This Place by Dan O’Connell

It’s the kind of place that’s got
Vomit in the urinal by 8:30 and
By midnight everyone’s drunk as cows.

There’s 30, maybe 50 people drinking Jim
Beam or Bud, PBR and beers named
After mountains or engines.  Puddles
Of Guinness lapped up by a bulldog.

Pints of $5.00 margaritas topple
Soul after soul into a strangers’ arms
Tattooed with personal flags.

The kind of place where some excuse
For inane shouting like pool or darts
Creates bonds deep as sewers
Between men and women in tailored suits
And bikers who deal in the back booth.

It’s that kind of typical dive where the people
Who live in the upstairs unit
Drink for free and stay frozen in time
For just that reason;

It’s where people go
To spend their last twenty bucks
With no money left for rent and nothing
In the fridge but anger;

The sort of saloon with a TV
Rigged up in a corner above the booze,
Three people gazing at the game all night
Like a stupid war movie
As if shackled to the stool like slaves

But, we are free.

All along the City’s central drag
Places like this filled to the brim,
About to explode at 2 a.m.
People tumbling into taxicabs

Or turning keys with 25 knuckles
On the wheel. People staggering
Down the street as if following

And in the morning, resurrected
By the hands of water and Ibuprofen
We drag ourselves to that realm
Of existence called work

And sustain the economy
Of this great nation, oh
This great nation, oh
This great nation of ours.

Dan O’Connell is a four-time award winning poet whose work has appeared regularly in small and large publications since 1986, most recently Big Bell Magazine (2016) and America Magazine (Foley Poetry Prize, 2015). Dan O. is a former Philosophy and Rhetoric professor. He currently lives in San Francisco, where he has his own law practice and occasionally teaches law.

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