Wednesday, October 31, 2018


I know I’m too old for this shit
but I when came back from pissing
and some dude was lounging on my stool
trying to chat up my wife

I stepped in and said “Can I get my seat back?”

and he looked me over
then looked over my wife

and said “You’re married to her?”
    heavy on the you and her
    to highlight the obvious
discrepancy in our looks

but he said it in a nice Irish brogue

which means
he’s either from Ireland
and vacationing in Pittsburgh

or he grew up in Pittsburgh
eating corned beefed sandwiches
and has been drinking Guinness
since noon.

Either way, I took it as a compliment—
people are often shocked that someone
as un-good-looking as me
married someone as good-looking
as my wife.

I took back my stool
and the Irish guy
disappeared into the bar.

I said to my wife “How was he?”

and she said “Kind of obnoxious but harmless”

and we went back to drinking and talking
until we were done.

As we were leaving

and here’s the part I’m too fucking old for

the Irish guy, in his friendly fake-ass Irish way
challenged me
to what I think was
a head-butting contest

so before we could work out the details
I head-butted him
right on his fucking forehead
using the top of my skull
which is not good for much else

and he stumbled back
and grabbed his forehead
then tried to look up
and tried to force a smile
which is what harmless but obnoxious people do
when confronted by their own harmless obnoxiousness.

I said “Have a good night”

and my wife and I made our way
through the crowd and onto Carson Street.

She said “That was a lot of fun”

and I said “Yeah, Smoking Joe’s is a good bar.”

Dave Newman is the author of six books, includingPlease Don’t Shoot Anyone Tonight (Broken River Books, forthcoming 2018), the novella Sammy Drinks Canned Beer (White Gorilla Press, forthcoming 2018), The Poem Factory (White Gorilla Press, 2015), the novels Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children (Writers Tribe Books, 2012) andTwo Small Birds (Writers Tribe Books, 2014), and the collection The Slaughterhouse Poems (White Gorilla Press, 2013), named one of the best books of the year by L Magazine. Winner of numerous awards, including the Andre Dubus Novella Prize, he lives in Trafford, PA, the last town in the Electric Valley, with his wife, the writer Lori Jakiela, and their two children. He works in medical research, serving elders.

1 comment:

  1. It's not just Pittsburgh bars that are full of Irish guys like that, try Dublin, Cork, Galway bars too...

    Really cool poem.


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