Uptown Boxes

His shaved bullet head bobs
up and down as he bends
to rinse glasses. The tee shirt
tight on his bulging wide
shoulders, a bar rag slung over
one collar bone, the Screamin’
Orphans serenading from speakers
overhead. He recites Basho
and Bukowski while pulling taps.

The patrons come for the pints,
pool, poetry, and blarney, the same
palaver and pleasures found
in Derry and Clifton pubs, along
with Whiskey Box poems
spirited from the gyre turning
and churning in his Irish blood.

This bartender-poet unfolds
his lingo in case after case
of whiskey, this place, faces
that come to him in dreams.
He sings the joys of distillations
and hails warriors who fight to
end all subjugation—a voice-
force for the word and the sod.

His Whiskey Box Sonnets
are perfect appetizers
to tantalize the palates of
insatiable human minds
unfolding one flap, one glass
at a time while spinning
the bottles and racing the clock,
squeezing out every last drop.

This bar, the weeks, yet
another year, are the stages,
the struggles, the loves
and fears, that this poet works
day in and out like Jesus
busting tires at Miko’s Garage,
with no net, no insurance,
no long-range plan, short of
feeding his sons his whiskey
visions of today—opening
boxes and diving in.

–for James Jay

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