99 pints on the
side of the road

four miles
of dirty-drunk bottles
discarded on the cold shoulder road
you walk
night after night after night
sipping bitter salt and rubbing open
old wounds

four miles
of hollowed out chest
and improper possibility
leaching into land passed down
for seven generations
of food in the belly
no one wanted to harvest

four miles
of fuel for the red-lipped
rage that lines your palm
and marks your forehead with
furrows deep enough for planting
the seed you cannot reclaim
or purchase

four miles
between you and the house
never built
by too many logs and not enough sky
the stars were your compass
before you chugged them
in a toast to disappointment

four miles
of mud-caked proof
and not enough leaving one
last sip for the lean wasted soul
soon to follow your dedicated footsteps
to the same oblivious
abandoned address



I’m not big on explaining poems, but this one has a story.
On my block, a four-mile-around country block that circles farmland,
there are dozens of discarded whiskey bottles lining the ditch.
Dozens. This has been going on for years.
A sad mystery with its own story,
begging to be told.


A poem a day for 30 days, in honor of National Poetry Month.
This post is part of NaPoWriMo.
Also joining in with PAD (poem a day) over at Writer’s Digest.




4 Responses to “99 pints on the
side of the road”

  • Michael Says:

    Deep into the month and you are growing stronger with each day. This is a chilling and masterful portrait of a soul unseen.

  • Maery Rose Says:

    I agree with Michael. I love that you created this story from the mysterious bottles on the side of the road. And what I love about poetry is how it can speak to many things. What I heard was the story of my brother, who wasn’t a farmer, but dug his grave with broken bottles, trying to fill up a bottomless emptiness. The rage, the weariness, your words expressed it all.

  • grapeling Says:

    you’ve lensed the anaphora so effectively. powerful, mysterious, and sad ~

  • Steve King Says:

    What a sad puzzle. You’ve done a wonderful job in making it a compelling drama.
    Steve K.

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