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Sometimes I think about
all the times I could have died,
just by merging onto 35

Or the night
you probably shouldn't
have driven us home
because the next morning
you couldn't remember
ever feeling
the steering wheel
in your hands

Or every time I had cut
just a little too deep,
because I never worried
about the location
of arteries

So many almost
fatal moments,
add them all up
and my luck
is due
to run out soon
I thought I found the best
A god among the rest
But it was just a test
It's just a jest

A joke to show me I'm not real
To show me I'll never truly feel
How to love in life
Without the strife

Without the pain of past
Showing me it can't last
A fist full of lies
Punching the inner me as it dies

I'm on my last bump of hope
As if it's a form of dope
Thinking I'm gonna be alright
Without the will to fight

I just lie here and frown
I'll wear my smiling painted mask
And I'll drown
In enough liquor to fill an endless flask
I am going to dig through
dumpsters today; alone or
with a fellow aluminum
cowboy.Our treasure is
cans.Thank God for
redemption.Each can is
worth a nickle, and if
we get enough of these
shiny miracles, we can
get a pint of *****,
our oasis in the desert.

I sift through trash bags
full of cat **** and broken dreams.
I find: losing lottery tickets,
broken costume jewelry, unwanted
books, and a ***** magazine.
I examine the jewelry closely,
hoping for a diamond or real pearls;
some silver or gold, something I
can pawn or sell and turn into
liquor- no such luck.
The whole thing smells like
death, and ****, and a
city dump in July.

Sometimes I think it
would be easier to just
quit drinking, but to do it
abruptly could **** me,
the withdraw seizures can be deadly.
As the sun begins to set
on Iowa City, the sky
looks like a butterfly melting.
I haul my black garbage bag, full
of cans, over my shoulder
down the railroad tracks, and
across highway 6.
I stop to ***** behind
a building, then wipe my
face and continue on to
the store- to be redeemed.
I'm back in the psyche ward again.
It's my home away from home,
next to jail and the emergency room.
I sat under the bridge the other night.
It was January, and extremely cold.
I was jonesing for a drink—I knew what I had to do.
I had only been out of jail for a
couple of days for another public intox.
I narrowly avoided going back to the can today.
My nut-job girlfriend said,
"Why don't you get us some wine? " "Sure, " I said.
Shaking and sick, I walked a mile to
my favorite store that I steal ***** from.
I arrived, and had a bad feeling, but I
don't pay much attention to feelings anymore.
In and out is always the plan.
A bottle of chardonnay down the front
of the pants, and one in the coat.
I thought I had it. I was wrong.
A customer saw me and snitched me off.
I went with the manager to his office.
A cop showed up shortly afterwards.
I engaged the store-guy with talk of literature.
It turned out he was an
English major.
I wrote down the title of my book,
and slipped it to him. He put the paper
in his wallet. He told the cop that I was very cooperative.
Instead of taking me to jail,
the cop gave me a citation with a
court date on it, and let me go.
Sometimes, providence smiles on me.
On my way back to the apartment,
I was already planning the next store to hit,
I needed a drink.
The cop, from the store, pulled up along side of me,
and said,
"Your girlfriend called, she said she didn't
want you at her place anymore.
All your stuff is in front of her door."
I felt like I'd been run over by a rhino.
The cop said,
"I'll give you a lift, jump in."
When I arrived, there were two loosely
packed bags of clothes weighing around 100 pounds.
There was no way in hell that I could
have carried all that crap eight miles to Iowa City.
I grabbed a back pack, and stuffed it with a pair
of jeans, two shirts, my writing, and a copy of Don Quixote.
I went outside and waved to the cop, then headed towards town.
I finally made it back to the bridge.
I waited to get the nerve to make
my next move—steal wine.
I did it, and with no cork *****,
I opened it with a broken ink pen.
I'm not complaining, it was the needed elixir
and it went down like nectar of the gods.
I drank it quick, it was three degrees out.
Life had to change.
This was getting real old.
She drinks beer and farts like a sailor.
She cusses like someone with Tourette's.
She complains constantly,
like it gets her high. She's never read a book,
and the look on her face when I
bring up Hemingway, Bukowski, or Gogol
is something to see.
She doesn't have the faintest clue what
fidelity means. Yet, with all of
her shortcomings, I've never met a woman that
could **** like her. It's magical; sometimes
I think she put a spell on me;
our ****** chemistry is mythological. She rides me like
I'm the wild frontier. She makes the cutest
face when she comes.
Sometimes, I wonder if Papa, Buk, or Nicolai
had it this good?
Besides, who doesn't like drinking beer and farting?
And after a glorious night with her,
I'm pretty sure that reading is overrated.
Thomas W Case May 12
Our relationship is toxic, like a river of ****
or a mercury stained fish,
We argue all the time—we hit each other.
We bring up past indiscretions and affairs.
After we haven't seen each other for a while,
it all starts off well enough;
we're like dogs in heat.
We **** constantly, then the inevitable
moment comes when one of us will say, "…and
wouldn't a glass of wine be nice? "
"Yes, yes it would."
Then it turns into bottles of wine,
then *****, then you calling the cops
and getting me kicked out.
Next thing I know I'm under a bridge
in the middle of ******* winter.
You're in your nice warm apartment drinking
your Chardonnay, dancing with
your toothless neighbor and
driving around with your ex-boyfriend.
I can drink myself to death on my own;
I don't need some wack-job to help me.
At times your ****** might have
been my warped little god,
but it's time I excommunicate myself
from the church of your *******.
I used to crush
lightning bugs on
my face. I thought
I would glow in
the dark.
I don't, although,
my liver has given me
a nice jaundice cast.
Almost Miami tan.
The other night
she
punched me, then called
the cops- blood everywhere.
She went to jail for
five days.
She acted like it was
an eternity.
We ****** last night until
we were raw.
Today, she's a stranger;
self centered and
self absorbed.
I've been drinking Cooking Sherry
to keep from having seizures.
She couldn't care less.
She brought home a
six pack and gave me one
beer.
Oh well,
I knew she was no Iris when
I met her.
I just didn't realize she
was Nightshade.
You want me to lay
In the dark silence with you-
I cannot do this
I remember walking miles with
our blackies (big garbage bags)
They were full of cans, a nickel a piece.
We were poor aluminum cowboys.
Kind of like Don Quixote and Sancho.
Chivalry wasn't our thing, but we
didn't shy away from it either.
We certainly had our share of
adventures, and misadventures too.
We headed East into the
glorious tangerine and lavender sky of
our La Mancha/Iowa City.
We should be chasing windmills, and
*****, and cigarette butts;
except late one Summer day,
providence ended it all.
We sat behind our castle
(which closely resembled a grocery store.)
Your face went pallid and you fell on me.
I did C.P.R until the ambulance arrived.
You didn't make it.
I hope there are
adventures in Heaven,
my aluminum cowboy.
A tribute to my friend
It's hard to understand, unless
you've been there.
There is a pull to the streets.
I can't count how many dead
end jobs I've held—how many roach
infested rooms I've
crashed in.
The inevitable day comes when
I tell the boss, "*******, I don't need this ****! "
I walk out into the misty
afternoon—I look left, then right.
I drowned out thoughts of the future with
a cheap pint of *****.

I see one eye George on my travails,
he's half lit—living in the woods.
"Don't let the ******* get you down." He says, as he
stumbles by bent, and taking a standing eight count.
Mickey the ****** stops me a
block from my flop-house.
"Tommy boy, I'm sick…gotta couple of bucks so
an old drunk can get well? "
I slip him a five.
He says with a tear in his eye,
"God bless you Tommy—you know I
had it all, I'm afraid the
streets own me now."
"Keep your chin up" I say as
I plummet down the
street, pretending
tomorrow is a decade away.

I climb the three flights of
stairs to my room,
slip the key in the lock,
turn the ****—it opens.
"I love these little miracles" I say under
my breadth.
My three legged cat Walter saunters up to
me—he's white with marmalade splotches.
He does his best to rub up against
my leg—I pet his matted fur.

I passed out in an alley one
night, and woke up to Walter lying next to me.
I think something crawled into
my ear and made a home,
it's been there ever since.

I crash down on my chair,
and watch Walter scratch at
the door with his one front leg.
He hasn't been neutered—he gets the
pull of the streets.
I let him out and take a long swig of
the *****—the potion does its magic.
Life doesn't look so bad,
there will be other jobs, and I still have
two weeks left in this
dump of a room.
A writer needs four walls—yet there is
always

the pull of the streets.
My tour de force
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