A Bout of Heavy Drinking
I can’t really say I lost track of time
So much as it lost all track of me.
I was always here, or maybe there,
Someplace, my bills mounting,
The exes hating me, my words
Circling in a holding pattern over
A pot-pocked parking lot, lights
Left on and battery stone dead,
Losing God and my car keys in
One fell swoop before happy hour.
So I took my stool, tossed a skin 20
On the bar, nodded to a bartender
Named Paulie and smiled at the barmaid
Who clocked in younger than my daughter
And cashed out with ten years on me,
looked up for a game, then settled in to weigh
The options one has when out of options.
I have no regrets save everything.
I have nothing to save save saving face.
Coasters replace. Shifts change. Mugs clink.
A few more 20s turn quarter and dime
And I am happy to not be unhappy.
I think of many things, see many
Faces, yearn for nothing more than
More time to sit, think, see, yearn.
I shift on my stool, empties elbowed
By buffalo tongue and pickled egg,
A splintered Indian and pretzel pieces
Left from St. Patrick’s Day, an ice-filled steel
Trough to piss in that’s always miles away.
I order words and the streets clear
Like a gunfight. No one knows me.
The earth will quake and flood, the sky
Disintegrate before my bloodshot eyes,
But I remain a head full of thoughts, in need
Of change and a few lies, lines, and
Lives that will form the tightest alibi
For who, what, and where I have been.
John Jeffire was born in Detroit. In 2005, his novel Motown Burning was named Grand Prize Winner in the Mount Arrowsmith Novel Competition and in 2007 it won a Gold Medal for Regional Fiction in the Independent Publishing Awards.
His first book of poetry, Stone + Fist + Brick + Bone, was nominated for a Michigan Notable Book Award in 2009. Former US Poet Laureate Philip Levine called the book “a terrific one for our city.” His most recent book, Shoveling Snow in a Snowstorm, a poetry chapbook, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016.
For more on the author and his work, visit writeondetroit.com.