Fifteen Percent Is a Slap in the Face.

It was late and I was laying in bed drunk when she called
just as far gone as I was that time at her bar
when I'd left my number on a coaster next to her hefty tip
and a note I'd written in the bathroom acknowledging her advances.
The message was a blunt one offering to lay some pipe
since she'd made plumber jokes
in between the free shots she'd given me
in an attempt to loosen my tongue, so to speak.

Her speech slurred through the phone
but my equally ossified ears understood:
It was the end of her night out playing pool and
she wanted to cash in her chips and call in that favor
since her boyfriend had cheated on her the week before
and I was a good means of revenge, if nothing more.

It'd been a few weeks since I'd gotten any
a few months since I'd made the offer at the bar where she worked
a few too many strong cocktails that night to say No.

The anticipated awkwardness wasn't present when she showed.
Her tight blonde curls smelled of smoke and spiced rum.
It didn't take long for the clothes to come off
but I should've hit the lights first.
Bad tattoos and stretch marks marred her torso
her tired breasts sagging into her armpits
as she laid back on my bed, ready.

I knew it'd take awhile to finish with that kind of lousy inspiration
and it did.
I'd never had to work so hard to get off in my life
even after I'd turned out the lights.

After wiping the sweat from my face, rolling off, and cleaning up
I asked if she wanted to stay
not thinking she actually would.
(It was still that early phase of being newly single
where I didn't mind sleeping alone.)
She said she'd stay awhile but had to leave before sunrise
in order to be home when her five-year-old son woke up.
That was the first time I'd heard that excuse before
and suddenly felt bad for taking advantage of a mom
though she was probably the guiltier party in that respect
since she was the one who'd dialed.

We laid there for two more hours with the tension somehow fading
despite the terrible romp in the sack
and for the first time since the last that mattered
a female ran her fingers through my hair
and down the length of my body.
I'd almost forgotten how good that felt, even contrived intimacy
after a one-night stand. I was honestly upset to see her go
though I fell soundly asleep right after.

A friend of mine asked why that bar became taboo for us
and I finally gave in and told him about my moment of weakness.
When his laughter stopped I made him swear not to tell a soul
and swore to myself that if and when I ever go back to that joint
I'll leave an even bigger tip on the bar for her:
"Don't let your kid turn out like me."


"There's a fine line between Loser and Legendary." -- Robert Mahoney

There's a miniature oil slick floating on top
of this orange-tinged cocktail that's more vodka than not
because not everyone knows how to wash dishes correctly.
I feel my face redden
at this memorable token of my current state of affairs
but the familiar high-pitched clink
of the ice against ice against glass
manages to lull the beast back into hiding
at least for the time being.
But let it be known:
I blame God for my drinking.
He's the one who gave me opposable thumbs
I just found a good use for them.
Your only argument could be
that I do it for the effect and not the taste.

And after a bout of said debauchery
I sat on the pot at home reading how Auden did it better.
The open window pissed me off
since it's oil season
so I closed it a little too enthusiastically.
The window caught
the edge of my roommate's shell-shaped soap dish
and sent it crashing to the floor
cheap porcelain shooting everywhere.
Another drunken shattered fumbling
to hinder the opposite sex.
I tiptoed back to the toilet
and swore I felt the white glass
piercing the soles of my feet
but in reality it was the pain of a phantom limb
amputated and cauterized a long time ago.
I use that fire-healing word now
because it's safer than love:
at least you learn your lesson the first time you get burned.

Chalk it up to another botched maneuver.
Fuck, I couldn't even smoke right today;
all the ashes kept flying in my face
and I'm pretty sure I swallowed a few in my car
on the way home from work.
"Work," if you even want to call it that.
For the last half of the day
I sat at our bar of choice
buying Johnny, my broke partner, drinks
the loyal alcoholic that I am
the faithful freeloader that he is.
He's got a wife and a mortage and kids.
I've got nothing
but jealousy.
He's even got me beat when it comes to
that illegal rite of passage into the typical blue-collar world
I'm being sucked into against my weak will.
But soon I'm sure, like him, the headlights behind me
on a paranoid drunk-drive home
will turn out to christen my path
by being accompanied by rollers.
Better judgment says I should take the two dents
on my rear bumper
that I don't recall acquiring
from two different nights
that I don't recall ending
as a sign that maybe I should stop
before the self-fulfilling prophecy comes true.
Until then, however, I'll continue to binge at the bar
from time to time during (Almost Slightly) Happy Hour.

After that costly ordeal with Johnny
I drove home
and managed to remember
to throw apples out for the deer
that another one of my coworkers is going to shoot
the one who's become my surrogate father
since mine disowned me a year ago.
It's unethical and illegal to bait deer
but it's no secret
that I'll take any father
or any meat
any way I can get it at this point.

Speaking of which
my stripper friend called late last Monday
asking me to come visit her at work.
I told her I couldn't because it was the middle of the week
but reassured her that I still had her toothbrush
from the time she stayed over a few weeks ago.
Christ, now they're the ones calling me.
If my former friends and lovers
could only see me now
they'd know that the last laughs are theirs
and the scabbed knuckles and empty bottles
are still
and will always be

(And why hasn't your old man called?
Because deep down
he knows you're on your way to becoming him.
The ice cubes are passing through your lips
as you kiss the cup and suck the temporary sanity.
Oh, come on, kid
finish the last few stanzas despite the vodka;
the spins won't last too long
the truth will help you sleep.)

Somehow this all comes down to one
OK, a few, but for argument's sake
we'll call it "One"
I'd been dreaming I pulled into my driveway
walked upstairs to my room
and saw her sitting on my bed waiting to talk.
Not necessarily smiling, not coming back
just acknowledging my part in her life
good or bad.
Something, I did something, right?
Affected someone?
Inspired an action requiring more energy
than that required to flick a fucking booger?
That's what all this has come down to one way or another.
When the hubcap she bought me
came off somewhere
I took it as one of those signs
and then when I found it again
five days later in a neighbor's yard, broken
I ignored the omen entirely.

I knew I'd be OK
just like I know now.
Because when I was done on the toilet
and finished reading that Auden poem far better than mine
I pivoted the ball of my foot over on my heel
and sure enough there was no blood on the tile.

Currently reading:

"The Rosy Crucifixion: Book Two, Plexus" by Henry Miller.
"The Selected Poems of W.H. Auden."


a shot from the hip, no wonder it missed.

one of the girls you were always jealous of called last night
just to tell me this tool of an actor reminded her of me.
I said it was strange since we didn't look alike at all.
then I realized that he plays a jerk in a lot of movies.
"maybe he's been typecast, too," I said.
she thought it was just his hairy chest
but told me I could believe what I wanted
like she didn't know I would do that anyway.
you'd know better than to bother;
you should've never worried about those broads
but then again
I should've never given you reason to.

once the gin hits my lips
the shit hits the fan
and those who know what's best
hit the deck
like you
they hit the road.
it's not something I'm proud of.
it's just the way it is.

I never understood why Hem and Fitzy
and all those other handsome old devils of the Lost Generation
used to call it "getting tight."
all it ever seems to do is loosen my tongue
and that's what hurt you on more than one occasion
enough to eclipse the hundreds of times it brought you pleasure.
therefore, according to my enabling logic
it's only right that it should be the drunk me that apologizes
once every few months
though if it's any consolation
I'm painfully sober right now.

last week I indulged in a Tuesday night pity party
chasing bad lines with good beer.
I'd go out on the porch for a smoke every couple drinks
the increments shrinking
the smoke-induced gag-reflex growing
as the night wore on.
I saw that spider in its web on the railing again
and burned it with my lighter again
and watched it drop into the bushes again
though I knew it'd be back again
since home is home
no matter the pain.

driving home from work yesterday
I rubbed my temples and felt two bulbous pimples sprouting
on either side of my forehead
growing where the brim of my hat holds the sweat.
for a second I thought my former female fan club was right
and I was finally taking on the role entirely
by budding horns.
I laughed and flicked a butt out the window
timing it poorly
as a car was passing me in my blindspot.
I'm pretty sure it flew into her window
but didn't stick around for long enough to find out.
I turned at the next intersection and cringed
as I got stuck behind a car I swore was yours.
that used to happen with the first Great One, too
but it's much worse now
since Nissans are more common than Volkswagens.
besides, you never forget your first
but it's your last that really matters.

come on, what d'ya say?
I can't do another season alone, baby.
not in this room with the chipping paint
and lousy ventilation.
give me one more shot
before I give myself one
or twenty
depending on how you choose to interpret.
I promise you'll never catch me
looking up and to the left again;
I've trained my eyes to hide the lies.

this all sounded so much better three minutes ago
before it happened:
the overanalytical pseudo-sign of the night.
I coughed and a fortune from a Chinese dinner months ago
that was laying on my desk floated down and fell on my bare toes:
"To remember is to understand,"
and the LEARN CHINESE section read:
"Xiang-nian ni = Miss You."
well, in that case
xiang-nian ni, honey
but suddenly
after re-reading all this
I remember
and I understand
that I deserve to never rent movies
or cook for two again.

Currently reading:

"The Selected Poems of Dylan Thomas, 1934-1952"
"The Rosy Crucifixion, Book One: Sexus" by Henry Miller.