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Don’t Get Drunk Friday: A Poem

This is a poem by Mary Oliver that a reader turned me on to. I think it’s beautiful and sums up the feelings of many of us. Next week I will post a new story.

The Journey:

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Pretty cool, huh? Feel free to leave your favorite song or poem or book that’s helped you through rough early sobriety. One of mine is the Tracy Chapman song, Change. I also love the book Drinking: A Love story by Carolyn Knapp.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on August 6, 2010 6:52 pmDon't Get Drunk Friday10 comments  

10 Comments

  1. Willow said,

    I don’t have a problem with alcohol but this poem touches me for other reasons. Thank you for sharing it.

    | August 6, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

  2. Kitty Shannon said,

    I’m reading “Dry” by Augusten Burroughs right now and it’s fantastic. I just finished “Lit”, by your 20/20 buddy, Mary Karr. That’s also great. You can borrow both of them when I’m finished. Let’s hit another meeting when I get back to LA!

    | August 7, 2010 @ 12:46 am

  3. Sarah said,

    Beautiful poem. Thanks for sharing! I like this song, “Ill with Want” by the Avett Brothers. Heard it shortly after I got sober and found some personal meaning in its lyrics.

    I am sick with wanting and it’s evil and it’s daunting
    How I let everything I cherish lay to waste
    I am lost in greed, this time it’s definitely me
    I point fingers but there’s no one there to blame

    A need for something, now let me break it down again
    A need for something but not more medicine

    I am sick of wanting and it’s evil how it’s got me
    And every day is worse than the one before
    The more I have the more I think I’m almost where I need to be
    If only I could get a little more

    A need for something, now let me break it down again
    A need for something but not more medicine

    Something has me, oh something has me
    Acting like someone I don’t wanna be
    Something has me, oh something has me
    Acting like someone I know isn’t me
    Ill with want and poisoned by this ugly greed

    Temporary is my time, ain’t nothing on this world that’s mine
    Except the will I found to carry on
    Free is not your right to chose
    It’s answering what’s asked of you
    To give the love you find until it’s gone

    A need for something, now let me break it down again
    A need for something but not more medicine

    Something has me, oh something has me
    Acting like someone I don’t wanna be
    Something has me, oh something has me
    Acting like someone I know isn’t me
    Ill with want and poisoned by this ugly greed
    Ill with want and poisoned by this ugly greed
    Ill with want and poisoned by this ugly greed

    | August 7, 2010 @ 12:49 am

  4. Kendra said,

    That was really beautiful. There is something profoundly touching–and probably familiar to a lot of people–about the idea of trying to listen to your own voice.

    | August 7, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

  5. seekingclarav said,

    Great poem, thanks for posting it. I’m finding that I relate my addiction to some love songs. Love and lust and desire. Staying with someone (or something in my case) even though you know it is unhealthy, all that good stuff.

    I too loved Caroline Knapp’s book. I gave it to my sister who is also sober and the thing we both said to each other about it is “oh my god, the first few chapters made me want a drink so bad…” but of course, as you read on it all changes.
    seekingclarav´s last blog post ..How do you spell rollercoaster

    | August 7, 2010 @ 9:34 pm

  6. Kir said,

    it’s gorgeous, thanks for sharing!!!!
    Kir´s last blog post ..Perfect Moment Monday- The Ladies and NYC

    | August 9, 2010 @ 4:48 pm

  7. Ellie said,

    What a beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing it.

    It reminds me of a poem a reader left in my comments once, one I treasure and read often:

    The Oak Tree
    by Johnny Ray Ryder Jr

    A mighty wind blew night and day
    It stole the oak tree’s leaves away
    Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
    Until the oak was tired and stark

    But still the oak tree held its ground
    While other trees fell all around
    The weary wind gave up and spoke.
    How can you still be standing Oak?

    The oak tree said, I know that you
    Can break each branch of mine in two
    Carry every leaf away
    Shake my limbs, and make me sway

    But I have roots stretched in the earth
    Growing stronger since my birth
    You’ll never touch them, for you see
    They are the deepest part of me

    Until today, I wasn’t sure
    Of just how much I could endure
    But now I’ve found, with thanks to you
    I’m stronger than I ever knew
    Ellie´s last blog post ..The Company You Keep

    | August 9, 2010 @ 9:44 pm

  8. Ellie said,

    I thought of one other quote that helps me a lot, by Pema Chodron (you can download her talks from iTunes – she is a Buddhist Monk and she is so inspiring to me).

    “To stay with that shakiness—to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge—that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic—this is the spiritual path.” ~Pema Chodron
    Ellie´s last blog post ..The Company You Keep

    | August 9, 2010 @ 9:48 pm

  9. heather said,

    this poem gives me strength:

    Recovery

    A Last love,
    proper in conclusion,
    should snip the wings
    forbidding further flight.
    But I, now,
    reft of that confusion,
    am lifted up
    and speeding toward the light.

    -Maya Angelou

    | August 16, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

  10. Cheryl said,

    Lovley, lovely, lovely. Carolyn Knapp’s book is an amazement…I’d forgotten all about it til your mention here….will need to re-read.

    Thanks for the reminder, and for your wondrous words.
    Cheryl´s last blog post ..The Dog Days of Winter

    | August 21, 2010 @ 12:57 am

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