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Having a Coors With You

You handed me my first beer
and I watched it froth over,
the bottle sweating; the whole
experience as physical as if it
were my first kiss with you.
But that was later and (I’m sorry)
a less formative adventure.

Your smile dared me before
your words could dare me.
But I was still swallowing
my early Quranic lessons
when you bared the underside
of your chin to me. It bobbed
as you drank, quivering
like your pale calf that day
we biked four long hours
to the Dairy Cream and you
got a cramp and stifled tears.

Somehow, I chugged my drink
while starring at your earrings:
the drops made up like matchbooks.
I recall thinking, as the coolness
coated my throat, that I’ve always
been the water to your fire.
You were a three-block inferno,
and I was a drip that sizzled.
I thank God for that every day.

The bottles looked kinda sad
when empty; those few small
bubbles in a ring at the bottom,
huddled together like witnesses
to a trespass too big to forgive.
The beer swelled in my stomach,
sank it heavily like the Black Stone
of Mecca, dense with the world’s sin.

I felt existence take one step away
from me and brighten in new colors.
But I was taught the hell-bound
moan in pleasure as they fall.

Then, you punched my arm
(why did you constantly hit
me for no fucking reason?),
and the giant that was your
laughter was shadowed by
the titan that was my belch.

It actually smelled nice, you
said. Like fresh sourdough
and the warm summer wind.

I’m not as stupid as you
used to call me sometimes.
I knew you were joking.
But I need you to know
that I tasted that bread
and sunshine. And after
that burp, all things in me—
the holy books, their dust,
and my tendency to admire
flowers but never pluck—
were breathed away.

All that was left was untethered air.
You held on without weighing down,
Lifting, always lifting, with your fire.

About the Author
Sal Bhatti is a career editor, formerly the prose lead at Zoetic Press. His feature writing appear in Boulevard Magazine, and his poetry won second in The Hart House Review’s 2021 competition. He wrote the first draft of this poem on the back of a pizza box. The pizza was pretty good.

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