Last Call


Last night, as I lay muddled,
in my whiskey-soaked slumber,
A wraith-like mist appeared;
blue-black and musty scented
in tattered rags dipped in dust.

My burning sleep-clenched eyes
could not squeeze the scepter gone.
Her orbs, two onyx stones
set above translucent cheeks;
her mouth, a gaping maw
spewing ruby-red flames.
She floated on an icy breeze
scented with blood and bitters.

“Last call!” she hissed,

pouring me two bony fingers
of amber absolution,
judgment oozing from
her snake-coiled tongue.
I listened to the familiar tinkle
of liquefied reasoning cascading
across ice-cubed rebuttals.

Fear terrorized me,
stroking my belly with cold hands.
My gut curveting far and high
like smoke-flecked stallions
raking the black sky
with their steel-sparked shoes.

the earth reached up
with vise-gripped soiled fingers
grasping my naked ankles
and pulled down my saturated bones;
my drunken soul laid out and set
beneath lichen-laced granite.

Jagged stone-edged knives
etched my name
and this, the year of my drunken descent.

Summer Moonshine (by Dennis McHale, 2017)


I remember this story my daddy told,
when he was a young man
– most of his life he was a lay minister
in the Baptist church down Brevard way;
but when he was a young man
he was fairly rough and restless
and made a good deal of whiskey
and during the depression he and a cousin
– there was no work,
it was really hard times in them mountains ,
so they would load up this model A Ford
with wood carvings they had whittled some,
(in the winter when they was no farmin’)
and moonshine whiskey and travel to Washington D.C.
and there were street vendors, ‘fore the capital building
and they would have a little place there on the street
where they would sell wood carvings,
but I guess where the real money came from,
enough money to pay for the gasoline,
was from them selling a little summer moonshine
to the politicians, I ‘spect, to wash the shame down.

The Putricity of the Florida Keys


Time crawls in the Florida Keys;
minutes drip like thick molasses.
The ocean is devoid of waves
and the beaches are two feet wide.
An endless wind rattles the palms
from which graying coconuts drop and rot.
The smell of brackish swamps assaults the nose
with odors reminiscent of death and decay.

The elderly crawl slowly upon the roadways
like hermit crabs scuttling aimless and angry.
It is a horrid little place where the bars
far outnumber the churches and the overpowering
stench of cheap liquor clogs the air, lightly infused
with the strewn garbage filling darkened back allies.

Key West is little more than a vacuum
sucking money from the billfolds of sweaty
unsmiling tourists, offering nothing of value in return.
Biting gnats choke the air andleave your arms and faces
puss-filled and swollen.

Restaurants there defile the sacrifice of the
local fish by deep-frying everything
and serving it with a side of warm and wilted slaw.

Hemingway’s house is like-wise defiled;
bricked in and gated, overrun by smelly six-toed cats.
The Keys are nothing more than a dribble of piss
lightly shaken from the dangling penis that is Florida.


I’m bowed and broken, unrepentant
Lived my life a devoted bacchant
Stumbling through with no direction
Numb to love and all affection

Drowned what courage might have been
In weekend bouts of liquid sin
I sought a higher caste, I swear
The richness was too much to bear

Locked within damnation’s chains
I’m lost within my pain and shame
My servitude extends eternal
My destiny, it seems, infernal

My path to hell is clearly cut
Redemption’s door soundly shut
I will not beg for a better end
My life was mine alone to spend