I’m sitting at Papi’s Cuban in ATL Terminal T
when the man across the bar gets his second stein of beer, which is fine by me,
but he hasn’t even finished his first, and its 8:30
A.M. and I’m just trying to get breakfast—so once
the waitress drops his beer off and comes to me I order two eggs by themselves
and she responds, You mean á la Carte?, and I say Sure,
yeah, I’ll have yucca fries too, and I wonder if the man
across the bar ordered his first beer á la Carte too,
and it somehow turned into a not so á la Carte
drinking session about the time I showed my face there—
But a part of me says let’s dispense with the bullshit,
there ought to be no French involved with ordering food
in an airport terminal, no fucking latinate—
a colleague once said during class that Gilles Deleuze
died due to defenestration, a statement followed
with rapid googling by all students in attendance,
which gave a quick answer: to be thrown out a window.
You know, perhaps if I’d enrolled in a private school
I could have cleared my throat and said Surely,
you mean autodefenestration and he’d have blushed,
but there are no private schools where I’m from—besides, I just
learned that Ohio almost borders Canada,
or, if you’re feeling fancy, you could say that it lies
directly adjacent, or perhaps if you’re really slick,
Ohio’s just yonder next to whatchamacallit.
In the end, I’m a poet, not a geographer,
and I wasn’t taught much about maps or rhyme schemes—
yet here I am writing poems, and you reading them.
But what is truly important to note in all this fancy
bullshit is that to try hard is to skirt dangerously
close to divine retribution; think of Babylon,
Icarus, or how this New Year’s Eve I was witness
to a CNN feed projected onto a bar wall
which showed a woman dressed up in a mermaid costume
having champagne poured on her ass in a kiddie pool,
and I was so stunned by the decadence of it all
that I turned to my friend Sean and asked if perhaps, we,
like the Romans of yore, are an empire in decline,
which, if you get down to it, is just another way
to ask if we are living in the end times, if perhaps
the apocalypse is truly nigh and for the sake
of hedging bets we ought to start sacrificing calves
or first born children, or ask if we know a bird
watcher or seer—anyone who can tell us portents
or speak the dead languages all at the same time!
Where have all the demigods gone when we need them most?
Thrown from windows, likely, into the dark of night,
never to return, never to burst into the bar
and tell me I’m here to save you! to which I’d respond
You mean á la Carte? I’d never leave my friends behind!
So, maybe that’s not what I meant to ask Sean that night,
maybe it wasn’t even meant to be a question,
maybe it was just a fancy way to say I love you,
I love your red velvet jacket, I love dancing in suits
and spilling liquor on brass cuff links, and I love most
that I was alone that New Years Eve, but come midnight,
two friends kissed my cheeks, and we began to glitter and burn
in the dim of the bar, the light coming off our skin
as we whirled and danced and ate the soaked maraschinos
out our cocktails, the new year pouring out from our lips.
Will Anderson received his B.A. in Creative Writing from Florida State University. He worked in the timber industry for a time and taught high school English before returning to FSU to pursue his MFA. His work has appeared most recently in Entropy Magazine and Book XI.