Who hasn’t gotten drunk in a bar like this—
near a beach, maybe Florida, on spring break
or a business trip or post-divorce getaway?
Where the neon scrawl of Budweiser
or Coors Light, or the too-green shape of a palm tree
seeps through the dirty screen of cigarette smoke.
No long-expired license plates scale these walls,
no baseball caps on nails. Here,
strung-up fishing nets hold dried detritus—
seaweed, starfish, sand dollars. A mounted sailfish,
the five-foot shell of a loggerhead, a thing
like the blade of a chainsaw—you can’t stop staring.
When the run-ragged bartender brings your fourth margarita,
you point: What the hell? She makes a gesture
that pretends to grow her nose.
And because the tequila has turned your brain
into an ecosystem swimming with trivia, you remember.
Sawfish: dinosaur. Around, you’ve read,
56 million years or more. “Critically endangered.”
You know the type. A sun-blistered, soft-bellied jock
with a rod and reel and switchblade.
Nudged it one step closer toward “likely extinct.”
In fact, there he sits, three stools over, downing shots.
Past time, you lift a fist-sized hunk of coral,
anchor your tip, veer toward the door.
Maybe it’s the booze or maybe not. But you see clear
through the dingy air, the trophy-hung,
salt-damp walls—see the water rising, as though to take
all of it back—the Gulf set to a boil.