The Caribou

The neighborhood bar
opened at 6 am
I got in the habit
of taking a stool
from 7:30 ‘til noon
after plastic factory
third shift, but that
had been jobless months ago
and 13 states
counter-clockwise.
Gas was ninety-two and nine tenths
a cent
per gallon
or something short of a quarter
a liter if you’re in a metric mood
5,236 miles nowhere and back
that’s eighty four hundred some kilometers
for you base ten freaks –
you can see what all that travel
can do to money.
I was reduced to my roomies ramen
six buck cases of Huber bock
2 visits a week to Badger Plasma at $20 per drain and spin
1 pack of smokes each day
and my system was in collapse.
There was ten $ left – Friday night
no blood to dump ‘til Tuesday
rent & bills vs. life
I went out to live slow sips of four dollar scotch
at that wonderful neighborhood bar
my former early morning sustainer
now my capital executioner
slow-slow-sip-sip
one dollar tip
one more scotch
another dollar tip
broke at zero
a failed freedom
release
the satisfaction of emptiness
post-coital in its manner
I was an untethered witch doctor
in a country of scientific rigor
then they came in…
gleaming and clean
apple cheeked and horny bottomed
fresh with cheer and cash
boys and girls enamored of life, love and moonbeams
tinsel-tossed upon Monona’s driven waves.
They were among life’s undefeated and showed as much
three pitchers of the priciest beer
no expense spared in making-merry
two twenties slapped to the bar-top
and away to a corner table –
removed from me, only briefly given
renewed vigor in the edges of their effervescent spot light
but something had changed
my heart rate leaped up
I edged over my wallet
little half inches
nudge, nudge, nudge
in the direction
of forty dollars
the bartender had forgotten
busy ignoring the rest of us
in lust-blooded favor for Titty McRed-fanny
push, push, push
I made the move
jumped my leather onto the bills
slogged it back my way
sweat, vertigo
a sexual response
desire, blurred sight
popped the scotch
clutched up the booty
sprang for the door
and strode casually
shaking like the morning
down the street
toward steak, song, smoke and drink
with another new layer
encrusted upon my precious pearl of self disgust

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