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.
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