:: Article

Three Poems

By Tim Tomlinson.

From Stool Samples: Vieux Carre


Without warning, the off-duty cop bolts
off his barstool pistol drawn, wheels and
unloads seven shots into the life-sized
cut-out of Crocodile Dundee that once
stood at the bar’s entrance. “I fuckin’ hate
Australia,” he explains, and shoulder-holsters
his weapon. Not a sound—from the bar,
the pool table, even the jukebox falls
silent. Till:  “Drinks for everyone,” he tells
the horse-faced bargirl, and as everyone
steps softly to the bar, the off-duty
cop back pedals out a side door. For hours 
the bargirl keeps serving. The cop does not
return. Discussion avoids Australia.


It’s the fourth day of Jeff’s bender, his twelfth
game of Pac-Mania in a row. His
friends sit at the bar, drinking. His wife, who
knows? She’s pissed, he’s pissed, this could run a week,
maybe more if he starts winning. But he’s
distracted by some business at the bar.    
The barman sets a mug of something clear
at Emmet’s fist. “Yo, brother, what you
drinking?” Jeff says, blowing another game.
Emmet forces his lids up sight high. “This?”
he says, tapping the mug. “Water. You want
some?” Jeff recoils like a vampire from
a cross. “Water?” he says, shuddering. “That’s
OK. I think I had some this morning.” 

Miracle on Decatur Street, New Orleans

For fifteen minutes in late December
every barstool on Decatur Street emptied
and every drunken regular stumbled
outside with arms wide open in the snow
falling in chunks through the wet black night.
There were cheers, cries, and one broken ankle.
Back inside, any money left scattered
on the bars was gone. Was it worth it, some 
asked. Others said you don’t put a price on
miracles. “Weather ain’t a miracle,”
a newcomer said, and he became a
suspect. So did the bargirl who came out
of the ladies room holding a toothbrush. 
“Don’t look at me,” she said, and they didn’t.

Tim Tomlinson is a co-founder of New York Writers Workshop, and co-author of its popular text, The Portable MFA in Creative Writing. He is fiction editor of the webzine Ducts. Recent fiction and poetry appear or are forthcoming in Perigee, Pif, Del Sol Review, Hanging Moss Journal, and Tongues of the Ocean. He currently resides in Florence, Italy.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Wednesday, January 14th, 2009.