Conversation With Patti

With 28years of sobriety between us Patti and I talk about our lives with and without alcohol, getting sober with young children, within marriages and navigating a demanding career. We talk about consequences and circumstances that led us to sobriety and the lives that we led since. We talk about shame, friendship, poetry, and the adventures we’ve had – and remember! – in sobriety.

Below are her words describing part of her journey.

Sudden Death

Sudden death is a ruthless game.
Church-singing-smiling one day,
brain-tumor-dead the next.
Of course Pat didn’t look quite herself
in the coffin.
They never do.
But the snapshot beside her
in that same elegant gown, twirling,
arms outstretched,
a veritable Ginger Rogers
at her daughter’s wedding
is proof that this stoic face is really her.
The line of mourners is long – an hour or more.
Emotionally and physically parched,
I’ll join a few that gathered after
to remember her
and toast to her life.
Three times…
I lost count.
In an instant my universe imploded.
How does an eggshell survive when the carton is crushed?
This thought would not enter my foggy brain until
the next day upon viewing the wreckage
and reading the accident report.
The two young gentlemen I so elegantly struck
Were barely 17.
And beautiful.
And unharmed.
Thank you (god?)
I imagine Pat must have been checking out the church
for her funeral the next morning.
Making sure the flowers were arranged just so.
and when I drove by she just reached out to the street
to nudge me into the other lane…
while she kept the cargo safe.
Just enough to give me
a big fucking message.

I looked death in the eye twice yesterday.
I blinked.
Chardonnay and Killians
mixed with Chivas
and Jose Cuervo
looks distinctly like piss
when it swirls down the drain
and doesn’t smell much better.
Hi. My name is Patti. I am an alcoholic.



no, you cannot go today
not while you still gaze
upon the goddess
and sob visions
of dew dancing
sorrowful through
goldenrod gardens
though only ghosts of tears
grace your face,
languid language tears
drip freely from your pen
so you cannot go,
not while
fable rainbows bleed
from your brush
in happy lion orange
and zebra purple praise
you cannot go today,
for the world is not
ready to be



It’s a slower mode of going,
renders you incapable of towing
unnecessary cargo.
Plan to plot your path with purpose,
pace your journey’s stride as if a tortoise,
your thoughts slow with the tempo.
Drum feet slap to breathing’s rhythm,
rustled trees decide on singing with ‘em,
a symphony of wind rhymes.
From the crack of dawn to sundown
once I walked up Half Dome’s peak and ran down,
a triumph of a past prime.
Twelve short rises run this stairflight,
Start at dawn, you know you’ll need the daylight.
Feet one by one climb lifetimes.

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