Aidan Chafe

Issue 19

Epistle of the Inebriate

I went to the worst of bars

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxto drink with the other animals,

xxxxlifted the glass to my mouth

and I drank deeply, I drank so deeply.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxMy head neolithic,

river of speechless current,

listening to the in-between despite the abyss at the edge of the table.

xxxxxxxxxxxxAs the empty cans dropped out of our paws

something caught inside our throats was released—some old grief,

xxxxxxxxxxxxsprung from the head of a thousand-fisted wretch.

Vomiting it all up on Pearse Street,

xxxxxxxxxxxxtossing off expletives into the sea of cab lights,

xxxxxxxxleaning on one another, too tired to go home.

Source & Method

This is a cento, a poetic mash-up. Each verse line is taken from a line of a particular poet. These are the source poets in order of appearance: Charles Bukowski, Laura Cronk, W.B. Yeats, Jerry Williams, sam sax, Jenny Xie, Pablo Medina, Tony Hoagland, Lee Upton, Safiya Sinclair, Lani O’Hanlon, Wendy Xu, and Hayden Carruth.

Aidan Chafe is the author of the poetry collection Short Histories of Light (McGill-Queen’s University Press). His work has appeared in numerous literary journals in both Canada and the U.S. He lives on unceded Musqueam Territory (Vancouver, BC).

Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash