Archive for the ‘alcoholism’ Category

Apparatus Magazine   Leave a comment

Jack Kerouac by photographer Tom Palumbo, circ...

Image via Wikipedia

http://www.apparatusmagazine.com/V1I10HelenPeterson.html

Apparatus Magazine published two of my poems in April, “Bargain Bin Blues” and “Jack and Me”.  Both poems really owe a lot to my life experiences, but both approach them from very different times in my life, and in different ways.

“Bargain Bin Blues” is all about the soundtrack of my college years in Lynchburg, Virginia. A lot of jam bands, Blues Traveler, Dave Matthews Band, and the campfires and freedoms of a person’s late teens and early twenties, where the rules are few, and so is the money. It doesn’t say in the poem, but the CD in question is the soundtrack for the film White Man’s Burden.

Where Bargain Bin riffs off of the musical soundtrack of my life, Jack and Me is all about the poetry that influenced me in the beginning, specifically that of the Beats. I was in love with Jack Kerouac in high school. Crazy dark-haired alcoholic mama’s boy is an acquired taste for some, but has been a type that has always gotten me into trouble. I blame Jack.

In Gerald Nicosia‘s critical biography Memory Babe, he relates a story about how Jack  at a young age would play a mental game with himself while riding in his father’s car, pretending to mow trees down, counting mailboxes, things like that. I would do the same thing. The character Galatea in On the Road was based on a woman named Helen. My Roman name in Latin class was Galatea. Freaky coincidences that don’t really mean much now, but to an easily swayed sixteen year old it was a sign from above, that I would be a writer. Not just a writer, but a Writer!!!!!

So, time changes everything. I got my dark-haired doe eyed drunk, and it was not a happy ending. Is it ever? I wrote a poem poking fun at myself a little, taking off the rosy glasses that romanticized the short life of a man who in the end was rather sad, and setting an expiration date for my life, many many years into the future. Stay tuned to see how that turns out.

Now it’s your turn. Has a childhood hero let you down? Have your ideals changed with time, wisdom, responsibilities and paychecks? Write about it, and let me know how it turns out.

Advertisements

Sugarpants: the Scrawl Blogazine   Leave a comment

http://www.stwa.net/blog/2010/08/13/drunk-poems-series-helen-peterson/

In my post about Poetic Diversity, I mentioned that I belonged to an online writers’ workshop. That forum, called Scrawl:The Writers’ Asylum, also runs a blog that showcases some of the work of the members.  Last month they posted a poem of mine called “When He is Drunk on Me” in a series of drunk poems by various poets.

Like most creative people when they get together, writers like to riff on one another’s work. Someone writes something, someone else draws on similar experiences, and writes something new. This can continue on with someone else, or the first person can build again on the second person’s work. You see this a lot with musicians, the guitar player puts some chords together, the drummer builds a back beat to carry it, the pianist weaves her own notes in and out. We do the same, just with words.

In this case, it started in a topical thread about what people do when they are drunk, mostly humorous anecdotes came out, but then one brilliant poet and all around wonderful person named Sue Miller posted that when she is drunk she thinks about Wyoming. Then she wrote a poem with a similar title, and posted it in the poetry workshop. From there others posted Drunk poems thinking about other places, and sometimes, like me, about other people.

For me, the word drunk is heavy with the regret of a failed marriage. Being the wife of a full-blown alcoholic meant that moments that should have been beautiful were tinged with ugliness.  It is not a happy poem, it is not a pretty poem. It rips off the scab, hard, and I almost didn’t want it to be posted in a public forum. I was afraid to allow a peek under the covers, so to speak, how people might change their perception of me, of him. But then I thought of the other women out there in the world who might have gone through similar experiences, of wanting to make love, hold their husbands close, feel loved. Instead, they gag on the fumes coming from his mouth, the dirty sweat, the blacking out. I thought, perhaps, it might help them if they come across this poem to know they aren’t alone, that it’s ok to feel disappointed with the way things have turned out.

I hope, as you read this poem, you don’t think less of me. I hope you can fall back on your own good experiences in love and romance, enjoy them, and never take them for granted.

Southword Journal   Leave a comment

http://www.munsterlit.ie/Southword/Issues/18/contents.html

Southword Journal is an online literary zine out of the Munster Literature Center in County Cork, Ireland. Landing a story there was huge for me, because they pay well, and because it was my first Irish publication.

Ireland, especially Dublin, has a special place in my heart, as it was the location of my honeymoon. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the marriage will survive, but my love for Dublin will never die. I’m a huge history buff, a bibliophile, so visiting the National Library and seeing the James Joyce exhibit, visiting the Book of Kells, nothing could have topped the thrill of that for me. Dublin is dripping with culture, good people, great food, and so it was a given that I would write it a love poem or two. This one, “The Honeymoon is Over”, morphed from a prose poem to more of a flash fiction piece. Some people will tell you there’s very little or no difference between the two, but, for me, the language I use in flash is more narrative, less descriptive than my prose poems, although if you follow me at all, you know that very rarely do I write anything that doesn’t have a hint of the narrative in it.

So, I wrote a love story to Dublin, and added around the edges a bittersweet, and very personal, tale of a marriage that was doomed from the start, cursed as it was with addiction and codependency on both sides. It’s a victory march, the beauty of letting go, moving on. So, in many ways, it’s not only a love story between a girl and a city, but a love story between a girl and herself as well.

How about you? Is there a place on the map that inspires you for whatever reason? Tell me about it, write about it with love, and discover some new things about yourself along the way.