by Matt Schumacher
shiduri, divine alewife, serves ethereal beer
at the tavern which rests between life and death.
seeing both living and dead breeze through these doors,
they lure gilgamesh into a bet:
if they can outdrink the assyrian king,
the gods must restore the primordial world.
the famed monarch embarks. his first sip sucks in rivers and creeks.
half out of fear, the miraculous alcoholics take a breath
then swallow the great deep. gilgamesh feels disbelief.
he pounds down rainclouds, gulps the gods’ great tears.
the miraculous alcoholics tip the ark like a glass
and chug the primeval flood. utnapishtim laughs on dry land
as the king surpassing all kings passes out and sleeps.
our drinkers bask in liquid victory.
as hungover as those just deposed or usurped,
the dazed ruler of uruk awakens the next day,
sets sail beyond all ends with his new friends:
the stone boatmen row them across the waters of death.
the scorpion people show them the tunnel to the gods,
who let them view space and time be remade.
the miraculous alcoholics stride through
the pristine cedar forest at sunrise,
drinking in the new world,
enkidu, humbaba, and the bull of heaven at their side.