My Drinking Cousin - Poem by Herbert Nehrlich
The doorway shrank beneath the pompous man,
who was director of the Rehab Clinic Giesen.
My cousin Gerhard stepped out of our van
to say Hello, to which the man said 'What's the reason
you've come to honour this esteemed establishment?
You want the cure? Or just a small vacation?
Step right inside, don't mind my Swiss accent,
we specialise in alcoholics and thorough rehabilitation.'
That was the plan, my cousin Gerhard had a tiny weakness:
He couldn't keep his hands away from booze.
And, even sober he could see the looming, coming bleakness
of years to come, the years he'd surely lose.
His breakfast saw the interesting habit
of one big glass of Bollinger All Red.
His appetite was similar to rabbits,
and then he'd drink until he tumbled into bed.
They kept him in the clinic for 8 weeks,
and taught him new bahaviour, and false hope.
He left with the expression of a man who seeks
to show all mankind that he's off the dope.
In 1990 Fatty Liver came to visit.
And Dr. Hoffmann treated him with diet.
My cousin Gerhard never asked himself then:
Is it, because I drink too much from noon to midnight twelve?
And at a party given in the spouse's honour,
I sat with Hoffmann and we celebrated.
My hope to influence him in regard to drinking
only briefly flared, then it evaporated.
The friendly doctor was quite simply skilled
in ancient arts of guzzling great big steins.
He said to me that one only gets killed
sooner or later, friend, come have some wine.
In '91 the doctor, in his garden
in the black forest village,
on the edge of town,
he fell headfirst into the well of 90 metres.
Once he reached bottom he began to slowly drown.
Catty tongues then spread the nasty rumour,
that Doc Hoffmann had been full of rum.
If one has sufficient and good humour,
he'd believe that for some years to come
all the well would yield would be high spirit.
Gerhard tasted some and, smiling, said ' Just stir it '.
When Hoffmann's records were revealed to me
by his successor, over drinks,
it said cirrhosis, ' well advanced, grade 14 D',
my colleague said -now gulping- 'If one thinks
that drinking is essential to survival,
to keep the bubbles in the champagne glass,
make sure that no one ever, even slightly, clinks,
so that, upon the champagne's late arrival
in our stomachs, it would still have gas.
It's not the ethanol that causes the destruction',
he slurred a bit now, 'it's the way we slurp,
and down the stuff as if it were pure suction.
You must remember, the salvation is the burp.'
Last year, when Gerhard did his best
to overcome a hip replacement, right,
they laid the second doctor there to rest.
And at the funeral I looked and thought he might
now get the hint and cut down on the stuff.
But then, it is the same as seen with Bonny-Lee and Clyde:
Seems once they start
they never ever really get enough.
Last year my drinking cousin, as we named him,
poured many litres of good wine into a pot,
then lit the fire -and it did not greatly shame him-
he stuck his head into the fumes,
I kid you not.
It was a phase he said, we all have these,
and as he opens gently bottle number nine, :
'I do not have to drink, you know,
for me to cease,
all I would do is say one word and that is
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