old barn

what i’ve gathered, what i’ve heard

what i’ve imagined, what i’ve gleaned

a speakeasy in chicago in an old barn near the future airport

two nuns drinking whiskey out of teacups with

the ice clanking the sides of the cup

women in furs, men in tuxedos, servers in cool red jackets

my great-grandmother watching over it all with a hawkeye

from the floors, from the walls

my grandfather a young GI there in uniform

drinking scotch at the bar with the patriarch

my grandmother in her debutante duds

with a dr.’s diamond upon her left hand

and there within the horde andy

who children are now named after

waiting, laughing, shaking hands, pouring beer

creating the myth that would haunt the players’ lives

nostalgia from those roaring nights

the smell of smoke and stale alcohol and steaks

and there a small girl gets the VIP treatment with

a tour of the kitchen, a rack of ribs, and a shirley temple

then and there deciding

she wanted to own a restaurant when she grew up

four generations of alcoholics later

she types

thinking of what her life project should be

she remembers

the raw power of the redbar stool and leather booths

sitting in a café in paris drinking beer and scribbling like her heroes

these fabrications of elaborate liars and those re-writers of history

she knows not where she stands in this familial history

this family tree of drunks, entrepreneurs, gangsters

soldiers, debutantes, society ladies,

perhaps its brightest star or its biggest disappointment

a laugh escapes her lips as she sees the circle coming fully around

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