Issue 23 | Fall 2019

In the Bar at the Edge of Town

I hear stories about myself I don’t remember.
I mean I see them. Synesthesia, the sound

of wet light, the night slit open
and dribbling down my throat.

My xylophone of days dings
dissonant as strangers waking up together,

I talk with two tongues. I’m full of shit; or,
as we say in the academy, facetious. I can’t

keep an identity, only a trash heap of symbols
by the door guffawing or grieving, I don’t know

where my story went but hear it out there
like the methane-sick canary

thumping in the mine. I speak Dionysian.
Half-civil, in the key of the dog dragging

away my face, running with it over the hills.
I’m sorry too honey. Here’s a bar of music

or a bar wet with glass rings,
a double vodka soda or the mythic

double, my sexy shadow suffocating me
with a grand piano string. That’s right. I wring

my own neck now. In the recurring dream
where I kill myself I hear

footsteps in the hall,
see a house with no walls

smell that fat Hell
of trumpeting sky. I have the blues.

I have the reds. I vomited blood on the bed.
Listen. I have no ear for music but music

won’t leave me alone. It dry heaves,
pours itself another,

the hair of the dog. I’ll forgive the animals
for their honest violence when I’m dead, not

a second sooner. I have a habit and the habit
has me but I have the habit more. I have it

just enough more. Tonight I’m throwing
an extravagant party, God, how I dread it.

Filed under: Poetry

Clare Welsh is a writer and photographer based in Pittsburgh. A graduate of the MFA program at the University of New Orleans, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, The New Delta Review, Puerto Del Sol, McSweeny’s Internet Tendencies, The Midwest Review, and other places in print and online. Her chapbook Chimeras is available through Finishing Line Press.