The Cost of Routine Booze Madness

One Dollar
by Ryan Hardgrove

the old man
urban poverty thin
strapped behind his beer
and long Pall Mall’s
crustacean scale jowls
burnt red from decades
of routine booze madness

during the day
he sells $5 t-shirts
(fabricated by child slaves
three thousand miles away)
to big-eyed suburban tourists

and as the dull crimson urban dusk sets in
he finds a bar stool
and goes to work
taking long heavy gulps of barely cold beer
small beads of froth
seeping down his yellow-grey straw beard
as one of his Pall Mall’s smolders in the ashtray

his natural filth
mingles with the thin blue plume
pouring from his cigarette
and joins the perpetual
bar room smog
that hangs above the patrons
like leftover stardust
from the drunken supernovas
of yester-night

he makes eye contact with me
for the first time, finally drunk
and he smiles
dead brown stalactites for teeth
wrapped in five day old saliva

he says thank you
and walks calmly out the door
into the black heat of summer night

I slide a crumpled single from beneath
his empty 16oz. can of Iron City
and drop it into my hollow tin bucket

—–

Ryan Hardgrove is currently wading through his late twenties as a feckless bartender and responsible father. He is also a writer and a musician. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his common law wife and their son.

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Published by

hrholt1986

I am a dreamer, as well as a doer, who lives in the North Georgia mountains. I started my publishing journey August of 2013, have had moderate success, but my utmost passion is my "daytime" job, which is working with adults who are constantly striving to better their lives as they obtain the GED credential.

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