The Ghost of a Gin and Tonic (Katie Holtmeyer)

started underneath the elusive glow of the sole
flickering streetlight we’d been
catcalled and cornered and caught outside
so maybe we were looking for a little fight

counted by liquor-soaked limes instead of by lore
gave our order as soon as we arrived but
we aren’t allowed coasters at this bar anymore

we both lift up and destroy
everything we touch

at the last hour Zora Neale Hurston once told us
“half-gods are worshipped in wine and flowers”
so we fell off the barstool to plant our knees
on the cement floor and we praised
the poor devil for blessing us with poison

and somehow over the noise then we
waded through the smoke to choke the stalker
next to us the one who trapped and locked us in
made us move in stop motion it’s got to say something
about our devotion that the violence never stops us we’ll

atone for our sins tomorrow when we ask for forgiveness
same wine from last night staining our lips
in a gold chalice in the morning there’s a beautiful irony
and a wonderful warning to being hungover in church

but we weren’t trying to search our souls not then not
that night anyhow and time and tonics
were sticking to the table now so we peeled
ourselves off and ran past the smokers and stray cats into
the postapocalyptic peace of two a.m.

circled back to our friend the streetlight remembered
the bright bar lights and ripped fishnet tights so many omens
that we should have just gone home that night

and came back later she also told us that
“real gods require blood” so we cut our skin
on the barb wire that fenced us in
left our DNA there where the knots cut our hair
but we burned down the scene of the crime
and got out of there just then just in the tick of time

we stopped between a church and the probation office
and the armory skimming our surroundings
and laughing we didn’t care what they’d do to us
not because we thought we were invincible
but because we’d seen enough to know
we’d make it out screaming

and kicking anyone who dared to try us we always
look behind us even when we’re running ahead
it’s a learned and innate behavior
savor the way the pavement switches to grass beneath us
the way the ropes let us fly
the way streetlights and bar lights aren’t all that unlike
the way the liquor-soaked limes let go
the way the train whistle will
always see us home


Katie Holtmeyer is currently in graduate school at Truman State University. Her work has been published on Pocketfire’s Kindling.