Dance of the Drunkard (Poem)


by Stephen Embleton

Pas seul they step out into the night,

A solo dance for a lone urbanite.

Eyes glazed and dazed with disorient.

Behind them fades sounds of merriment.

The dark path ahead holds a chilly bite.

A wallet made light. But a mobile holds weight.

Its cold bright screen holds texts gone bad.

No friends to hail, no ride-share to wait,

Tentative forefinger held over keypad.

A pang of sorrow, a flutter of guilt

Reminders of the burning bridges they built.

They click closed their screen and pocket the brick.

A tug at their coat a reassuring trick.

But little will quell the well of seasick.

Their world is askew, blearily eyed askance.

They’re onto the pavement, and ready to dance.

Wallowed and willowed in unending lament.

Dripped and drunk down to the cent.

No partners remain for the promenade stance.

A chassé to sidestep invisible foes,

Opposing forces jab at their will.

Imagined adversaries the cause of their woes,

Now the horizon has tilted as if up a hill.

Braver than before, not to be upstaged.

Charging at windmills and screaming outraged.

Enemies be damned for was not everyone their friend?

Or were those patrons forced to pretend?

Distracting emotions feel the ground upend.

A heel-turn to pivot or a rond de jambe

Senses contorted, alive yet numb.

Hands and feet are uncontrolled.

The concrete is hard, gritty and cold.

The thud of a drum tells of the pain to come.

Skin that’s usually able to take a slap,

Tingles on fire as the adrenalin hits.

Ego is controlled and not allowed to snap.

But no audience applauds, and no hilarious fits.

Surroundings are quiet, no one bore witness.

The flap, the flail, a bird quite flightless.

Alone he fell down, elephantine.

Nothing new, the same old routine.

Raises a finger in a signal obscene.

The fall and the bump they will not recollect

But it’s the damage done and the aftereffect.

By morning the bruise and mood will turn grey.

The scrape and the scab will not wash away.

More than skin deep will they introspect?

All manageable yet out of control.

The bliss was fleeting. Now paradise lost.

Onto their knees they pivot and roll.

A price to stand, dignity the cost.

A sway, a trot, a near tumble and fumble.

Something is missing, they let out a grumble.

Slapping at pockets, patting their coat.

Their keys are absent and no gate remote.

They suck in some air and burp from the bloat.

A glint is spotted on the pavement floor

The means to unlock their bolted front door.

Foot aloft, toes pointing in its direction,

The inert item ready for collection.

Choreography swooping like a matador.

They plunge and lunge, they scrape their nails.

Like maracas they rattle and pocket the keys.

This is what the perpetual dance entails.

Familiar steps but with idiosyncrasies.

Repeating a pattern is clearly insane.

Momentum is low and energies wane.

The same old style, the lack of grace.

A bold self-image but feeling disgrace.

The day will dawn, they’ll have to save face.

Our lives may weave and twirl and leap.

But life can lift us and drop us down deep.

The dance of the drunkard is more than a scene.

It’s emotions repressed and turmoil unseen.

Support is a partner that comes so cheap.

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