I count two hundred and twenty bottles.
We have two recycling bins, both of which
I fill with care to the brim, not wanting to break the glass,
knowing that it would only be more to clean up
Two hundred and twenty bottles for a long year,
our tenancy charted in peeled labels and first gulps
final sips at the end of every other evening,
so much time given to the drink, amongst lesser
Each bottle has its own back-story, some good,
some bad, some barely remembered, some not at all
our collective memory cloudy as the days passed
in a thin crystal stream emptied from a Bacardi bottle
into the sink.
I know which of the bottles are mine – the many ales,
all carefully curated from the many corners
of the nearby grocery stores, chosen by strength,
colour, brewery, all condemned to the shadow of the bin
with the others.
My steady staples of long night drinking sessions,
stained into the seat cushions and soaked deep
into the fabric of this place, to last long after
the cleaning is complete and all that remains
IPAs for the summer, spirits for sundown,
every drop a slow poison for rough mornings,
the precursor to a steady crawl through a bedroom door
over a sticky floor, the smell of liquor and sweat hanging
heavy upon the house.
I often thought of myself as a craft ale connoisseurs, but
I was only ever a kid dressed like an adult in a sleepy city,
passing days by getting high and therefore getting by,
finding kicks at the bottom of every last bottle,
stacking them like trophies on the shelves in the living room
and choosing to keep my books in boxes instead,
chasing away the boredom of the evening with another beer,
anticipating the headache of the waiting morning,
which was endured two hundred and twenty times between us.
The bins are full, and now the shelves are finally empty,
meaning that for the first time I have a place to perch
my many books of poetry, which provide a different kick
during evenings spent drinking in Bukowski, instead of drinking
like Bukowski. A year of sobriety perhaps to ponder
just how he managed to go through bottle
after bottle after bottle after bottle
and still somehow manage to write something
worth a damn.