New Year’s Eve,
Milwaukee, 2011

I only go out to get a fresh appetite
for being alone. That was Byron,
I think. I only go out to get the bag
on. That was me, I think.

Down to the dingy bar I go. Say goodbye
Catullus to the shores of Asia Minor. Say
goodbye Tom to the curbs of Whitefish Bay.

My favorite color is Glenlivet brown and
I’m going to prove it. She’s only twelve
but tonight I’m going to make her my bitch.

I hope I see Donny but he’s probably making
popcorn for the crowd at the Globetrotter’s game.
I’d like to play cribbage with Mike but he’s dead.
At least Ted, the heroin-addict bartender, is
here, but so is that shrew whose husband
I represented in the divorce. Good God.

The sound of the bar dice is an anodyne.
Shots all around. All of us in this musty boat
must imagine Sisyphus happy. If not,
how could we cut the deal, how could we
bring 'em back, how could we avoid
the skunk.

This is New Year’s Eve
in Milwaukee in 2011, for fuck’s sake.

—Thomas J. Erickson, Milwaukee