In a one horse town

two blocks from the police station,

sits Fred's


A former grocery store, converted into local bar,

home to cheap bottle beer, good burgers and

on most Friday nights,



There is nothing romantic about it,

not picturesque, nor antique.

It's just some place to listen to old music,

drink too much and convince yourself that tomorrow will be a new day


Somewhere there is a picture of you,

outside the bar, beer sign glowing over your head

looking nothing like a red Halo


Still, it made you more photogenic than you could make yourself.  

Maybe it was the beer  










Large belated thanks to Scout Finch for the Inspiration

Budweiser softens the lines
on the slot-machine gal's face. Night after night
and now a winner. She buys drinks
for the boys at the bar she buys drinks
for herself

and for the man in the thick black jacket
covered in dust and smelling like a chemistry set.

Budweiser softens the lines like
a holy glow
a holy blow.

Thirty-two, later, dreaming she
sits up in the slat-blind light beside him
sits up in the flickering on truck stop sheets.

Thirty-two and a winner
Budweiser softens the lines
on the stars and stripes eagles
on her thin, strung-out cheeks
on the slot machine idol
and the blaring of the lights.

He was just a film professor I fell in love with, in the days of Super 8 and nights
of hand splicing millimeters.

We always ended up, talking for hours and drinking coffee in a 24 hour diner,
where I would sketch ideas on the back of cheap paper place mats,
as he sat, outlined in red, as if his edges were on fire.

Mostly his wild pass-the-salt-and-pepper please hair.

To distract myself, I'd say order some home fries and for God's sake,
eat them with ketchup.

There was no beer. We were drunk on life.

At the time, it was enough.

One by one, the old red neon letters burned out. He stopped drinking coffee.

And I watched him eat the best blueberry pie,
in flickers of passing car and truck headlights,
almost like frames of film footage, agonizing in the lack of red.

In the mirror that lines the back of the bar
they exchange furtive glances at each other.
When one catches the other one looking
they turn their eyes away as if embarrassed
and pretend to look at something else.

The hours turn into days, the days into weeks
but neither can seem to muster up the courage
to start the conversation.
Perhaps they are both too shy or,
perhaps they have both been burned one too many times.

Their moment finally arrives when their paths cross
on the way to the restroom.
A pause in the action and meek smiles are traded between them.
Did they conspire to themselves that this would be the night
or was it just the random call of nature that broke the ice?

As the bar empties they are one of the few left standing
They exchange their stories as if they’d known each other all their lives.
The days turn into weeks, the weeks into months and the months into years
Later they tell another story to their children about the time they first met
under the red neon beer sign

Under the red neon beer sign
Into awakening dreams
Lifting a pint of the old beer stein
Everything calm, as it seems

Under the red neon beer sign
Sipping back amber and foam
Cherry light on lipstick and frosted lime
Switch to the house ale next round
Under the red neon beer sign
Kay one more pint I will have
God she was grate imisser
somuch yeah just onem ore frrg

Under teh red Neon bEer sign
I think i heard of that shite
small, fat, bald headed technologist be insane
shrrrr mmmmmmmmmzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Lay a line of moths and mosquitoes
who burned and broke and fell
and mark a path, like the floodlights
along the aisle of an airliner, plunging
toward the dark surface of the Earth
spotted with city lights, iridescent
sugar sprinkled between the mountains.

Maybe, I think, a right hook,
would be better than a full circle.
One eye swollen, the other sees clearly,
the moth fluttering, only half alive,
until I, dead drunk, poured a pool
of blood from a cut lip atop it.

The sign flickers, and I don’t know
if the light is bursting, breaking
its bonds, electrons moving
to new orbits, or if light fades
does it drop one valence at a time?
Or all at once, from the twelfth
vale to the first, like a man

whose only memories are tail lights
flickering red, like the bar sign
a warning that those who leave
will never come back, like the bar sign
a warning, that those those who enter
will never leave.

When the axle breaks, we all fall
off the wagon.

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