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?”