Anthony Robinson


I've done them all:
great jugs of cheap red wine
with fat-faced men adorning
the label, a pricey bourbon
that cost five hours' wages,
bottles of malt liquor--sweetish,
burnt-tasting, pale yellow beer
in garish metal cans, and several times
in restaurants or at parties, toasting
births, deaths, or weddings,
I hoisted a Martini or Manhattan,
and in the dimly-lit, too-loud college
bar packed with tight-clothed
bodies that never get old--dollar
drinks while someone gets laid
but most just get happy, then drunk,
then sad or tired or more drunk,
and the first time, fifteen years old-five cans
of warm beer in a fire-damaged shack,
and the beating that came afterward
from my friends, afraid I'd become too
in love with this newly discovered
state, afraid I'd run wild through the streets,
smashing and smashed, or ten years later,
pint after bitter pint alone at an oak table
in the tiny L-shaped tavern
where peanut-shells litter the floor
and the din of joyful human noise
is almost enough to cancel the hum
of the dreadful music, in an alley
not far from here, ass down
on the concrete, back against
a corrugated metal back door that
no one ever passes through, paper-bagged
bottle in one hand, the other fondling
stones, bits of glass, whatever
the last visitor left behind, in
the San Diego apartment
of my former life, slumped half-alert
on the cat-torn sofa, gulping vodka
tonics from a Mason jar, trying
to avoid the "big talk" my ex-lover
dragged me out to have, and then her
small, sure hand at my crotch,
and later in my bedroom, after the shower
where I took her from behind, afraid
to look at her face, after fucking
for what I swore would be the last time,
long, hard pulls straight from the bottle,
and after I finally left for good, the following
November, at the kitchen table
in my parents' house, nine a.m. sifting
through the day's mail, discovering
the small silver chain I gave her
last Christmas, no note attached--then
it was Mom's Zinfandel, two whole
bottles over eggs and bacon,
and now sitting here at my desk,
the summer day turned grey and quiet,
a juice glass filled with four fingers
of Scotch, entertaining this thirst
that happiness can't quell, that sadness
won't let me let go of.

Date of Birth: October 10, 1972
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Occupation: Teacher
Publications: Chase Park, CrossConnect, SLIDE, Sämsara Quarterly, Spinning Jenny, Snowmonkey, Exquisite Corpse, Stirring, etc.

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