“I take sugar with it!”
My glory is only a humble ephemeral absinthe.”

Paul Verlaine 

Drinking absinthe has long
been associated with art
and poets and writers.

The Green Muse, a pixie
in the brain
to wake the words,
expand the senses,
make the senseless wise.

Partaking of the Poet’s Poison
is as much of an art
as what is magicked
afterwards to paper.

pour the light chartreuse liquid,
melt a sugar cube –much like
brownstone in a spoon — into
the glass, add ice, stir until it melts
and the drink becomes milky,
cloudy like the memories it
will conceal.


Praised and cursed, stories
abound of death, debauchery
violence, lust and liberated vices.
Credit has been given for Van
Gough’s Orchard — and his
taken ear — and Hemingway’s
bells. Picasso painted his absinthe-drunk
compatriot, Wilde explored his words.

The sound of the radio melds into
the background as the sugar
burns and liquefies. Subtract senses,
enhance others with wicked honey
down the throat.

The Muse watches, waiting,
then smiles slyly and begins
her dance.



Inspired by Shawna’s mid-week word list and a little research into absinthe. Later in life, Verlaine looked back on an absinthe rampage through Europe with fellow poet Arthur Rimbaud in which they used some of their more ingenious verse as currency, never to be recovered: “That dastardly Rimbaud and I flogged them along with lots of other things to pay for absinthes and cigars.” How many of today’s geniuses  and their work have been lost to their poison of choice?


Filed under Poetry, Poetry - Prompts

21 responses to “Poison

  1. A fascinating bit of research led to a formidable poem – The example of Verlaine and Rimbaud was akin to the Paris of the 1920s and 30s for drunkenness, debauchery and sublime art.and literature.

  2. I really like this! And now am curious about the taste of abisynthe…

  3. TheOthers1

    I’ve heard that absinthe was potent stuff. It seemed to circle widely in the artistic community which is interesting to me really. I loved this poem. The research made it that much better. Brilliantly rendered.

  4. I don’t think I’ll be a fan of absinthe but I like the site and the poetry..

  5. rosemary mint

    I am crazy over this: “The Green Muse, a pixie / in the brain”

    And this: “as the sugar / burns and liquefies. Subtract senses, / enhance others with wicked honey”

    But your final three lines (as always) are my very favorites.

  6. oh for a road trip with Verlaine and Rimbaud. *pining* *ridiculously*

  7. this scares me a bit…having danced the tightrope before i was ever really writing if that is what it took i dont know that i could go back to it…

  8. ihatepoetry

    Bartender, bartender! Where’s mine? A great write. Too bad I’m on the wagon.

  9. when i went to barcelona i heard about it that many of the artist where drinking absinthe…and you really can’t compare the one you get nowadays with the one you got back then…ha..dangerous stuff..with or without sugar.. love the part with the sugar – burns and liquefies…nice..

  10. ah, the way we romanticize substance abuse when it is in the name of art… the muse, THAT muse, comes with a heavy price, me thinks…
    yet you immediately brought hemingway to mind, even before you said his name… i think for some, this sort of thing is the key to unlock the door to the words…

  11. A minuet of the mind, a gavotte through art, a waltz of the senses starting with you sailing the dance to me from where you are, filtered through Paris and flowing with the sea to Texas. Enjoying the effects without the drug! Excellent.

  12. Ah yes the vert la fae, the green muse, think was strong stuff back then – have seen it but not tried – but yes as Gay says you provided a lovely ‘gavotte through art’ and gay Paree – Tresbien x x Lib

  13. hedgewitch

    One of my favorites of yours, Mark. Art always seems to walk not the left or right but the wild side of the brain. Love the echo of all the past madmen whose muses have made them my reading material and (short of sustained debauchery in cigars and liquors these days) role models. Loved it.

  14. Great recollection of a past time, and I just adore the close.

    Excellent work.

  15. Well constructed,interesting topic and I like anything green:)

  16. Love this multi-media exploration.. strangely, I am just reading about Hemingway in 1920s Paris…absinthe being staple 🙂

Some of what I write is true, some is fiction; most is merely possibility.

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