This is where you make your wishes
after all, three sheets to the wind,
thumb rubbing up the brown glassy condensation, wistful,
dreaming of Kristobal or Mirabella or Carlos,
in your bars and your nightclubs, sweat and grind,
the neck of the bottle between long forefinger and palm
obsessively rubbing, up, down, up, down
and the last thing you expect is the wisp of steam
as you pop the top to turn into… me.
Everybody has to start somewhere
Not everyone gets the ancient lamp,
the intricate cushions and arabic script.
It’s not like there’s much of a market any more,
anyway, so some of us have to make do.
Like now, shouting over the music so you can hear me.
First time for both of us, awkward; you’re
half-convinced I’m trying to pick you up,
can’t believe your luck, and half-think I’m lost.
“Three Wishes?” you yell. “Never heard of it.
But what’s wrong with this place? Stick around!”
The randomness of the contract always
rubbed me up the wrong way, if you’ll forgive
the expression. Every young genie hopes for
a star-struck story or a whirlwind of possibility
and every one of us dreads the selfish oafs
with petty, stunted, nubby urges to grandeur
tinged with despair. I’m trying to nudge you
towards sobriety when you mutter, sotto voce,
“I wish every single thing I try to do right
didn’t bloody backfire,” and just like that,
I’m careening down avenues of negative logic
and trying to work out what I’m supposed to do
with a wish like that, a grade 7 convolution,
on my first time out, seriously, like —
would fixing one thing satisfy the criterion
or is the operative word ‘every’? And ‘backfire’ —
not exactly precise, as a term, not even slightly.
I slouch back against the bar, running parameters,
I look at you. You’re why I’m in this mess.
“Buy me a drink?”