Johnny Trouble’s Bar


focus is more than just a serious facial expression
I was drunk and soaked in warm sweat
staring at my pile of belongings
stacked across the room
just slouched against the wall
with my wet hands
my wet legs
I recoil my toes and my socks squish the sweat
to the top of my toe nails
sitting up, my right cheek peels off the wet wall
the heat from the crowd
made the small back room
of this New Hampshire night club’s ceiling
my two suitcases dance before me
from my heavy drunk
I must move toward my pile of belongings, I thought
I must get my boots on and these sneakers off
I must put on a dry shirt,
then find my under jacket and alpha jacket,
and then lift the suitcases and
find the others
it was an equilibrium tug of war
but I had accomplished all of it
what is waiting outside is sharp and strong
winter in New England is but
Death’s hand raised
slightly above us
once I stepped outside, I would catch the flu
I knew this
I was too wet and winter is too cruel
weak from drinking and not eating
winter will win me
I am careless
I will be sick tomorrow
and I will not be able to afford any kind of medicine
so I will be sick for 8 days
ready to leave
with different shirts bunched and buttoned wrong
I stand holding two small suitcases
one of which was my father’s when he was my age
for a moment I wonder if he was ever drunk like me
like this
but then forgot the thought
as I swagger out the door to meet up with
my fiendish friends
out the doorway, winter’s bit, bites
and my body is struck
with the awakening panic of the
New England cold
I think of my friend in California and his question
“yes, the coasts are different”, I answer him quietly
with the muttering of a drunk
as my puffy white words rise
floating past Death
and up to the stars


money in the toilet

who do they think they are?
to fill the urinal with coins,
when there are at least 3 homeless men outside
do these men of money
demand that those in need must be humiliated
before they are given a pocketful of change?
I didn’t like it
I wouldn’t have it
I dove my hand into the urinal and took all the coins out
washed them in the sink
then dried them with folded paper towels
on my way out of the bar
I handed the coinage to three homeless men
who looked to be in their upper fifties
the men were much appreciative
they smiled lovingly and called me ‘brother’
as I walked on home over the Longfellow Bridge feeling my drunk
I listened to a crew boat coasting lightly
atop the Charles River
and felt the warm breeze that Boston summers release
in my thoughts, I envisioned the men who had tossed the coins in the toilet
and as I looked to where the lamp light of high buildings reflected on the
ripples of the rower’s small wakes
I thought of mean men of money
I thought,
“You little bastards”


a dead drunk clown

there used to be a clown down in Harvard Square
and many people would walk to him

he was a clown from top to bottom
big green and yellow shoes
a short red jacket
white pants that reflected the summer’s daylight
beckoning tourists for some good old New England fun

but he was a drunken clown
a horrible sight when you got close
we’ve all been tricked once
by the drunken clown of Harvard Square
never forgetting your last image of him
before you jolted back

the cakey makeup
the blood shot eyes
dying teeth
and sharp breath
whose taste lingered on your pallet
he smelled of thick body odor and lousy booze
and his deep, clogged-with-ash utterance
hollering at you
stayed with you
as you walked on

he would trick parents
and scare children
girlfriends gasping when the clown
got close enough
to smell their hair
and a hand around their waist
boyfriends would shove him after the quick groping
but the clown would just laugh louder
this was his joke
and no one was his match
he always

one day, I sat and watched him for a bit
his balding greasy hair
his staggering movements
his caveman hairy arms, long and black
and thought
when was his first day out like this?
what triggered it?
what did the people who know him think of his
stories of fright?
does he stand at his bathroom mirror giggling as he
gets ready?
or was it a serious matter?
and how long does the drunken intoxication keep the joke fun?
does he go to the packy store as the clown?

I wanted to read his story
know where he’s from
and learn when the clown idea got set down
on his front burner

maybe he just enjoyed being a deceiver to the innocent
I mean—
he always seemed happy…’ish

I was impressed a bit that he was so organized
and driven
at being a drunken clown
day in and day out he’d be in Harvard Square

I was told today that he died drunk in the middle of JFK St.
face down in the middle of the street
is that what he wanted?

for he did accomplish
more than anyone else
of being
a dead drunk clown


a way out

gutter girls laughing
big teeth showing
swollen gums bursting
eyes scanning
looking for boys to kiss
broken windows poofing in light snow
would look beautiful
if it was a movie
if it was a stage show
if it was movie foam
but like death to me in a trash squat in Slovenia
I rise up from the broken-wood, folding cot that I lay in
with torn, army green fabric
my spindly body shaking wildly
back bones, shoulders and ribs shaking wildly
the aggressive cold
‘wait, couldn’t I die tonight?’
I thought, as I noticed the
around me
crone’s eyes widen for play at me
I approached these hellcats feeding
with a snatch and a glare
I grab their bottle
absinth doesn’t taste very good when chugging it in desperation
but it’s your only way out