Toast to a Park Bench

Toast to a Park Bench


Everyone sees the alcoholic

that is passed out on the same

park bench every morning, rain or shine,

even though some pretend that they don't.


Most wrinkle their nose in disgust,

a few twist their faces in pity, but

they all agree that he must be drinking

to forget something terrible, but that

it doesn’t excuse the behavior they deem unseemly.


It’s only if you sit next to him at the bar late at night,

after he’s had just enough to loosen his tongue,

he’ll grab his wallet and pull out old photos with lovingly worn edges.

You’ll see the way his face lights up when he sees them and realize that

he’s drinking to remember.


He drinks to remember the way his wife smiled and sang

under her breath in the kitchen an off-key version of an

old love song they danced to on their wedding day.

instead of gloomy hospital rooms and the

steady beep of monitors that slowed to painful silence.


He drinks to remember the way his son’s

eyes sparkled when he laughed and how

they would toss the ball around in the backyard

instead of a folded flag and the crack of gunfire

giving one final goodbye.


They say that all the drinking will kill him

but, when sobriety leaves him with nothing

except tombstones and an empty house,

that park bench has a certain appeal.


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