Charles Wax

A Paper Coat To Protect Against the Cold

“Some folks ain’t never gonna make it, ”
said Willie Benney, “don’t ask me why
but that’s the truth
so if they can’t live in this world
they dream of another world
and maybe that
other world’s gonna be better for ‘em.
I been trying to get to that
improved place for fifty-five years
through vodka. Now, well,
I figure I just gotta live in this one.”
“How old are you? ” I asked.
“Sixty? ” I blurted out,
“but just before you said
you were drinking for fifty-five years.”
Benny smiled saying,
“Started when I was five,
couldn’t help it since my ma was a drunk
and I wanted to be close to her
so I did like her—
guzzle vodka.
Course she couldn’t afford
no fancy booze but any stuff will do
if your heart’s tortured.”
“Is your mother dead? ” I whispered.
“What the hell you think? ”
“I really don’t know.”
“A drunk don’t live long.”
“You’re still around.”
“God loves me.”

Submitted: Sunday, February 15, 2009

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