Economies of Scale
This, she learned her first day
at bartending school:
make six at once. You won’t need
to sell your soul in a bikini
for a decent job, your tips
will be to the moon and back,
just how you love
your kids and the man
who made them.
To the men with their ungainly
step, iron-toed boots, biceps
and lunchboxes passed
from their fathers, pictures
of fighters and pin-ups
in lids, a prayer on the bottom
for safe days and safe keeping,
she made Jack and Gingers
all night, five-thirty till close.
For the women, smooth and silky,
graceful as the sound of nightbirds
in dark trees along the river,
sadness a fable of loss on their faces,
she made perfect White Russians—
well vodka, Kahlua, real cream,
the same cream she’d pour
in their coffees before they were escorted
to anywhere. Where they came to a bar,
so did the men. She judged not.
She smiled, watched the night air
tremble with cold, pocketed their warm cash,
eyed the clock, listened
to pick-me-up tunes on the jukebox.
No one lingered in the doorway,
asked what she was doing later,
just like she wanted. Freed in the chinablue
moonlight she heads home, heart suing for peace.
By Tobi Alfier
Tobi Alfier (Cogswell) is a multiple Pushcart nominee and a multiple Best of the Net nominee. Her current chapbooks include “Down Anstruther Way” (Scotland poems) from FutureCycle Press, and her full-length collection “Somewhere, Anywhere, Doesn’t Matter Where” is forthcoming from Kelsay Books. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).