What’s on tap? I asked the barmaid.
The barmaid gave me the beer menu.
I see you don’t have the one I want.
What’s that? she asked. Lethe, I said.
I never heard of Lethe, she said,
pronouncing it leth. It’s Lethe, I said.
It’s the name of a river in hell.
Oh, she said. Isn’t that the Styx?
she said, pronouncing it stikes. That’s
a different river, I said. The Styx is
the one you cross to get to hell,
the underworld. The Lethe is the one
you drink from once you’re there
to wash away all your memories, I said.
You forget everything about the upper
world. Oh, she said. I guess that means
we do have it on tap. All the beers do
that, make you forget, don’t they?
she said. Like Lethe IPA, Lethe amber
ale, Lethe stout, Lethe red, Lethe wheat?
She was pronouncing it right. Yes, I said.
You’re absolutely right. I’ll have a Lethe
stout. She wasn’t as dumb as she looked.

J.R. Solonche has published poetry in more than 400 magazines, journals, and anthologies since the early 70s. He is the author of Beautiful Day (Deerbrook Editions), Won’t Be Long (Deerbrook Editions), Heart’s Content (Five Oaks Press), Invisible (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by Five Oaks Press), The Black Birch (Kelsay Books), I, Emily Dickinson & Other Found Poems (Deerbrook Editions), In Short Order (Kelsay Books), Tomorrow, Today and Yesterday (Deerbrook Editions), True Enough (Dos Madres Press), The Jewish Dancing Master (Ravenna Press), If You Should See Me Walking on the Road (Kelsay Books), In a Public Place (Dos Madres Press), To Say the Least (Dos Madres Press), The Time of Your Life (Adelaide Books), The Porch Poems (Deerbrook Editions), Enjoy Yourself (Serving House Books), Piano Music (Serving House Books), For All I Know (Kelsay Books), A Guide of the Perplexed (Serving House Books), The Moon Is the Capital of the World (Word Tech Communications), and coauthor of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). He lives in the Hudson Valley.

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