Visiting Woody Creek Tavern by Colin Dodds

The glory of love aside, as it often is,
the world they pay you to speak so generously of
is a torpid, turbid whirlpool of greedheads, screwheads
waterheads and the congenitally incompetent under a shellac
of leading liars and feckless lieutenants
—underdeveloped fetal souls in oversized bodies
all legal tender mutually assured of destruction

And every day it gets harder
to tell biting satire from a look in the mirror

In Aspen, the elevated in the great
oinking group grope of our alleged civilization
hire the mountains to burnish their moneylending
technologeering or old-fashioned bullying—whatever locks the exits
and gets the bright young things hopping
to close the shopping-cart loophole, the sing-a-song loophole
the free-refills loophole, the highway-overpass loophole,
the early-death loophole
until every noble attitude and notion retreats
to the regalia of the police

You may hide in a haircut, hoot and holler
for a fleeting trick of the the radio and the combustion engine
But before long, you see more kinds of death than life
Wreckage, who died young, went too nuts or just succumbed
to the merry-go-round hit-and-run of the human lifecycle

And given the forces arrayed against you
who pay your salary, plus expenses
who keep your common blood circulating
it may be wise to feel a steady pulse of fear

But loathing…
Loathing is divine

Because there is good reason that this seems wrong
There is a plumb line shot through it all
that even our crooked timber twigs
Impossible past anomaly, alone in the empty heavens
some fine point on the rough world
marks every grimace in the panorama
and rains absolute holy failure
upon on the grim, born-obsolete spectacle
of our earth-wrenching ass kiss

So high and fine that shooting for it with any seriousness
is often as not suicide
So high and fine that even if you get close and miss
you may never entirely die
So high and fine that just impersonating it passably
can exempt you from a life of unpalatable labor
And money will fill your pockets to add production value
to the latest watery gruel, and they will make a place for you
in Aspen and Nantucket, Amagansett and Montecito
every glittering municipality where women treat their dogs
better than most people treat their own souls

To be clear, though: There is no respite
from the vicious morons who’ll take a selfie with your corpse
the pricks preening over the latest number or name
and the bizarre, unhappy lust that got you there in the first place
They’ll find you in the wilderness, on the beach
in the deepest drunk and furthest hallucination to show you
how fragile each illusion of freedom really is

The high fine mark mocks the living and the dead alike
We debate if the hypocrites are the best or worst of us
Driven awry by it, I visit taverns to network with the dead
who failed utterly but farther along than I

A valley over, they’re mowing a ski trail
down the sternum of the crucified Christ
Aspen strains to outpace age futility poverty death
and the oppression necessary to keep its hedges shapely
Aspen strains mostly to look like it’s not straining
Mean spirits haunt the Networking Tent, rat eyes scanning badges
Hucksters desperate to sneak into some arena of greatness
with a scheme to sell you back your loved ones
your body, mind, soul and youth with the Great Lie of the age
A lie isn’t a lie if it’s new

All this mendacity, rapacity, affluence and pusillanimity
makes me want to howl, to yawp, to roll the scarcely handled dice
with liquor as hard and heavy as the rains of Noah’s flood
and, like the celebrity bastard ghost of him
who tried to hide in this sunny mountain crease
and failed,
charge the drinks to my employer

©Colin Dodds 2018

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Colin Dodds is a writer. He grew up in Massachusetts and lived in California briefly, before finishing his education in New York City. Since then, he’s made his living as a journalist, editor, copywriter and video producer. His poems, short stories and essays have appeared in more than three hundred publications, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Anthology. He has also directed a short film and built a twelve-foot-high pyramid out of PVC pipe, plywood and zip ties. One time, he rode his bicycle a hundred miles in a day. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and daughter. You can find more of his work at

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