Take a shot

Self loathing and Consciousness walk into a bar


and of course, it’s the beginning of a joke, because what would you be if not the funny friend with not enough to laugh about


So it goes like this self Loathing arrives twenty minutes late and asks the bartender to open a tab


of which only he will be paying


And the first round begins


Self Loathing is already on his psycho-analyzing bullshit says


You take while knowing you can never teach your hands what it means to be full.


hours spent clinging to the phone waiting for friends to call just to never pick up  


you are most at home in the rusted static of a voice-mail, in runaway Goodbyes and Hellos at arm's length.


And so I ask for a drink.


Take a shot


You snap a wisecrack across your knee and tell your friends about the siblings you will never know, poking fun at empty bedrooms conquered by dust and distance.


On bad nights, you lay outside the threshold and slide your smallest finger underneath the doorway cuticles carpet-burned and pink, imagining someone else’s nail bed just within reach


Take a shot


When you were ten you could block out anything with the hums of a video game cartridge slotted into a gameboy


TV static




Window shatter


Slammed doors


now, you’ve traded pixels with sweated bedsheets and empty cups cemented to desktops. 


Take a shot


                      You don’t clean your room,content to live pigsty


Your closet door will not slide shut because of its rusted hinges you do not ask your father to oil


You do not ask your father for anything


he has already taught you how this joke goes: Self Loathing and Consciousness walk into a bar


and your father keeps beer bottles by the TV set


you’re taught by age nine how to use an opener. The first time you try to pry off an aluminum lid, you slice the soft pads of your thumb open.


 That night you learn to get blood out of the carpet and cry for hours.

Your father does not stay home; at age ten you teach yourself to use a stove and sear the face of a spatula into your palm the first time you try to make eggs


So you get sick on take-out and scrub down the bathroom sink once your father goes to sleep. 


Your friends say you smell like bleach in the mornings; they laugh when you say you’re in the business of drinking a cup before bed.


And there’s a mother underground somewhere, with a missing face and your smile, and your father claims he does not remember her

Your father does not remember your fifteenth birthday 

Take a shot


And you’re afraid


you’re afraid that one day you’ll look in the mirror


and see that you look exactly like him


The last revenants of your relationship found in the color of your eyes


the strands of your hair


Self loathing tells you to burn it off


Consciousness tells you that this is a trick mirror


I want to tell you that this is all a trick


one elaborate prank.


A J o k e


Because the punchline has to have hit already.


Because the funny friend is still performing


and no one is laughing. Of course


Because how can I be the funny friend if I’m not constantly cauterizing my wounds into a stand up routine?


 Because I’m still performing and no one is laughing and the bottle is empty.


Take a shot


On the last day of eight grade 


you get the superlative for Class Clown.


During lunch, your friends laugh and tell you there’s never been a more perfect fit.


That night, you go home to a father asleep on the couch and kitchen lights blown out. 


The only lift is from the flicker of infomercials on a buzzing television.


You turn it off and draw a blanket to your father’s chest. You tell him goodnight


you pretend he says it back. On your way to your room you pass by his liquor cabinet


You pause


You pretend you didn’t


Take. A. Shot.


  • Keith

    Wow!! Terrific.

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