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Bars
from Jim Harrison's
Saving Daylight (Paperback)

Too much money-talk sucks the juice
out of my heart. Despite a fat wallet
I always become a welfare mother trying to raise
the price of a chicken for my seven children,
the future characters of my novels
who are inside me wanting to go to a bar.
They're choking on unwritten book dust and need
a few drinks as much as I do. (We're all
waiting to see what we become when we're grown up.)
Everyone smart knows that alcohol is life's
consolation prize for the permanently inconsolable.
Even my unborn characters who right now
are simpleminded demons sense the drinks
waiting for them when their bodies reach solid ground.
At four PM I resist for moments, head for the Bluebird
where in the parking lot I become a prescient animal,
probably a stray dog, hearing the ass-cheek squeak
of a woman passing on the sidewalk. A small male
fly follows her swinging left ankle and smiles
looking upward in the season of summer dresses.
One drink and I'm petulant. Men in golf clothes
are talking about the stock market where once
men talked of farming, hunting, fishing, the weather.
If Holly weren't sitting jauntily on a bar stool
I'd gulp and bolt. Something about a bar stool
that loves a woman's bottom. Vodka makes me young
but not young enough and the men keep saying Lucent
Lucent Lucent. Secret powers only allow
me two drinks before dinner so I head to Dick's Tavern
where actual working men talk of fishing,
crops, bankrupt orchards, the fact that the moon
is a bit smaller than it used to be. No one says Lucent,
only that the walleyes are biting short, but Lucent,
this preposterous French word afflicting so many
with melancholy, carries me back to Paris
where dozens of times I've entered the Select
on Montparnasse with hungry heart and mind.
When I'm there next month I'll order my bottle
of Brouilly, perhaps a herring salad, say "Lucent"
loudly to a woman to see what happens. Wine
makes me younger than vodka and while I drink
I'll pet the cat who after a dozen years will finally
sit on my lap, and think we're better at nearly
everything than the French except how to live life,
a small item indeed. Once I left the Select
for the airport, de Gaulle, and twenty-four hours
later I was sitting in my cabin in the Upper Peninsula
waiting for a sow bear and two cubs to leave
the clearing so I could go to the bar, The Dunes Saloon,
and think over France in tranquility. The idea
of going to this bar draws in creature life. Once in the driveway
a female wolf stood in my headlights and nodded,
obviously the reincarnation of a girl I knew
who drowned in Key West where I first discovered
that one drink can break the gray egg that sometimes
encloses you, two drinks help you see this world.
Three drinks and you're back inside the gray egg. 

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Kenn Bear Hiser reviews

Mr Harrison had a profound effect on me as to what it meant to be a man in this modern world. I am not sad as much for his passing over to the mystery, but that once he and our other grandfather's of the spirit past , so many young men will#

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