January 29, 2023

Save the Net Books

Blogazine on Books, Arts, and Music


Let’s all raise a glass to the poet Rick Mulkey, whose ode exquisitely captures “the liquid mysterious pull/of danger and possibility”. Concerning Whiskey was first published in MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature (January 2020).

Speaking of whisky

Strong, peaty, brine-filled dram

like the salt-washed rocks of sheltered bays;

like the peat fires under thatched roofs; like rain

fall hard, and soot blacken the hearth of stone;

like the venerable ones curling up

And wait for the spring, old women turned transparent,

fluttering like embalmed moths in their silver-haired cocoons,

finally aged into her more ghostly self; like their men

will no longer storm pastures like fierce scouring winds,

but, lost in their suffering, regret gnaws at them now

and grasp at guilt as they once did with pipe and pint.

This is the alchemy of fire and air, the chemistry of stream and valley.

The distillate of place and time. distillate of memory.

Soft, sugary, amber elixir like the bait

of meadowsweet and chicory, like October smoke

hanging over maple and oak; like the sophistry of sex

on sunny mornings in late December,

cold hands along the flushed length of the spine and chest,

breath stroking the altar of tongues, bedroom windows icy;

like the soft notes of the mandolin, the mournful soaring of the violin;

the original moan of Cash’s Ring of Fire,

or Elvis’ moaning call to Love Me Tender.

This is the push and pull, the liquid mystery move

of dangers and opportunities that we cannot explain

although it carries a bit of everything: the moor, the raisin,

the raison d’etre, the cake safe and guns safe that promises tomorrow

and midnight bugs, the scars forgotten and reclaimed,

the ice clinking expectantly in a glass.


Thanks to all. – Denise Duhamel