My next chapter

by Ralkkai

I’m sitting at this thing
drinking Tanzanian coffee
or so it says on the packaging.
“100%
TANZANIAN COFFEE whole bean
MT. KILAMANJARO
100% Arabica Coffee”
I question why it has 100% listed twice.
I picked it up on the cheap
at a commercialized Euro/Asian Market in town.
$5.99/lb.

I’m also drinking one of those
spinach smoothies
that all the younger, hipper health nuts and
sexy people
are into these days.
A big, tall glass of that
green mystery shit
in all its glory, just sitting there
next to my questionable coffee,
next to my 30 year old frame,
at this thing.

And I think about how I somehow
managed to make it
this far.

I think about all my empty CD cases
somewhere in a sand dune in AZ
and I think about my left over baseball
and basketball cards in a basement
in Indiana.

I think about that dark, spare room on
the second floor
of the house I thought I wanted
where I really pounded it out.

I think of the drunken nights at the bar,
after last call,
barbacking for cash and kick-downs of
beer from Courtney, Popa or Cookie.
Courtney and Cookie had a thing for a while
I still keep in touch with them.

I think about fishing and having long hair
in Minnesota,
and stealing quarters out of the busted arcade machine
to play pool with my brother and my cousin
because Space Invaders bored us.

I remember the long nights around camp fires
and in halogen-lit garages with
friends and family,
drinking, laughing, fighting, rinsing and repeating,
until one by one, we would each cash out for the night.
Sometimes, I’d be one of the last
but usually, I’d be one of the first to go.

I think of the long nights with Admiral Nelson’s Vanilla
and bad poker hand after bad poker hand
online
and sometimes in real life,
but with Amber Bock instead,
to keep my head clear.
I also stayed away from pills when playing live.

I remember the names of each girl that
broke my heart.
I try to make them just initials.
D.R., S.F., L.B.
I remember their faces too.

I remember meeting my wife,
on a silly online, role-playing game.
We were both mages.

I remember getting kicked out of a
redneck bar with Tad
after we started a fight with
a preacher and his mistress.

I remember burning Bacardi 151 on the sidewalk
in front of the High School
with John because Trey didn’t get a memorial
after he bit it in his car on the way home
from drinking.
It seemed fitting.

I think of the pizzas at the gas station,
smoking pot and listening to Portishead in Jeremy’s car,
running the streets with Mosley before puberty separated us,
watching the smelly punk chick jump in front
of a white conversion van in Milwaukee, before the show,
getting hit and spilling bits of herself on the concrete.
I remember my first beer and my last cigarette,
and I remember Jameson and sleeping pills…

I think of all these things,
now dusty tomes in my brain
and look at how I’ve made it this far
sitting at this thing
and just doing it.

There is a whore’s glory in
the way my life has turned out
and it is a wonder why I have made it through
some of the nights.
Its a wonder how I have the capability
to keep fighting it,
fighting that urge to
go back
crawl inside my memories and sleep
and never wake.

But I look back on those memories
and I look ahead to what memories
I will make in another 30 years
on this God-forsaken planet.
I look at what I got going for me
and realize that those memories
weren’t bad memories
and I should revel in them
for they are the definition of me,
for they were merely
chapters of my life.

I raise that tall glass of that
green mystery shit
in the air and toast myself:
“Here’s the the chapters that came,
here’s to my next chapter
and here’s to the many chapters to come.
Cheers.”

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