VOICES FROM THE FIRE: George Gad Economou

Invisible Drunkard

as you hunker down on your stool and order PBR and Kentucky Beau,

look to your left, perhaps to your right, I’m on a stool drinking getting

disoriented, you’ll see a

shadow sitting there, nodding in

approval of your crude order and your 

frigid manners. a crazy old man, in something resembling a white sheet;

perhaps, he’s got effeminate features, maybe a couple of horns on the

forehead. he’s swilling down wine out of a jug, upon it stands


and the old entity can booze it up with the best of us. 

raise a toast to the shadow occupying your neighboring stool, it’s Dionysus 

still seeking revenge from Aristophanes for making him look like a fool

on Epidaurus’ hallowed grounds. Dionysus still drinks us all

under the goddamned table and still remains our god. when you

think you’re drinking with the Devil, it’s Dionysus in disguise.

in every empty bottle of tequila scattered around in your apartment, Dionysus’ spirit

resides, guffawing at all your felonious actions. when you drunk-called your

five exes demanding explanations for why they left your ass,

Dionysus pressed the damn call button. in every jug of Thunderbird, or Ripple,

or whatever’s your wine of choice, Dionysus is there, begging for a nip.

give in, drink with Dionysus; now, as you’ve settled on your stool, ready

for a long night of good drinking (of bad hooch), raise another toast

to him—let 

Dionysus accompany you, be your

drinking buddy; you might end up sandwiched by four delightful women, 

or in some dark alley mauled by rabid winos. either way, you won’t

remember it nor forget it.

come morning, he will remind you of what

you did when you go searching for the 

vicious dog that confused you for its chew toy.

Zealots in the Alleys

I still recall the fresh-faced youth 

that once peregrinated the alleys of my formative years;

when the glass-pipe and the drink were all I needed

after losing my true love and the passion to chase

my dragon-dream.

they were full of life, yet devoid of chances to make it, 

oozing wisdom (sort of) and quotes from inspirational “authors” 

and motivators; they had it all ready, written down,

the speeches meant to raise anyone from the gutter. 

I never listened to them; only when I was too stoned

did they talk to me, for I was almost unaware of their presence

and their words polluted my acid trips. 

it’s always the same, you hear it on the radio, on the tv, 

read it in the bad novels everyone buys; “never give up,”

“when you want something, the universe conspires in your favor,”

“I was down on my luck, yet I fought my way to the top.”

they all seem to forget that for anyone making it, 

there are about a million others that fail; 

for anyone that didn’t give up and succeeded,

there are ten million others that didn’t give up and were defeated nonetheless.

it’s what I used to say to the fresh-faced youth that thought

life was fair and the world theirs for the taking,

when the acid trip came to its end and I was back on Earth; 

they looked at me aghast, crestfallen, askance,

scratching their heads 

(trying to make a decent rebuke ooze out of their empty skulls),

until they gave up and went to the man lying next to me, 

sometimes with a needle in the arm, sometimes with a double-joint dangling from his lips. 

they were always free entertainment and 

we never really beat them up for it;

on occasion, they’d

poke the wrong bear and ambulances and cops

would storm our haven and we’d have

to leave and find someplace else to sit and drink and smoke and dream;

they’d find us there, too; it never fucking stopped. 

hopeful youth exist, dreamers 

always are born. some people just don’t give up

despite the odds against them.

others don’t care about the odds, give up from the get-go, yet

stubbornly continue doing the same thing over and over again, 

even if failure is coded in their genes.

Suicidal Nights

“people want to live,” she said. 

“not me,” I rebuked with a snicker. 

“no one likes to read about depression, unless it’s for ways to defeat it.”

“it’s in the blues you find strength to move forth.”

“you want to move down.”

“it’s where she waits.”

“fuck that.”

“fuck you.”

another Four Roses poured and the strange woman was swallowed

by the magnificent mist. 

fuck her, for badmouthing my Emily now hustling a poker game

with the Devil. 

the other stool remains empty, my drinking buddy has stopped gracing me

with his presence. one more lowball sank, another refill.

spiraling down blackout madness, the closest to death

a man can come. the effulgent darkness of nothingness.

“you’re gonna get drunk,” she yammered, still nursing her first glass of wine.

“that’s the point. drunk, I tolerate the world.”

“and me?”

“and you, yes.”

she got up and left; another date ended before the happy ending.

the barmaid rolled her eyes and gave me a refill on the house. 

“you’re gonna end up alone in a nuthouse.”

“think of the stories to be found there,” I winked and she giggled despite herself. 

down another glass went—long way to go for the coveted 19th. 

the record I shall one day break; young poets now drink Red Bull and

think their flowery lines have meaning. 

the ghost settles on the stool; let’s bite some ankles off, then

joke about the hair of dogs. 

bottle, and record, in reach and if it’s to be the last night on this planet, 

it’s gonna be all right.

Drunk Memories

starting with beer in the early morning means

one thing: spending a day (or a week, or a month, 

or even a goddamn lifetime) of remembering the

insignificant things (and people) that somehow

stigmatized your life momentarily.

during drunken reminiscence, they come back,

not to haunt you, (oh, no, they fucking wish)

but to remind you how life was, and

how life is; how it’ll be.

you swig beer after beer, not even realizing

you tumble down the pathway of memories, until they all

hit you like a runaway train

fueled by cocaine,

and you are stranded on a foreign beach, wondering,

what the fuck did just happen?

you see old photographs, recalling smiles and eyes

that once, for a brief moment, haunted your life, then

they disappeared and life still made perfect sense. 

you want to go back, to them, to how things were: 

when everything was simple. you wish to go back to caring

about insignificant people, as long as it means

a life without responsibilities and anxiety.

you choke down another beer—realizing your grave mistake.

nothing remains standing; you are dead,

the insignificant people live on, and you draw a breath of dirt to chase

waterglass of vodka. 

you’re more alive than they’ll ever be, you don’t get it;

I do, now. 

it’s alright; swig the next drink down, 

drown the fucking memories, let them sink into the well

of forgotten memories. 

around you, nothing’s alive; death, destruction, desolation.

let it pour in, screw those that once came—or, maybe, they came 

ten times. it doesn’t matter.

you drink. I drink. 

we all drink—those that somehow, someway matter.

dives remain alive because of us.

someone once tried to break the connection; fuck’em.

another bottle cracked open; another bottom to be searched for answers.

nothing remains standing, not even what we all considered sturdy and invincible.

death in the dry bottom;

life in the empty bottle;

somehow, someway, we’ll fucking make it.

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