patrick mckinnon's poetry has appeared in more than 700 literary magazines worldwide including Atom Mind, Henry Miller's Stroker, Pulpsmith, and North American Review. "the bartending poem" was included in one of his books, Cherry Ferris Wheels (Black Hat Press). This poem came out of patrick standing behind the bar at Charlys in Duluth, Minnesota pouring drinks for many years.
the bartending poem
the jukebox blows jail talk for a dollar
& everyone here is performing a monologue.
im tilting bottles, grabbing straws. im
sweeping whole days under alcohols rug.
acrid smoke hangs the air w/dirty laundry
& neon outside the hamper
flashes a blue martini glass,
sending two fragile bubbles
into the onslaught of night...
& here comes waitress
w/her beauty queen, grinder monkey, tip me, fuck me
smile. the youth of torture to this old man.
cocktails gripped in her long-nail fingers,
change slipped tender into her hand.
cue sticks clicking
the pool table's ball-bearing tongue.
the video games, spastic along the darkest wall
& the ice...the hard, cold, trembling ice
pulls her liquor lover to her belly.
they copulate in the mouths across the rail.
they embryate in the frontal lobes,
just behind the eyes. the eyes. eyes
staring at me like im some strange machine
that moves w/the gestures of a priest.
black pants, white shirt. this is my church!
votive candle bottles line the wall behind me.
communion, confession, last rites.
i'll serve everybody something
until the test pattern
stands guard over the tv
& the martini glass blinks itself black
& the bubbles are gone
& the cars weave home,
leaving the moon fallen into the lake
& the silence of every star
rolling over us.