dead drunk dublin and other imaginal spaces
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( o n e   o f   m a n y   p r e l u d e s )

b y    R o b e r t   B o h m

Bending over, Chugger, unshaven as usual, big
gut flopping almost to the ground, drags
the manhole cover -- it makes
a loud grating sound -- across macadam, away
from the opening as I turn over
in my sleep, suddenly
waking up, undershirt soaked with sweat, head
hurting from the noise, which is when, remembering
a scream, I ram the floorlamp, base
end first, through
the closed window, glass fragments falling, indications
of the cold that will come
in a few months,
on the porch roof. After taking
a swig of water from the paper cup, I show
up hours later, drugged in the hospital
with Chugger standing over me, saying
“They need you at work to fill
potholes,” and I can tell he’s drunk again, days
of stale booze on his breath as Aaron
back from Lao Cay arrives holding
a bag of walnuts, his little girl Rachel, arms
wrapped around his legs, whining, “I keeps
hearing him, daddy, he dragging a big oildrum long the sidewalk clankety clinkety clankety, someone’s
gonna come up to him an . . .”
My Uncle Bill appears in the doorway.
“You better fucking get outa bed and dress up
for church!” he orders, then wipes
the spittle off his mouth.
I fall asleep, wake up, no one’s
in the house.
My underclothes, still wet.
This goddamn roadwork won’t ever end
I think, the July sun-
flowers large enough to flog
a panicked baby into
blooddrenched silence with. Chugger, his
beer belly flabby but his upper body nonetheless
brutally strong, raises
the manhole cover above his head and laughs.



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