The Merry Drinker
Ruddy cheeked, boozy with tattered vest
and barely balanced glass of genever gin,
he extends a shaky hand to say:
“Since you’ve bought my last drink,
I’ll tell you of places I’ve been,
the Amsterdam whores I’ve known,
the Spaniards I’ve killed
as a soldier of Orange,
with blunderbuss and sword.”
He’s into the tavern from wintry cold,
staggering along snow-fringed canals,
seeking alms from passersby,
scraps of food tossed out for dogs.
Wall-eyed and thin,
he lives for his next drink,
hoping to sleep it off inside,
not on the cobblestone streets,
puking up blood in the gutter,
possessed by demons and ghosts
of comrades long since gone.
This poem first appeared in Yolo Crow.
Charles Halsted is a retired academic physician at the University of California Davis who has been writing poetry for several years.
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