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Carson Pynes

Mary — a Recipe

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First, 2 oz. vodka
Then 4 oz. tomato juice
Lemon comes next,
Then Tobasco, Worcestershire,
Citrus wedge and celery stick.

For a Bloodie Marie; Anisette.
Wasabi for a Tokyo Mary.


They say Hemingway perfected this recipe,
but Hemingway gets credit for everything,
turning water into daiquiris, rum into wine.
Whose Son does he think he is?

The truth is,
I'd rather drink Damiana from the bottle,
Incan Goddess aphrodisiac, or maybe sip absinthe, drink Strega and schnapps,
The Witch's Malice, black liquid mobility,
but it's only 11 am on a Tuesday.

Rule #1: Omit Needless Words.

The teeth that loveliness fed leave bite marks
on the lime wedge. I know a girl who
only drinks Manhattans. She wears her hair pinned.

Rule #2: Place yourself in the background

L plays the Girl-Next-Door.
E gets the role of Blue-Eyed Blonde.
I'm cast as The Red-Headed Slut.

Words and expressions commonly misused:
Me. You. Us. Them.
Virgin. Whore. Saint. Savior.
Mix and strain into a highball glass.
Serve over ice.

Rule #3: Be clear.

The adjective "worthwhile" is acceptable, but emaciated. I have a cilantro allergy, and
every time I'm served a gin drink made with Tanqueray, I want to throw things.
When I drink with Papa Hemingway, he pours me a double Sapphire with just a wicked splash of quinine. Canny bastard wearing a sharp
crown of fishhooks? Thinks he can walk on water.

Rules #4, 5, and 6 govern the Goddesses:

In the temple, Tokyo Mary lights a cigarette
for the ancestors.
Strega Schnapps and the red-headed jellybean witch call for more tequila, while Damiana braids her hair with orange blossom.

I place myself in the background.

The adjectives are all acceptably emaciated,
but We Three utter spells, moribund hexes muttered by the Tripartite Battle-Goddess of Girl-Next-Door,
Blue-Eyed Blonde,
And Mary.

Proving Ground

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"Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector"
– Graham Greene


We're driving through El Centro at dusk and I think I can smell Paris burning.
Wicker banishment with a cold beer and clam shell means that
"Never on a Sunday" becomes a deep-six cosmic striptease
performed by the cleaning lady of a cheap highway motel in Kingman, Arizona.
It's a long way from Ireland and our skin is sunburnt apricot.
We're heading to the Proving Ground, trying to buck off Ohio
with a moonlit chip shot.
"What the fuck is Cointreau?" is written on my palm.

There's cherry cobbler and strawberry margaritas to the southeast.
Somewhere on the Apache Indian Reservation, I think
"We might run out of gas" but we don't. I remember the first time
I told him I love him, it was bitter winter and I was drunk off champagne in the bathtub.
Clothes on. No bathwater.
Dental floss on the countertop and his paintings hanging on the walls in the next room.

True blue, baby. I'll tell you this for free;
I'm banished, trying to find the nearest ocean in a landlocked state
while driving along the U.S./Mexico border with a non-citizen in the passenger seat.
We're leaving tonight. The volatile effervescence of psychotic English whizzes along
lickity-split and I'm racing. It's night-time
and I'm running into the waves. My skirt is soaked and we're shouting, we've found
the Proving Ground. The Promised Land. We're here.

Earth, Texas

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We sat at your cracked, red-lacquer table,
the carved wooden spoon and fork hung on the wall above your head.
In the next room, there was the deep-blue armchair where Gardner Sanderson
watched the football game, and slept in the heat of the afternoons,
while you made Jell-O salad, ambrosia, fried okra and honey-ham,
fed me gingersnaps while I sat on the counter, legs dangling,
gazing out the window at the West-Texas
well pump, the only thing to draw the eye was the dinner bell
with the wasp nest inside, Gazing at the nothing –
dust and cattle and cotton and cobalt sky.

you sat at the cracked red table after he was gone,
with your hands over your mouth as the preacher-man asked, what did you want him to say
at the service. For Gardner.
For you. Your hands shook.
I wanted to tell the preacher-man about Paw-Paw sitting at the kitchen table
with a packet of animal crackers, eating the ones with broken legs first
because it was more humane.

I wanted you to tell the preacher-man the story about Paw-Paw's thumbs, about how he lost the tips of them in an accident with the tractor,
about how you drove him to the hospital, you were speeding,
he was bleeding all over the car,
you got pulled over,
lights flashing red-blue-red-blue,
so he held up the stumps of his thumbs and the policeman let you go.

I wanted to tell him about the way the Big Red soda pop tasted,
lukewarm fizzy liquid bubblegum from the vending machine in the hospital after his first stroke.
After that, I don't think my great-grandfather knew about me anymore.
He called me by Aunt Leanne's name a couple times.
I didn't mind,
but you only said to the preacher-man,
"I don't know what to do here without him."
and then you dropped your face into your hands,
a penny in West-Texas well water
and you cried.
I left the lacquer-cracked red table.
I went to the living room, to sit in the deep blue chair.

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