Paulelmo's Blog

Drinkslinger’s Lament

I was incorrect when I said that “Correspondence with Charlotte, North Carolina” was the second of the three important poems I wrote in 1995. It was actually the third, written in late December, hence the line about having nice holidays.

The second, actually, was my bar poem. I have written many bar poems of course, in bars, about bars, because of bars. Still, “Drinkslingers Lament” is my bar poem. It was first, and no other writing of any kind comes close to defining my bartending  life.

The telling thing about this piece is this: If you change the days of the week and the price of the drink (this I’ve updated) and note the fact that people no longer smoke in bars, it could have been written yesterday.

It interests me to find both success and failure in that fact.

 

Drinkslinger’s Lament

Tuesday is my Friday                                           and Friday is my Monday                               and days are nights and                                 nights are days for me.

I’m sleeping when you’re working               and working when you’re sleeping;             pictures in a wallet                                            remind of family.

The bottle’s never empty                                   nor is it ever full                                               but just enough therein                                     with one to spare.

Tales from tongues grow taller                     as butts in trays grow shorter.                          The register rings six-fifty,                            a glass of iced despair.

I’m the bartending man,                                I am I am,                                                           and the bartending man is me.                     I’ll light you a smoke and                               tell you a joke and                                        bubble and bliss are all you’ll see.                   But bubble and bliss                                           are masks I wear                                                to hide my true identity                            because within me lies                                the secret truth:                                                    The glasses are drawn from misery

2 Replies to “Drinkslinger’s Lament”

    1. You know, it was fun to write. That’s one thing about writing for me, even back then, when so much of it was so difficult for me…it has always been fun. Those were difficult years for me, in my attempts to find myself and my voice, but, I’ll tell you, as half in the bag and pointed in the wrong direction as I usually was, I really did make some worthwhile headway. I so loved writing these pieces; it was always just sit down and scrawl it out. Thanks for reading, Susan.

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