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Your Thirst is Done

Saint Paul, 23 January 2005
For Uncle Walter
    I. Schaefer pleasure
    Walter drank a shit-load of beer
    Always Schaefer and always cans
    The empties needed Atlas-strength to crush
    And the top had to be opened on two sides
    With a church key – his term
    II. Doesn’t fade
    I would excavate rusty Schaefer cans
    In the lot next to our house at the Shore
    Some cans still had the gold and red logo
    But most were rusted to dark chocolate
    And in varied states of disintegration
    Even amateur archeologists could make out
    The two triangular voids
    Stamped on the top
    III. Even when your thirst is done
    It might have been the Lucky Strikes
    Choose your own synonym
    Hankering, hunger, yearning or yen
    You can pine for or die for
    I’m not sure his thirst ever left him
    Even after he was ransacked by cancer
    A man short of fifty
    IV. The most rewarding flavor
    He must have craved the flavor
    But the rewards come down to this --
    A hopped-up mallet in a can
    Meant to stave off any inclination
    Of facing the world as it was
    V. In this man’s world
    A veteran of Korea
    And a vigorous bachelor of 40
    In the summer of 1966 the Jersey Shore
    Would have been this man’s oyster
    If not this man’s world
    VI. For people who are having fun
    He had a quivering out-of-control dark side
    When he’d switch out Luckies for Tiparillos
    After the flag pole on the dock was bent in half
    A dark side that said to me as a boy of seven
    “What in god’s name have I done?”
    But he did his best to arouse fun
    VII. Schaefer is the
    He married some middle-aged Mcarchek
    Not hitting on all cylinders, if any at all
    He worked for a trucking company
    But this bleached out pushrod
    Took him for some kind of
    Moneyed gravy train -- it didn’t add up
    But one thing was clear as a cold pour
    Schaefer was his real love and mistress
    VIII. One beer to have
    He had a pin-up in his closet
    Some big-lipped blonde like Jane Mansfield
    Wrapped in skimpy white fox fir
    And with legs like Doric columns
    You imagined this heifer he’d actually married
    Might have resembled the Mansfield pin-up
    As they coalesced in some boozy Shore tavern
    Only to turn into - herself - as they
    Each returned to brief lucidity in the homily
    Of the late Sunday morning mass
    IX. When you’re having
    You can’t imagine him drinking another brand
    Other than the milk he’d down
    Before going to Murphy's in Seaside
    Beer was all I ever saw him drink
    X. More than one
    He never had -- just one
    He was always having -- more than one
    Many, many more than one
    Walter would rather have had none
    Than have had just one

Notes:
Each heading by the roman numerals comprise the popular east coast jingle for Schaefer beer.
This jingle was played on radio and television. It permeated my pre-pubescent psyche.