breaking spirits

it is a suburban gathering
an occasion of rituals

the food is nibbl-ies
chips and nuts
cheese dip

drink is as you brought it
beer and spirits
the potency of pre-mixed sweet syrup
eskies against the wall for self-service
next to the container for empty cans
and a bin for sundry rubbish

the host and hostess are attentive
imposing an element of compulsion
to the drinking rites

have you got a drink

how much is left in your glass

do you want a re-fill

why are you drinking so slowly

are you piking on us

an outbreak of dance has occurred on the porch
enthusiastic gyration
to the greatest hits of the sixties
the seventies
the eighties
anytime you can imagine

they are a generational mixture
those approaching and beyond
a half century of years
and a smattering of their offspring
late teens and early twenties
pride is evident in the emulation of each others abilities
drinking in competition
none will be left behind this night
whole families can be proud

our man wanders away
the single
the loner
sits solitary beside the brazier
of grasping yellow-orange
holly-leaf flames
never still but so hungry
reaching to consume the darkness
threatening domination
so long as the fuel will last

he watches the small groups
filters the chatter of convergent conversations
through the too-loudness of music
notes the urgency of the drinking imperative
wonders what she is doing
if she is ok
whether he has done the right thing
chosen the best way
he tries to still the dancing flames
to see more clearly
examine the dynamic
to work out what it means

the host has found him
alone is not an acceptable state
the drink must be replenished
the party rejoined

by four in the morning
the retching has started
this too is part of the ritual
the logical conclusion
to a gladiatorial contest of physical stamina
against the known forces
of beer and spirits

the spirit appears to have been beaten at last
he feels slightly ill

© Frank Prem, 2002


7 thoughts on “breaking spirits

    • Hi Iseago,

      Fortunately it’s all a long while ago for me, but there can be a lot of pressure to drink, for sure.

      Thanks for stopping by and for commenting.

      I appreciate it.




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