INCARCERATION OF THE ORANGE BARTENDER [by Michael Rothenberg]

Bourbon straight out of the bottle
before I go to bed
Who could tell you better
what love is really like?

I don’t remember
It was a burn in my chest
and a physical wish
Made my jaws tingle
and kicked my ass in the morning

Rubber Jim, Shady Lady
High Buck, Saw Buck
Duck Walk, Calamity Rose

Falling apart all over you

Stumbling around in a hazmat suit
Shoelaces tied together
I walked home from the disposable China factory
singing “Sad Eyed Lady of The Lowlands”

“Fancy that,” she said, “You’ve learned
to speak in whole sentences,
most of the time”

And she was right, most of the time
She was the smartest one in the family
When she wasn’t crying about how cruel life is
and how none of it ever comes easy

“Oh, you’re a fine judge of character
But your stepping on my toes,” I said
“and making my plantar fasciitus bleed
Ease up some and let the good times roll…”

But she didn’t, she couldn’t
She was a Catholic and so was her mother
Beer was her divine grace and eternal covenant
So she cried and cried, drank and cried
Not that all Catholics do
But you can imagine

Rubber Jim, Shady Lady
High Buck, Saw Buck
Duck Walk, Calamity Rose

Falling apart all over you

I regret I never became a superstar
I was always too shy for that
Suffering from low blue self-esteem
or false humility, I’m not certain…

I’d lie in bed in the dark any time of the day
Tired of the world and Moses
Great things are for great people, I’d moan

Modest contemplation deserves a reward
and should always get it…

“You have to work it”
The movers and shakers like to say
“Enter the system, come to a meeting”
How, exactly, do you “work it”?
“Work it like you’re worth it,” one professional said

Give me my own distillery, I thought, I’ll do it myself
Besides why do I need a middle-man
“That flower is bootiful all in itself, ” I said
And drank myself unconscious

Bourbon straight out of the bottle
before I go to bed
Who could tell you better
what love is really like?

January 28, 2016

 

Appeared previously in Oakland Review

_____________________

Michael Rothenberg is an American poet, songwriter, editor, and active environmentalist. With Terri Carrion he founded the organization 100,000 Poets for Change. He also edits Big Bridge magazine online.

Unknown