Nora Hickey



These are the days of hangovers: the hammer smell of bathroom cleaner, the skin in retreat.

When I'm drunk, I translate the weather into language: rain is full of expletives. Snow the wishes of ghosts (dead grandparents).

I smoke 10,000 cigars. All the O's I blow look old. The subtext is I want to take off your clothes.

One night your body will handle the air like your mouth—a dream of intuition.

When I'm drunk the windows of all the bars tell a red story. The street is so horizontal it's radiant.



Then I stepped outside and I was my own sun rotting in my own sky.

When I'm drunk, the alleys are a sea of glass. The dumpsters gift me all their shining cans.

But it's so simple, what I want to tell you: it's in the wooden frame in front of you! It's the cars coming down through the trees! The brake lights in the distance. The oak that looks dead but breathes.

Three deer jumping. I've never killed a thing, except my liver har har har. Yes, I'll have another, lighter on the deer please.

When I'm drunk, the seed pods on the stalks by the river are sparrows. They are so still. They dilate into darkness.



Here was a clearer hunger: the secrets of humanity?

When I'm drunk, the region is alive with warmth. I mean, the province binds me to its breast. No, what I'm trying to say is that there are so many people. Their tenderness.

Let's talk about the avian flu. Let's talk about my parent's divorce. Let's talk about Neil Young; fuck! he gives me a nosebleed. Let's talk about love. Let's talk about the seeds of light in the sky. Let's talk about the end.

My body is a mumble in the twilight; white bags of waste smell so sweet. I believe myself fanatical for most things.

When I'm drunk, I remember a history—Jack and Rosemary, Margaret and James. The poet grandparents tell me my nostalgia is cell deep; the past, a wound. 



Stay in the psychic sweat of it. Enter this soft trauma.

When I'm drunk, herpes sounds like a beautiful French lace. Syphilis—the name of his great aunt.

I saw the snow and its epiphany. I feel sorry for the tongues of mothers. The white—an erasure.

My family born in Ireland. My cellar full of root and gin. My ovaries growing green in the body. I think I feel them beating. I think I feel them rooting me to the past.

When I'm drunk, you are so stunning. You smell like vanilla and vomit. You open up like some delicate flower—lavender hyssop, beardtongue, red milkweed.



And the vague hopelessness turned pretty acute.








On a trip home, I was drinking a Schlitz, then a Blatz, then a Hamm's, and wanted to write what it felt like to be drunk, then sober, in Milwaukee.