Inside the Great Bartender

Colin Dodds

It was his sky,
double you and his key,
the reply to why? was sky
and whiskey exploded in air
so nature could destroy her rogue sons.

The bartender was like the empty space
thieves leave
when they take a piece of furniture.

The Wily Hermit asked The Worst Man on Earth
what he dreams and The Worst Man on Earth
said he dreams he’s invited to a ladies’ parlor to sing arias
and arrives unshaven, stinking, caked with vomit.

The ladies tell him to go brush his teeth.
He pulls a tube of toothpaste from his pocket
and semen spills out of it, onto the rug.
“Jesus” they say “You can’t even keep
your semen out of our carpet. Go help in the kitchen.”

The Wily Hermit said he had his key—
whiskey and ginger ale
and that The Worst Man on Earth should stop by.

We’re all inside of that great bartender tonight,
blinded by those clean patches of carpet
where you’re almost certain something used to be.
Sobriety and wakefulness are not your friends
when they treat you like that.

The ephemera of the town
won’t save anyone from the perils of friendship.
The Worst Man on Earth found a way to cheat the jukebox
but not the horrible evening.

And nothing ever wins for very long
but you pick a side all the same,
and root for whatever decomposes you the fastest.
Nature must destroy her rogue sons.

About the Author

Colin Dodds is the author of Another Broken Wizard, WINDFALL and The Last Bad Job, which Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” His writing has appeared in more than two hundred publications and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Poet and songwriter David Berman (Silver Jews, Actual Air) said of Dodds’ work: “These are very good poems. For moments I could even feel the old feelings when I read them.” Colin’s book-length poem That Happy Captive was a finalist in the 2015 Trio House Press Louise Bogan Award, as well as the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award. And his screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. Colin lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Samantha. See more of his work at