that his name
is the one we remember—
when thirteen years earlier,
Richard Llewellyn penned a novel
so intoxicating, each page was a libation
to the god of poetry and prose!
How Green Was My Valley
is a book worth staying sober for.
It made beautiful the mundane life—
like the one I walk out on sometimes
when I leave the house in spirit or on foot.
But I am always home and fully present
by the time the a.m. alarm sounds off,
and I wake to the gift of another round.
“Nellie Lake,” 1933
by A.Y. Jackson