drunks and whores

when i worked
on pool tables
and pinball machines
juke boxes and
illegal gambling
a few bars were
open for the
third shift crowd
having a couple
before bed at 8am
and the other
day drinkers were
just beginning
their shifts on
duct tape covered
wobbly barstools
where they would sit
until they either
ran out of money
or ran out of luck
some morning i would
go to collect the
money and work the
numbers on payouts
and talk with the
regulars who were
always happy when i
put some credits on
the juke box or a
couple games on the
bartop touchscreen
for the bored bartender
serving watered down
drinks to these ragtag
professional drunkards
and on occasion i
would stop in after work
and have a drink and
watch them stumble
with bleary eyes and
a bravado missing some
scant eight hours of
hard drinking before
eight five cent schooners
frosted with ice and
filled with yellow swill
thin lines of watery
vomit trailing from
their gaping mouths
and sour booze scent
replaced by sour sweat
i was raised around
little irish bars
or taverns tucked away
in small neighborhoods
where everyone knew
everyone else and they
alternated hating and
loving one another
it didn’t matter a bit
which small town it was
they were all the same
cheap beer served to
people desperately
drinking themselves
to death because it
was all they ever knew
the sleepy eyed third
shift workers trying
to relax enough to sleep
opposite of what their
bodies natural rhythms
self medicated souls
going nowhere together
watching the world from
through empty bottles
doing the only thing
they knew to numb
the erosion of entropy
apathetically dreaming
of their great escape
in inebriated acceptance
say what you will
but they were well aware
of exactly what they were
and that is something
i always found refreshing
i miss the mornings
with the degenerates
when they were still
mostly coherent with
shaking hands holding
the first drink of the day
they would lie to
any and everyone else
but never to themselves
an admirable trait
only found in the
very young or very drunk
and the bitter smiles
of the exhausted whores

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