Raising the Bar

   Dylan Thomas falls off his barstool in Heaven.
   Lying on the sawdusty floor, he slurs something about a white horse. And chains, and the sea.
   God, who gave Lucifer the night off, is tending bar. He comes out from behind the counter, picks Dylan up, props him on his stool.
   You alright, Mr. Thomas, God asks him, leveling courtesy and light.
   You haven’t got any eyes, Dylan pops, head toggling to the warbled beat of his words.
   You’re eyeless, barkeep.
   Dylan laughs, an asthmatic snorting. God laughs, a beam hitting solid rock.
   You’ve been drinking, Mr. Thomas, God says, smiling.
   Yes, Dylan says, and rises rubber-legged from his stool, index upraised.
   By god, barkeep, I have been drinking, but your eyes. What the hell happened to your eyes? Did you never have eyes? Never ever?
   Dylan belches into a closed hand. God, towel-wiping a glass, responds—I have eyes, Mr. Thomas. You just can’t see them. You’ve been drinking.
   You mean to say, when I drink, eyes disappear? They just, poof, go away?
   I couldn’t say, Mr. Thomas. Drinking affects everyone differently.
   Yes, my good fellow, you are right. Drinking does affect everyone differently. Some people get DUIs, others engage in fisticuffs—
   Dylan pantomimes fisticuffs with a contained circular frenzy of hands and a pickled face, then goes on—
   While some, like myself, lose sight of other’s eyes.  It’s the damndest thing, ain’t it?
   Dylan belches, moist and metallic, then shakes his hands feverishly by his sides, before asking—May I have another, barkeep?
   Sure, Mr. Thomas, God assents, pouring a tumbler of whiskey, and setting it on the counter.
   You, my dear fellow, are a bartender after my poor broken heart. Cheers!
   Dylan raises his glass, gulps ferociously, and falls backwards off his stool, resounding with a thud.
   God comes out from behind the counter, picks him up, and sets him on the stool.
   Dylan slumps forward, face pasted to the counter.
   Job, just back from running food, looks at God, shakes his head, says—Why do you keep serving him? And picking him up?
   God smiles, his entire eyeless face aflame in golden light, and he responds—Because, Job, who am I to judge?


dylan thomas

About John Biscello

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, writer, poet, spoken word performer, and playwright, John Biscello now lives in Taos, New Mexico. He is the author of three novels: Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale, Raking the Dust, and Nocturne Variations, and a collection of stories, Freeze Tag. His fiction and poetry has appeared in: Art Times, nthposition, The Wanderlust Review, Ophelia Street, Caper, Polyphony, Dilate, Militant Roger, Chokecherries, Farmhouse, BENT, The 555 Collective, Instigator, Brass Sopaipilla, The Iconoclast, Adobe Walls, Kansas City Voices, and the Tishman Review. His blog--Notes of an Urban Stray--can be read at johnbiscello.blogspot.com. Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale was named Underground Book Reviews 2014 Book of the Year.
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