Running In My Veins

by Jerry Ratch

I went to Prague recently to visit my family's castle.

And they say that inside the veins of every Bohemian

lies an entire army of dead alcoholics.

I suppose this is true of me too.


I have at times felt them overrunning the topsoil

of my own personal demons, even though

my father had the iron will to drink only

one glass of deep red Mogen David wine

with the yellow eye of an egg yolk

staring out at him like the evil eye,

warning him of what always lay ahead

if only he would cut loose.


But he never did. He had a Russian's iron will,

for it was the Russians who rode into Bohemia

on horseback and swooped up his own drunken father

into the Czar's wicked army.


Every family castle is a let-down, I think.

Kind of claustrophobic,

the dungeon poorly lit and dank.

Makes you go inside and shut down,

quit thinking, sort of like meditating.


Too much history kind of makes you

thirsty for blood, hungry for booze

and duck and cabbage, raw whiskey

in the throat, and maybe, yes

even pissing in the sink.