Marcy called on the abortion day. She had been reading from Source Almanac.
"Wisconsin produces more beer and brandy than any place, and furthermore, Milwaukee is a better city than Minneapolis, in all areas except one thing ... "
"The police force," I said. "Milwaukee police beat people like Philadelphia police beat people and bomb people."
"And of the ten cities with most bars per capita, Wisconsin has six of them."
Then I knew that four years at college, beer with Marcy and everyone we met may not have been normal. It had been a way to meet lonely people who were secretly brilliant and unfit to live how they must in this place.
I said, "Marcy, Source Almanac is a guide for the Apple."
In Moscow there are oxygen tanks on the street because everyone drinks too much, like here, like Wisconsin. Maybe the students can’t move from within.
I thought then of Robert, who was brilliant and spoke pure poetry, of how we met the only time in a bar and I loved him. He said, "Kill or be killed," and he yelled at me because I couldn’t shoot a gun.
I said, "Robert, I thought you were in mathematics."
And he said, "Turnip, you little nothing sassy, kill or be killed."
Then the other guys, who had been to Vietnam, too, said, "Robert, sit down."
(First written in 1985; published in Poetic Inhalation in February 2005.)