by Al Renke
Quiet nights romancing a whiskey bottle
Alone at home, near the edge of town, where the great waste begins.
Three distinct smells ooze from the oven,
and none are particularly nice
Burning cheese, drifting off clumsily made tuna melt sandwiches
Burning crust, from the charred spillage of last night’s dinner
Failure, the rotten stench of another night cooking shitty food alone.
Gloom sets in with the first few tastes
The only light’s from the fridge door opening.
Rows of cheap beer, cheese slices, and hot sauce
No-name brand deli meat. Sticky and slimy and always delicious
Extra anchovies for five-dollar pizzas
Forgotten leftovers. Sad and lonely fruit
Everything in its place, sitting quietly pathetic.
Leave the oven open to share the heat – it’s thirty below out there.
Barricade from cold with giant fuzzy bear slippers.
Abandon shaving. Keep the face warm and hide from the world.
Share the night with a book and a misguided prayer.
Outside is traffic and darkness and snow.
Over here it’s a stiff shot for dessert
and long reflections on nights such as these.
Pour salt on everything.
Gout at twenty-four.
The taste of victory.