S. Majumdar

The Whiskey Song

                                                                                                Bonjour Tristesse!
When you're sad, the thing to do is to keep busy.
Avoid red wine, strong spirits, particularly whiskey
which is only a metaphor for sadness. It’s tricky,

the way that light refracts in amber, and dangerous,
the mood that pools in whiskey dregs, and stranger,
the sudden hiccupping in the heart, the way it lurches, or

stills, or catches in a minor key, in peat or in poetry— which is
what they say peat is anyway: the decaying accumulations
of vegetal matter, which is what sadness is, what life is, what—
                                                                                                Stop. Well,

avoid metaphors, all kinds, if you can, & other illicit things
which are a danger too. You may wake with the dying light refracting
through you & no memory of sunshine & all the evening

hours gorged deep in your vessels like swampland—  slow
& gaseous, in need of harvest. The waking body needs muscle,
needs bone; needs vitamins C & D; needs sunshine: reversals

of what sadness needs. Avoid sex with strangers in Bushwick lofts,
lopping off your hair like Jean Seberg or Joan of Arc, apes & apricots
& autumn leaves, running off to Mexico, Hottentot

museums, volcanic lakes, city bridges, pomegranate
seeds (which lead to synecdoches, which are to be avoided, & myths
are dangerous even in ordinary forms and places). It’s

clear that vegetal accumulations of carbon in general
are a danger and in need of being avoided. So, avoid all
places where sadness lives, like the internet, strip malls,

local record stores, the all-night laundromat. It’s true!
Sadness has a hydra’s many heads; learn to burn and to
cauterize them. Don’t submit to

Learn to enjoy life’s small decencies: like white lies, whats,
whys and whens, and modern appliances, and modern love, and mots
justes, and the sun, and the A train in most directions, though not

to Brooklyn where there is too much carbon, which is what
all the laughing boys with love swimming in their eyes are made of,
& where girls with delicate ankles sip whiskey from old

fashioned glasses in the trembling light, & where no bridge
contains such poetry or frames the night so well or has such
a cadence or has seen more history— which is also a thing

to be avoided. History, things with “history,” people with whom
you have “history,” decaying vegetal accumulations of “history.” Avoid
history, poetry, metonym & matter, things in amber, things that matter,

things that can decay.

S. Majumdar is a writer living in New York.

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