I don’t know what he thinks.

Does he think nobody notices?

Does he think he acts the same?

It’s always a secret,

he never lets us see him drink.

He’s good about that.

But does he not understand

the resulting change?


It’s always just one night.

One long night as his cheeks and nose

redden, long hours as he loses

his senses and becomes more sensitive;

Never to the point where you could prove that he was drunk

Often to the point where you could tell.

He picks faux fights for fun,

tickles more,

sings louder,

rambles longer,

angers easily,

And it hurts my heart to see it.

But I cannot say a word

when he is not in the state to listen.

He lumbers around, accuses more, feels more accused

until curling up to watch my movie on the couch talking throughout,

eyes squinting when he comments and snarkily cackles

at the joke that wasn’t funny

until he falls asleep.

I have peace in knowing that my witness will be bared but on this night

and not again soon.


But it has been three days;

it is a constant state,

and every time I think it is ending

his silliness strikes.

It was like this when I was eight,

shortly after his father my Papa died.

It’s been better for years,

only one night at a time.

But it has been three days

and he has woken my sister with shouting at my mother

and I hear as he, offended, cries out that she accused him

and I see as she walks away straight faced

that it hurts her heart as well.

That this is not a part of the reason she loves him.


My grandma is dying.

I think that’s why.

He broke down crying in the car

when I drove him home on Thanksgiving

because my grandma’s not the same

and his brothers didn’t talk to her in the corner with her oxygen tank.


Cancer bit both his parents

and it makes me want to cry

because this family’s habits, like these three days,

will inflict the same illness upon his liver

And my mom and my sisters and I

will have to see his same painful dying

And I pray that I won’t drink.


It has been three silly shouting accusing overly emotional days

where the rest of my family, still with their senses,

pretends that he is the same

and right now he is on the couch watching my sister’s movie

and in a few minutes he will fall asleep

and I hope I pray not in vain

that it will only be three.


This poem is about: 
My family


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