Where Drunk Men Go by Richard Hague


There are no popular pontifications here. … The relationship with hard liquor is not surrendered up as a disease, but more of a divinely dangerous and damning madness.


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 48
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: June, 2015
  • ISBN: 978-1-939929-32-7


This performance poem, written and delivered by regional bard Richard Hague and supported solidly by Michael Henson on guitar is…a bare-bones affair.

There are no popular pontifications here. The word “alcoholism” is never mentioned, and there are no 12 steps to be heard of – although there is an entire poem listing the drunks’ five rules of the universe. The relationship with hard liquor is not surrendered up as a disease, but more of a divinely dangerous and damning madness. Hague often calls upon the gods in a pagan sense, cursing them and praising in turn. One poem opens with the line, “After all, it was the gods that gave us drink.”

Not that Hague avoids the Christian vision of the drunkard’s dilemma. The regrets of sin and hell have their place in the inebriated conscience and, at one point, the poet imagines driving in a dilapidated sedan to the gates of hell, where all those he’s wronged stand waiting.

But Hague’s understanding of what drives anyone to drink is more honest and more true than religion or popular treatments are willing to own.

One of the early poems in the sequence starts, “Used to be Wildness was my buddy.” And that’s really what it is — the need for wildness in our lives, that drives us to any number of things. The experience of misrule, the bending of what seems too straight or difficult or dull. It’s a bare-bones statement, and Hague hits it head on.

But the marriage to misrule comes at price, and the poems do not shrink from cataloguing the emotional and bodily turpitude that follows. I suspect that most of the other shows in this year’s Fringe will rail against the world as is. This is a show that dares to rail against the self as is. One of Hague’s most haunting lines: “In the trial of self, the self is the coldest judge.”

“Where Drunk Men Go” is a mature show in the truest sense. It does not ask for answers but takes its experience straight from the bottle. – Nicholas Korn, City Beat



Other times, there is a softness:
drink as goddess:
she walks barefoot in the grass at night;
you can see her soft feet
part the leaves aside and her damp soles gleam like sandals
and you want to reach from where you lie,
stunned, your stomach swerving and retching,
bile and vomit and salt on your lips,
reach and touch the skin of her feet,
want to climb out of your fouled shirts and pants
and offer yourself to her for cleansing,
for the rubbing with oil
offered everywhere to Odysseus,
that other lying wanderer and mooch,
and to Jesus when he died,
and then you remember that this beauty,
this loveliness of hip and skin and hand,
this voice like the sighing of waves ashore
on the island of Forgetfulness, this Queen of Lotus-land,

Is the self-same local witch who toothed and shrieking
swined you and all your buddies on the creekbank,
leaped from the bottle cursing and waving her blinding wand,
then later tossed your shitty bones
like sacks of garbage
bootkicked out the back of some smoking pickup
in the country,
and is now hagmother,
running her filthy nails down across your eyes

making you want more and more


Richard HagueAs part of an extended Irish Catholic family, Richard Hague grew up in the Appalachian steel town of Steubenville, Ohio, just across the river from Weirton, West Virginia. He worked as a laborer in the open hearths of Weirton Steel, as a railroader on the Penn Central, as a painter of Ohio Power Company housing along the river, and later attended Xavier University in Cincinnati, earning B.S and M.A degrees in English. He taught for 45 years at a Catholic high school in Cincinnati before refusing to sign an anti-gay and anti-worker’s rights contract required by the Archdiocese in 2014. He continues to teach and conduct workshops all around the region, most recently at Thomas More College and Northern Kentucky University. Where Drunk Men Go is at once a naturalistic description, an ecstatic complaint, an argument against the gods, and an exalted agony in which drunken self-crucifixion and guilt rack men thirsting for transcendence and redemption.

Additional information

Weight 5 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in