My Life in Limerick
by "Barefoot Rick" Roeber
I’m told t’was a long time ago,
In a month that usually has snow,
I can’t quite remember,
That 20th of December,
When I entered the world all aglow!
Two parents, and a brother before me,
Working class folks living poorly,
But we managed along,
On a prayer and a song,
Always fed, clothed, and loved dearly.
Growing up, I still can recall,
Those were the best years of all,
I whistled a tune,
As men walked on the moon,
Feeling safe, like I never would fall.
In the 70s, however, I changed,
Priorities and choices rearranged,
Cigarettes I was smoking,
Guzzling bourbon and choking,
My parents thought me deranged.
In high school, I couldn’t keep straight,
Using all types of drugs at high rates,
My classes, I was failing,
And the police said he needs jailing,
So to the Navy I surrendered my fate.
But the Navy, it wasn’t much better,
For away from my home I’se unfettered,
To live as I wished,
To drink like a fish,
Soon, I got my discharge letter.
So to mother and father I returned,
My bridges, not yet, had I burned,
The booze made them sick,
To the point they must kick,
Me out of their house til I’d learned.
On the road, I stayed for some time,
From city to city, I’d wind,
In missions I’d sleep,
Or under a bridge I would creep,
For shelter from the misery inside.
In the 80s, I worked the Gulf Coast,
On ships, as a deckhand, I drank most,
But one hangover morning,
I left without warning,
On the inside I felt like a ghost.
That week I went to a meeting,
They welcomed me in with their greetings,
They talked about booze,
And how I’d eventually lose,
King Alcohol, they said, there’s no beating.
Three years, I did not darken their door,
What’d they know? I knew much more!
But I continued to sink,
And I knew I must drink,
So up to Missouri I tore.
I imagined a family I needed,
Of a wife and a home I’d been cheated,
So I took me a wife,
To change my whole life,
Better sense I wished I had heeded.
A wife, a step-daughter, and me,
I thought this would make me happy,
But my drinking grew worse,
And my wife learned to curse,
The day she decided to marry.
But three babies came in five years,
In spite of our fighting and tears,
We continued to cope,
Near the end of our rope,
Denying and rejecting our fears.
Sometimes, I’d go to a meeting,
And receive the familiar greeting,
But I’d never get humble,
My mind fought and grumbled,
Against all of your spiritual heeding.
Our marriage often was tested,
When liquor, I had ingested,
But I’d swear the next day,
To put booze far away,
My weak will, the wife, she detested.
I continued to live in despair,
Of the wreakage I couldn’t repair,
I had failed all my life,
Now the worst, my kids and the wife,
For my death, I thought I’d prepare.
So I left in secret by night,
Drunk driving til the pale morning light,
To Las Vegas, I’d head,
Or just drive til I’se dead,
The demons no more could I fight.
Three weeks I drank with a fury,
To end it all in a hurry,
The motels were a blur,
How I drove, I’m not sure,
Of my fate, I wasn’t much worried.
But grace, one day, overtook me,
With clarity, grabbed, and it shook me,
My death wish had fled,
Alive, and not yet near dead,
I turned my truck toward Missouri.
Over a thousand miles, I came back,
In pain, my body was racked,
Outside Baptist hospital,
I poured out my bottle,
Telling God I didn’t know Jack.
That day, Christ gave me sobriety,
A gift not from my own piety,
Seventeen years, I have stayed,
And have not run away,
Today, I’m part of society.
He’s giv'n me a new wife and home,
From it, I never shall roam,
He’s given so much,
From that day’s awesome touch,
It seems like I should now end this poem.