Doreen left – her parting shot:
She blew a kiss that smelled of sick.
She drank too much, for sure, but not
As much as you, you daft old dick.
Hand on heart, you swore and swore:
Just one more drink and then I’ll stop.
I won’t touch spirits any more.
Tomorrow I won’t touch a drop.
It’s sad to see a man so clever
Think such optimistic stuff
As One day soon I’ll quit forever,
One more drink and that’s enough,
When every drink demands another,
Whets your hunger for the next,
Till father, sister, mother, brother,
Grow more distant and perplexed.
Before the booze, you rode a bike.
You loved the Lakes: the Autumn smell
Of long wet grass on Sheffield Pike
Or dark wet soil by Birker Fell,
And how you loved an early start!
The smell of soap; the morning air;
The happy drumming of your heart;
The wind like water in your hair!
Now Doreen (drunk) once said she’d like
To do that trip with you one day.
You swore you’d find and fix your bike.
You vaguely planned to get away.
You never did. You’ll never loop
The Skiddaw Loop, or thunder on
That Old Coach Road. You’ll never troop
From fell to fell now Doreen’s gone.
It’s funny how an empty flat
Still gathers noise: the ticking clock;
The humming fridge; the neighbour’s cat;
A key in someone else’s lock;
And then the sound – the glassy chink! -
Of something being opened, poured.
What melody we make of drink
In absence of a better score!
You circle back to alcohol.
Inside yourself you disappear.
Each bottle is a Russian Doll;
Inside each beer, another beer.
If you could wave a magic wand
You’d summon up the strength to choose
What brighter worlds there are beyond
This squalid flat – beyond all booze -
Beyond the bottom of the glass
That grips you, to the mighty swell
Of Scafell Pike – or Kirkstone Pass -
To Castle Crag, or Carrock Fell.