Sam J. Grudgings

“With long-term alcohol consumption, receptors affected by alcohol undergo adaptive changes in an attempt to maintain normal function. When alcohol consumption ceases, these changes are no longer adaptive and may contribute to the phenomena associated with Alcohol Withdrawal”

             – Complications of Alcohol Withdrawal – Louis A. Trevisan, M.D., et al


He’s regurgitating the party line unthinkingly. His cut glass chorus throat is a dead bird orchestra. His mouth has muscles for this very purpose & you can see him tripping over his own recovery spiel. Shark shlock. Bite manifesto. All the translated damage that one uses to escape the cult of escape is visible, arpeggios of strangle & garotte song. His cut glass dead bird orchestra throat is a timely reminder of the damage of purity on ambassador bodies. Inexorable ribcage straining against the spine. Yes, this is his least favourite illusion. Yes its his own body that convulses & sings songs of shatter. Yes, that’s vomit from his very own overwrought stomach that’s strangling him. Near death experiences are called revelations because there’s a self preservation instinct that says “calling the process of being made aware of your own mortality anything less than divine intervention is asking for trouble”  How trauma is the body preventing itself from damage. How reactions are a result of the limitations of self. How the limbic system is a poorly designed balancing act prone to overload. This means the restraints we put in place can shackle us to the explosion. Yes, this time he will survive the concerto of wracked body & dead birds because nearly dying is a prologue. Because there is more narrative to come . Or maybe this is mise en abyme. Maybe this is a cold open. Or flashforward. A mise en abyme is where the subject of the artist holds the subject of the artist holding himself – the throat orchestra of birds ripped to shreds by convulsions.  A cold open is the knowing of certain facts seemingly unrelated to the reveal – such as which method of withdrawal will kill you. A flashforward is a self fulfilling prophecy – an isolationist disease & a propensity to eat in shitting grounds. The reveal is a retreat. Is the prophecy fulfilled because it is made or despite it? It looks like he is making it through this. His apology to his believers is unreserved. That means if someone else is waiting they can take it. He says he admires those who negotiate the borders wrought by living & choose to live. But he will make death on his own terms. He says a relapse is a slip not a landslide. Boy, earthquake. Boy, flash flood. Boy, tornado. He has a habit of downplaying the natural disaster of his reckoning. His malnutrition is masquerading as applause. It does this sometimes. The things that kill us demand the most implausible praise. If he becomes too dependent on the acceptance of the orchestra then birds will eat his liver. Maybe this is avian street. Maybe this is meant to happen. Maybe this is clipping the bird wings to augur more favourable outcomes. If he means well then all will end well & he has spent so long in preventing any untoward outcomes he never thought that not feeding the birds would make them stronger in their desire to leave. To leave the body is no bad thing. All birds will fly the nest. In this instance this means that eventually desire will leave but until it does it is a raucous orchestra. A song of denial – oh ransom heart your only captive is yourself they shall sing, all organ failure overload & pissing shards. All kidnap songs, holding the body yes yes yes. This means whatever you need it to.  We pray there is an encore. Echoing the shard orchestra, the conductor repels the crowd rising in the throat. Tomorrow’s vomit & all of the history of learning the score his written body makes. They ask if I manipulate my hand inside the warning of you, is that an applause?  They ask him  Throat-bird, how do you escape the gravity of your own spine?  They ask him hideous things like How do I know your autopsy alone will champion better surgical practises? &  if the body is travelling at 60 miles an hour down suburb streets meets a purpose speeding from the cities at what point do they realise a near death experience is an encore?  They all want bodybodybody only no one knows how to ask. It has been so long since anyone spoke to him politely that all he can do is  regurgitate the useless fucking party line. Brood of hatchlings, bloody albumen, spit song awkward in the wayward hands that line his throat & holds the ugly flightless things aloft as they sing “& acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation “some fact of my life” unacceptable to me, & I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment



Sam J. Grudgings is a queer poet from Bristol shortlisted for the Outspoken Poetry Prize 2020. His work explores rehabilitation, addiction & loss via the lens of body horror, the 1920’s burlesque scene & the new weird movement. Commonly found yelling poems at punk shows, his debut collection The Bible II is available from Verve Poetry Press.