Light and Liquor

This poem was first published in the 2014 HWA Poetry Showcase Volume I, an anthology by the Horror Writers Association. I have another poem, “Fiend,” in this year’s collection, Volume II, as well. You can buy the ebook for $2.99 on Amazon and add the book to your Goodreads shelves!


Light and Liquor

By the time I’d make it to the mine,
well before the sun rose every morning,
I was tired and thirsty.
I worked all day like the devil sat
right here on my shoulder,
and sunlight was gone by the time
I came out of that Hell.
I used to tell my wife, “Honey,
when I die, don’t bury me.
Place me above ground
so I can finally see the light.”
I thought she knew I meant it.

By the time I’d get home each night,
the only thing that could cut
the film of mine-water from my tongue
was a sharp, cold quaff of liquor.
After two or three, I’d lean back,
cross my coal-stained hands on my belly,
and say, “Honey, when I die,
stash a little bottle in there with me,
won’t you?” I thought she knew
I wasn’t kidding.

Lungs and liver failed at once,
put me out of my misery…
but now I’m down here in this hole,
alone, buried in darkness—
just like when I was alive—
and the wood sags with moisture
and things worm through damp dirt
and water drips on my shriveled skin,
and damn, but I’m thirsty.

© Annie Neugebauer, 2010.


This post is part of my All Hallow’s Read Giveaway! For full contest rules, please see here. If you’re entering, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog emails so you’ll see when I announce the winners. Good luck!

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  • Melissa Crytzer Fry

    Lovely and eerily sad…

  • Regina Richards

    Perfect.

  • jclementwall

    I love this, Annie. I love how you’ve captured his voice… makes that last line both darkly humorous and terribly sad.

  • I’m speechless. Can’t describe how much I love this poem.

  • Such an elegant but sad poem! Reminds me I need to read more poetry. 🙂

  • Carie Juettner

    Well done. Makes me want to go outside and take a deep breath in the sunshine. I think I will…

  • Caitlin Cunningham

    This line gave me chills —

    I used to tell my wife, “Honey,
    when I die, don’t bury me.
    Place me above ground
    so I can finally see the light.”

  • Peggy

    Whew! “and the wood sags with moisture
    and things worm through damp dirt”

    Ugh!!!

  • Traci Kenworth

    SO AWESOME!!

  • A. B. Davis

    I’ve never read a poem like his. It made me giddy, I love it so much. And I love the ‘and’ refrain there at the end. Also for other commenters, I’ve only read a little over a quarter of the anthology this poem appears in, but it’s well worth the price. 🙂

  • Well, that’s just a big ole creepfest. How awful it would really be if you were still conscious in death, with nothing to do but think. I imagine minds would go crazy. :O

  • hootowl14

    This is so beautiful!

  • Cynthia Robertson

    Funny, and a little sad, too. I really like this one.