Brief Report on {Findings of Experiment}: Drinking After Abstaining for Twenty-Five Years Because I Thought Things Had Gone Wrong and I Didn’t Want Them to Go Wrong Again But Now I Thought My Life Might Be Different by Landon Godfrey


Suspended in a small glass bowl atop a glass stem footed by a glass base—la forme du verre à champagne a une influence sur des bulles—it’s wet but dry and effervescent. Golden. Cold. It’s champagne. A coupe of champagne.


Bright, shining, delicious, and {nothing bad happens}. And after that another glass of champagne, and {nothing bad happened then either}.


Large bottles of champagne are named after biblical kings. And some theologians have speculated that the god of the First Testament is also the devil.


It was a jereboam, and {nothing bad happened}. We drank some of it and then some more. We laughed, the food tasted spectacular, early evening sunset shone pink and orange in the oak trees, some bees buzzed a few purpling azaleas on their way home for the day, the sibilant champagne fizzed in seeming response, we all wanted to get dessert, small candles were set out among the dishes, someone said how nice it would be to have a cigarette and everyone else agreed though no one had one, no one had had one in years, we ordered espressos to go with pieces of cake, a chanteuse’s smoky voice glistered somewhere just beyond our ken, we sighed contentedly. {Nothing bad had happened}.


How to Draw a Cartoon by Ivan Brunetti, Lesson One. Draw several self-portraits and a few common things—a cake, a cat, a car, a castle—for periods of 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1, 30 seconds, 15, 5.


Control: glass of water. {Nothing.}


1531. Champagne was first bottled by Benedictine monks in Limoux, France, at the Abbey of Saint Hilaire. Not exactly in Champagne, France, and 100 years earlier than the Champagne region wines. These days the original sparkling wine can’t be called champagne because all the appellation d’origine contrôlée business is very regimented and strict.

It was a sparkling wine from France. Someone said, I call God “God” because that’s His name. And the rest of us said, sure, that’s why this is called champagne. {Nothing bad happens}.


Without looking in a mirror, I draw my head; the exercise is taxing despite the heartening chain-jangles made by the sweet ghosts of forbidden childhood crayoning along long, empty walls. But then these lines composing the 15-second self-portrait shine with immediacy and spiritual accuracy—that is exactly how my nose scrunches when I’m trying to do something difficult (wasn’t aware of this before, but it seems right)—and the calligraphic quality says some nice things about my joie de vivre. Not invited into my wonky 15-second castle: 2-minute or 5-second selves, the former a belabored grump, the latter a flighty do-nothing. But my 15-second self could live a happy life petting the 15-second cat in that swiftly rendered fortified hovel constructed of a few slices of red ink (the room where I was drawing felt warm—late spring in the afternoon—and I’d been too settled and indolent at the dining room table after lunch to move, grabbing the only castle-drafting implement nearby, a red-ink-filled fountain pen, given to me by a favorite boyfriend in college, whom I met on a film school movie set—he the sound man, me the turtleneck-wearing actress—and whom I loved with a cinema- and champagne-infused abandon, only to be left later for his dream of a hippie’s VW van and the open road, a dream I’d have liked much better had I been part of it. Now I think an open road’s the best dream for everyone—).


That long ago time of salad days and trysts and arguments and broken champagne coupes and ripped stockings and stair-tripping and so many tears and shame and trying harder to not stop trying and the overall feeling of malaise and worry and all of it too much and the gutting loneliness and most of the time {something bad was happening}.


Le vin du diable sometimes bursts from the bottle, cork popping unexpectedly, an eruption sporadically instigating the eruptions of others in a cellar, the devil everywhere in the kaboom and spillage.


Marriage to a poet. {Data incomplete.}


William Blake draws the nude Devil like a supervillain without a costume. Did Blake invent comic books? No, but it seems sinful that we read his illustration-poems in typescript. The form of a champagne glass affects the bubbles.


Sparkling apple juice. I did not drink champagne at my wedding. Nor did my husband. And we eloped, so no reception. {Nothing bad happened, though my father-in-law’s still angry we weren’t married in a church.}


The méthode champenoise stipulates a second fermenting in the bottle, with added sugar and a bit of yeast stimulating the process. Ongoing effervescence occurs when champagne is poured into a glass.


Second acts and continuing sparkle: {nothing bad}.


The best wine is the oldest, the best water the newest. —Blake, Proverbs of Hell. In Harper’s Bazaar Diana Vreeland suggested washing your blond child’s hair in dead champagne.


I don’t remember the first time I drank champagne. I must have been very young. {Nothing bad happened.}


A ready hostess always has a bottle of champagne in the fridge. Ready devils and ready monks do, too. Enough! or Too much, says Blake, and the Devil says, Energy is Eternal Delight. Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained....


After the reading Emilie came over and we drank some champagne because why not and I marveled at my luck to have such a charming friend who could write such beautiful fiction full of acute observations and nuanced plots and when she talked I felt smarter which is a very nice attribute for a friend to have and I wish all my friends made me feel smarter and of course many of them do but some of them make me feel sort of bad about myself and I often ask myself why I even see them because they must not really be my friends but Emilie made me forget about them with her curly blonde hair and brilliant talk and when she left I had some more champagne sitting by myself with my dog and the flute resting on the faux mink blanket the dog and I were curled up under and {nothing bad would happen} and in fact {everything was perfectly lovely}.


I draw a champagne coupe in 15 seconds using a fine-tip black magic marker. A horizontal line midway through the widest part of the bowl indicates the meniscus. Circles = bubbles. Later I’ll find a colored pencil and infuse the drawing with golden soul. Because this drink exists as a cartoon, a few yellow circles will float forever above the glass, eternal delight. La forme du verre à champagne a une influence sur des bulles.


It’s a glass of champagne, and {nothing bad is happening now}.
Landon Godfrey is the author of a full-length collection of poems, Second-Skin Rhinestone-Spangled Nude Soufflé Chiffon Gown (Cider Press Review, 2011), selected by David St. John for the Cider Press Review Book Award, and two limited-edition letterpress chapbooks, In the Stone (RAPG-funded, 2013) and Spaceship (Somnambulist Tango Press, 2014). Also an artist, she co-edits, -designs, and -publishes Croquet, a letterpress postcard-broadside journal. Born and raised in Washington, DC, she now lives in Black Mountain, NC.