Sunday, May 17, 2009

after martha's graveyard

springs, new york, april 1949. photograph by martha holmes.

de•lir•i•um tre•mens |ˌtriːmɛnz| |ˌtrɛ-|

a psychotic condition typical of withdrawal in chronic alcoholics, involving tremors, hallucinations, anxiety, and disorientation.

ORIGIN early 19th cent.: from Latin, ‘

untitled, 1951; ink on paper.

A smell of sea, salt
water on your lips.
You open your mouth and
it all comes tumbling out.
A torrent of delirium,
tiny truths drowning in
the hollows of your cheek;
the eddies between teeth.

The paddle steamer ran aground.
The tourists have all gone home.
And all the while you speak of it,
a slip and clack of stones.

Six paint pots lined up empty,
bedsheets soiled with sweat.
And sleep does not come easy
in those early hours between
the 60 watt bulb burning - or
four digits faintly glowing -
and the exhausting ring of
retching; regurgitating drips.

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