I D K     I S S U E     5


sarah a. chavez

Dear Carole, You’d be impressed by all the things I can do drunk

Like just now, I made tomorrow’s lunch,
cleaned a litter box and made the bed; all
dexterous an’ shit. No fumbling or dropping.
Even the sheet corners are tight. 

Remember how you used to have a Zima,
I’d have a Corona and we thought
we were pretty awesome, but also knew
those were the drinks that would never
make us drunk? We knew drunks; that was
the last thing we wanted. We knew
meth heads with shaved-bone noses,
crack heads with gapping
toothless mouths, dopey-eyed pill-poppers,
and no-license-having-but-drove-
just-the-same drunks. Losers all of them,
but we still tried to fit in,
telling ourselves they were better
than nothing, and we’re better
than them. And that’s the thing
about being around the intoxicated,
they hardly notice shit; I’d sip
off that one Corona for hours, they’d think
it was my third. It’s easy to act drunk,
just laugh as much as you wish
you always could, say the mean shit
you already think and they will
be amused. Because when
you’re drunk, it’s funny.

Drunk didn’t happen for real
until the 55-year old night manager
at the restaurant, staring hard
at our asses, asking if we had boyfriends
started plying the young waitresses
with free beer while we mopped
the L-shaped floor of the dining room.
And who was there to tell me
I wasn’t just a piece of ass, a worthless
bitch doing nothing with my days
but working and crying. You are nowhere
and so am I, and put enough
beer in your system and who knows
who you’re kissing. And then not sure
where you’re walking. Eventually, I skin my knees
on the cobble-stone steps to my apartment, glad
for the blood that’ll leave
a trail back to where I dropped my keys.

And not only could I stumble home
in the dark, pockets full of cash tips, I could
drive across town, knock on that guy’s window,
the one from the café who asked
to take my picture. And when he opens the door,
I know he’ll never be you, and the drunk
makes it okay, makes the feel of his hands
transcendent, like my body is caught
in the limbo between the living and the dead.
It’s not that I want to be dead, just
that I’m tired and who cares, really? Not him
or him or her. Each night I made it home
was an unwelcome miracle. Each
safe morning, my car just slightly askew
in the parking lines, as if nothing happened,
an invalidation of my piecey memory.
I didn’t ask for this, you used to say
about nothing in particular.
I never agreed with you then,
but I do now.


Sarah A. Chavez, a mestiza born and raised in the California Central Valley, is the author of the poetry collections Hands That Break & Scar (Sundress Publications, 2017) and All Day, Talking (dancing girl press, 2014), selections of which were awarded the Susan Atefat Peckham Fellowship. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in the anthologies Xicanx: Mexican American Writers of the 21st Century and Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzalduan Borderlands as well as the journals Pretty Owl Poetry, Atticus Review, Brevity, North American Review, and The Fourth River Tributaries Series, among others. She recently joined the faculty at the University of Washington Tacoma where she teaches creative writing and Latinx/Chicanx-focused courses. She serves as the poetry coordinator for Best of the Net Anthology and is a proud member of the Macondo Writers Workshop.