His brow grows thoughtful at my question –
if you take into consideration his high forehead,
now crumpled like the pages of a shithouse magazine.
Tasting the venom on his tongue –
forked, no doubt –
he mulls over a response by biting down on his bottom lip.
He downs his drink and belch-orders another whiskey and lime.
The bartender’s eyes flash brass-belled pleas,
Go home already, lads!
but there’s no way in the deepest pits of hell I’m heading home,
not before the man with the magazine frown responds.
A heavy-set barmaid senses trouble;
she’s wiping away –
authoritative strokes –
the impregnated smell of cigarette butts
and stale ale from empty tables.
The front door jerks open –
the wind, thin,
yet strong enough to breathe life into the dying embers,
smoking to light the fireplace with devilish fire tongues.
The silhouette of a man appears the entrance –
axe in hand –
shower curtains of rain behind a set of shoulders so broad,
he could be a walking brick shithouse
wearing stained magazine pages for clothes.
He shuts the door.
The windows rattle.
nestled in the neck folds of the giant’s leather coat,
cocks its under the man’s long, matted locks;
the bird registers its new surroundings
with a flash of intelligence
in the black marble of its whip-smart eyes
before grooming its weather-greased feathers.
My drinking partner breaks the ice
by choking on a cube;
spewin’ and spillin’ the rest of his beverage
down the front of his shirt,
over the cherry wood counter.
His face is pale,
his lips the colour of dead maggots;
no need for him to reply to my query;
the answer I’m looking for walks toward us,
growing larger with each echo of his heavy boots,
the finest crocodile leather money can buy,
shining like the silver of his whiskey flask
reflected in the raven’s eyes:
Bacchus is alive.
words by Ramon Ramirez
art by Craig Hopson