There is a lot of great writing on alcoholism out there. I don't think this will ever match it, but what the hell.
It was inspired, in part, by Lal Waterson's magnificent "Red Wine Promises." (YouTube has audio--with photo, no video--of Tony Capstick singing it here.)
Also by many ruddy people I met among the aging rock-star world in England (hence a few double meanings, in the title, for example), and by a family member now lost, or at least misplaced.
He has gathered the red from every sunny day
and a few false suns (klieg, votive, cigar)
to wash his skin:
youth is red, and cherries, and wine--
but the wine
is hidden behind the soup tins. There is no wine.
Morning bathes his face, his squinted eyes
like a newborn’s, a refugee’s, a beggar’s—
choose their gutters. It is not an illness.
Bosses oppress, shopkeepers discriminate,
because the world now belongs to the Barbies
with Blueteeth and false wisdom
and the fresh, red organs
Every few steps, a stop,
a new start.
Every light he barrels through