Thursday, February 9, 2017


The back room of the bar is filling up
for the poetry open mike,
the wood paneled walls are lined
with video lottery machines
such as Jewel of the Dragon
and Jungle Riches
and Lobstermania, which flashes
cartoon fishermen across its screen
as an old man wearing a camouflage
cowboy hat and leather jacket
feeds dollars into it, ignoring
the watered-down Bukowskis
as they spit their drunken manifestos,
balding, pot-bellied losers and scrawny punks
who are drawn to the one art form
that doesn't seem to take any special skills
aside from an eagerness to spew your guts.
It's a rowdy bunch, mostly male,
though the featured reader tonight is a woman
who steps up to the mike
and presses a button on her phone

and fills the room with a rhythmic whooshing
like a tide rushing in through a tunnel
I just had this done today, she says,
patting her stomach
My baby's heart
I cried four days when I found out
I was having a boy
and all the men smile through their beards
as they listen to the heartbeats
and the booping and beeping
of the digital fishermen
casting their nets into the digital sea