Archive for the alcoholism Category

I Seem to be Taking a Break

Posted in addiction, alcoholic, alcoholism, anxiety, creative writing, sober, sobriety, social anxiety, Uncategorized, writing craft with tags , , , , , on December 5, 2017 by Robert Crisp

A break from creative writing, at least, and I’m good with that. It all started a few weeks ago when I received the weekly poetry market update newsletter from Duotrope. I scanned the list half-heartedly. The idea of going through poems to see which ones would be a good fit for a particular market made me tired. When I sat down to write, nothing came. I shrugged and moved onto other things.

I’ve been shrugging and moving on since then, and I’m not worried about it. I’ve spent many years in anxious turmoil over my writing, pressing myself beyond healthy limits to produce. When I turned thirty and hadn’t published anything, I went into a tailspin of depression. Ditto that for when I turned forty. Then I got sober, went into therapy, and discovered an effective combo of meds with the help of a wonderful psychiatrist. These days, if I skip a day or two of writing, that’s just the way it goes. I’m on the hunt for a full-time job, I’m raising two young children with my wife, and I have a lovely coterie of animals I care for. I have a full life. And I’m sober, to boot.

I’ve been thanking God lately, in particular, for the ability to let a particular story line go. I don’t mean fiction; I mean the story line of my life that dictates that I have to a Writer. The capital letter is important. I’m already a writer and always will be, but I’m also other things. Robert the Writer, though, is hyper-focused on getting published to the exclusion of other things. Rober the Writer won’t rest until he’s exhausted himself mentally and spiritually, racing to beat the clock, up against self-imposed deadlines. Also, Robert the Writer is a selfish bastard. I have no more use for him, so I’m letting that story line go (for more info on story lines and attachment, check out this article by Pema Chodron).

I couldn’t have been this kind to myself without getting sober, and I also imagine that I couldn’t have done it (sober or not) in my thirties due to a stunning lack of emotional maturity. Not that I’m a paragon of emotional maturity these days, but I’m a hell of a lot easier on myself than I used to be. I accept and deal with my anxiety which springs from a variety of sources, but I no longer give myself panic attacks for missing non-existant milestones in my life. I don’t have a book deal at 43? Fine. I only publish poetry on web-based journals? Cool. I can look at other aspects of my life and celebrate them and not dwell on things I thought I needed.

Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking of myself as more than just a writer. Currently, I prefer the term “creative.” I’m a creative. I write poems, stories, and songs. I draw cartoons. No matter where my life takes me, I’ll always find ways to express creativity. Writing this blog is another way.

So I’m going to take a break from creative writing because the still, small voice inside me says it’s time to. I spent many years ignoring that voice and drowing it with alcohol. These days, I do my best to listen to it.

That Time the Can of Paint Wasn’t Having It (poem)

Posted in addiction, alcoholic, alcoholism, creative writing, poem, Poetry, sober, sobriety, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , on September 30, 2017 by Robert Crisp

I’ve been sober for almost three years, and every now and then drinking and/or sobriety show up in my writing. When I first got sober, it was all I wrote about…mainly stories but a few poems, too. This poem is more or less based on a factual event (painting the dining room while drunk and doing a terrible job of it). It’s supposed to be funny, but I’m not sure if it is.

That Time the Can of Paint Wasn’t Having It

“You’re a bold motherfucker,”
the paint can told me one night
when I couldn’t sleep and grabbed
a brush, thinking I was the shit
and could paint the dining room.

“I’m drunk,” I told the paint can
and took another shot of courage,
as they say (whoever they are).

“Tell me something I don’t know,”
the paint can retorted and scooted
away, like I had a disease or something.
“You come anywhere near me, I’ll
explode and paint this room my way.”

I prayed to the god of Glidden, but
he wasn’t interested, and I implored
the god of Smirnoff, but he was three
sheets to the wind just like I was.

“Tomorrow,” I vowed and tossed the
brush at the paint can, who dodged it easily.
As I climbed back into bed in my hot room,
I heard mocking laughter, and I dreamed
of bare walls the color of absolutely nothing.

The Lizard’s Wish

Posted in alcoholic, alcoholism, creative writing, daily writing, poem, Poetry, surreal, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 3, 2017 by Robert Crisp

I’ve been following with keen interest the developments around the fast radio bursts from a part of the universe three billion light years away (and I’ve also given myself a headache imagining three billion light years). This poem came from all that pondering. Also, I’ve wanted to use Temecula, California in a poem for some time because I love the word “Temecula.” It sounds like a king of giant spiders. I understand the Native American origin, but I can so clearly see a kick-ass spider….

The Lizard’s Wish

A self-medicating lizard basks on
a sidewalk in Temecula, California.

He dreams he can still see the stars,
and relives infamous moments in time—

especially the one when aliens came
and the dinosaurs ate every single one.

He’s seen a lot, this lizard, and the
thousands of years have taken a toll.

His therapist, a chameleon who doesn’t
believe in reincarnation, worries about him.

His mother makes him fly-pies and cries
at night into tiny green throw pillows.

The lizard gazes up at the sky, wishing
the aliens would give it another go.


Gabrielle (flash fiction)

Posted in alcoholic, alcoholism, characters, creative writing, fiction, flash fiction, writing with tags , , , on December 29, 2016 by Robert Crisp

Earlier this morning, I read an excellent article about flash fiction and then wrote the following. Flash fiction isn’t one of my strengths, but I work on the craft from time to time.

“Are you a serious poet or not?” Gabrielle asked, leaning against me, having drank too much, having breathed in the dust of bad memories, hazy and crazy as her hair.

“No, I just fuck around on the page,” I said, half meaning it, half wanting to smack Gabrielle across the room. Of course I was serious, serious as the blood in my veins, coursing like a loping dog…that is, slower than I’d like for it to, because I’m getting older, as Gabrielle pointed out yesterday as we lay in bed after a mid-afternoon tryst. It was brief and brilliant, the memory of it still hanging in my chest and clear in my mind, not muddled a bit by her drinking, which you’d think I’d be used to by this point. Jesus.

“I’m a serious poet,” Gabrielle said and swayed over to sit on the piano bench. Don’t play, please, I said to her with my mind because sometimes she hears me. Not that time. She opened the keyboard cover and trailed her fingers down the keys. The sound set my teeth on edge and I nearly dashed over and grabbed her off the bench. Instead, I forced my muscles into stillness and listened to her horrible plunking of the keys and drunken nonsense.

“I’m going to publish a chapbook and you’re not,” Gabrielle said, the fingers of her right hand curling to strike a chord—F major, so it should have been her thumb, middle finger, and pinkie, but she fucked it all up and used her thumb, index, and finger finger, the latter of which slipped and so butchered the chord.

“Are you now?” I said.

“And it’s going to win some major fucking award and I’ll get an agent.”

“Poets like us don’t get agents, Gabrielle.”

She—my girlfriend of two years, my lover, my Lost Girl, my Burning Angel, the source of my hatred and long—smiled at me, her teeth stained with coffee, wine, cigarettes. “There’s no us when it comes to writing, you presumptive bastard,” she said. “It’s just me while you trail somewhere behind.”

Gabrielle wasn’t like this sober, which was less and less these days. I moved out of the room as she continued trying to play chords and mostly failing.

I poured the last of the wine down the sink and tried not to listen, which is kind of like trying to not breathe. The massacred notes bombarded the kitchen for a few minutes and then suddenly stopped. When I came back into the living room, I found Gabrielle curled up and sobbing on the sofa.

“Do you hate me?” she cried out as she slammed her hands against her head.

I wanted to…but I didn’t. I sat beside her and gathered her heaving form, cradled her like a child, whispered soothing things into her hair.

When she finally fell asleep later, I undressed her calmly, put her on pajamas, and tucked her into bed. Then I sat at the piano, playing songs from memory, knowing the sound wouldn’t come close to waking her.

Temporary Survivor (poem)

Posted in addiction, alcoholic, alcoholism, creative writing, poem, Poetry, sober, sobriety, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2016 by Robert Crisp

I haven’t had a drinking dream in quite some time (now watch me have them for a week straight), but I heard someone on a podcast discussing dealing with such dreams. I wasn’t consciously thinking about drinking dreams, but it was certainly banging around in my brain because this poem came to me as I was driving to work. This one needs some tweaking (I may settle on a rhyme scheme, which would be different) but I wanted to share it.

Temporary Survivor

She shook me hard, and I rose
like steam from the arena of my dreams
where I faced off with my father again.
Freud, who had season tickets,
shook his head and relit his pipe.

When I woke, I remembered I was drunk.
I was also on the roof and not in bed.
You slept through the flood, she said.
By flood, I replied, do you mean—
I mean the flood!

Other rooftops poked out from the water
like the tops of drowned heads.
I spied Gilgamesh waving to me from one.
All hope was not lost.

She thrust something at me.
I opened the crumpled ball and read:
What the fuck happened? I said meet at the ark.
You better hope reincarnation is real. – Noah

I found a bottle (I could always find a bottle)
and drank it down while she cried.
When it was empty, I lapped
at the water rising higher and faster.

Fear and Loathing in Twitterland

Posted in addiction, alcoholic, alcoholism, creative writing, Uncategorized, writing on March 21, 2016 by Robert Crisp

Since getting sober, I’ve pulled further and further away from social media. It started with checking in less frequently with Facebook, abandoning Instagram (which I rarely used, and never checked it after I posted a picture) and trying Tumblr for all of a day before giving that up (and we won’t mention my brief foray into Pinterest, which just left me feeling weird and somewhat creepy).

And now it comes to Twitter. I’ve tried using Twitter several times and never with any measurable success. By that, I don’t mean a big number of followers; I’m talking about meaningful interactions. I suppose that’s expecting too much from a social media platform. If I get nothing from Twitter, why Tweet?

I suppose I think it’s something I should do as a writer to expand my…I don’t know, circle of like-minded men and women? In the course of Tweeting and reading Tweets, maybe I’ll find a new journal to submit my work to?

I read an interesting article about poets and writers on Twitter, and that started me thinking that maybe it’s worth pursing. I refuse to put Twitter on my phone (same as Facebook and Instagram). My phone, smart though it is, is for calling folks,sending the occasional text to my wife, and playing music. That’s it. So I’ll only Tweet and read feed when I’m at the computer, where the order is: work, email, writing, and then–maybe, if there’s time–things like Twitter.

If the past is any predictor, I’ll be on Twitter for a few days before forgetting about it. In the meantime, if you’re really bored, you can check me out @writing4ghosts.


Anytime (poem)

Posted in addiction, alcoholic, alcoholism, creative writing, poem, Poetry, writing with tags , , , , , on March 11, 2016 by Robert Crisp

I believe poems should stand on their own merits and authors should never explain, but it’s hard not to make at least some commentary on this one. Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and John Berryman were all alcoholics. I’ll leave it at that.