Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

House Fire

By Donney Rose

On some occasions
when I’m out baptizing my liver
with cheap spirits
I catch “the ghost”
of my father’s alcoholism
haunting my face
those bar bathroom mirrors
show me just how much
I have inherited
his blood shot eyes

Sometimes I smell smoke
and it’s not the stench
of minutes burning
as I take down shot
after screwdriver
it’s my nose remembering
itself at seven years old
when my family
coughed our way out
of a smoke-filled house
after dad’s six pack
gave him permission to nap
while the meat
burning on the stove
sparked a flame
that almost reduced us
to ashes

But I am not my father
I am a much smarter drunk
I only indulge socially
as a means to take off the edge
and have a good time
this isn’t addictive behavior
look how in control I am
I’m smiling
and laughing
and hugging you tighter than usual
look how much love
I have to give
I’m so self-assured
look at all the fucks
I refuse to give

I’m an amusement park
look at how amused you are
I’m not sure why this room
is carouseling so quickly
but I know that I’m
the amazing wobbly man
cannon balling into
everything I swore
I’d never become
look how fun I am
look how much I’m opening up
this drink might be 40 proof
but my pride requires no chaser
look at how easily these demons
catch up to me

Look, I’m sleeping in the corner, again
look, I’m arguing with you
about driving myself home
hey look, I’m sorry for cursing at you
last night
and last week
and the last time
you had to pull me
away from myself

I usually wake up hungry
and dry-mouthed
with a bar receipt
that disagrees with
my bank statement
a chiseling inside my head
and a stomach like a
pulled fire alarm
signaling for everything to exit

I don’t have a problem
I also don’t have an answer
I can stop socializing
wheneverrrr I want
I just like having fun
sometimes it’s good
to just let go
I know
it’s stupid to think
I can use distilled lighter fluid
to put out the house fire

burning inside of me
but you can all leave now
I will make it out just fine