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a distilled spirit

pained prose from a bar

joseph pinto

a distilled spirit

Copyright ©2018 Joseph Pinto

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except where noted in the text and in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles, reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, email the author: with the body: “Attention: Permissions Coordinator”

Published by Distilled Press

Printed in the United States of America

Edited by Lisa Bachhuber

Cover Design by Lisa Bachhuber

First Edition

ISBN: 978-0-9991127-0-0 Print

All characters and events appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

i write this for you.

the wayward

the broken

the pained

the lost

the grieving

the unloved

the lonely

the blackened

the muted

the different

the observant

the rare.

seven pm

3. believe what you hear

4. power lunch

5. highways

6. nothing

7. the tree

8. change of seasons

9. creed

10. it’s my thing, not yours

11. keyboard blues

12. the lost art of conversation

13. he’s got the moves

14. empty, still you try

15. mouth

16. spectre

17. on foggy streets

18. bullshit

19. mindless

20. you

21. those eyes

22. as usual

23. mercy killing

24. hollow eyes

25. birth

26. let it out

27. dulled

28. floor mirror

29. the sweater

30. delivery

31. stripping down

32. un

33. jumper

34. a spider matters

35. ode

36. under the gun

37. deep thaw

38. ashes

39. the master craftsman

40. perils of greasy calamari

nine pm

43. gentleman johnnie

45. spoiled

46. just not here

47. fog

48. hand poised on knob

49. spawn

50. pseudo cerulean queen

51. desecrate

52. gallon of milk

54. the unseeable

55. unrisen

56. your debt

57. complete

58. an american barbecue

59. heard

60. resolutions

61. the room you live in

62. high time

63. boarding pass

64. fruitless driving

65. nothing

66. somber reminders

67. parapraxis

68. radio

69. down the drain

70. simple shift

71. no revision

72. going nowhere

73. threads

74. above

75. time worn

76. funny what you believe

77. loose words

78. no help

79. winter’s sunset

80. native son

81. she walks

82. wick

83. redundancy

84. tuesday night at the pub

eleven pm

87. not defined by your threads

88. thanks for nothing

89. your uncanny way of knowing

90. breath

91. skin and bones

92. what i learned

94. dignity

95. to carve, to own

96. it’s all the same

97. crooked view

98. in this, like all else

99. and tonight you cling

100. ways of sorrow

101. keep to yourself

102. of a new age

103. childproof

104. of this i do not care

105. black

106. to take what you do not want to own

107. refill

108. a place to hang my coat

109. old fashioned love

110. attainable aspirations

111. my own god tonight

112. not yet, not ever

113. struck down

114. empty mirrors

115. scored

116. bylines

117. boy on strings

118. oceans

119. devour

120. no apologies

121. mold

122. the offing

123. look at you

124. scourge of my garden

125. the seat beside me

126. reprieve

127. longed for

128. second hand smoke

129. in the last dusty bar

last call

133. wings and a prayer

134. fakes need not apply

136. weed

137. prayers make me a killer

138. immurement

139. knock, do i

140. at midnight

141. husk

143. tattletales

144. flattened

145. yesterday’s fable

146. wrong frequency

147. moving on

148. savior

150. by fingertips

151. infinite sadness

153. atomic number 26

154. onward, my son

156. truth lies

157. dried glue

158. social media

159. flinch

160. scotch drinker’s lament

161. burn to your core

162. bowed still i stride

163. gone

164. a final toast with death

165. guilt of a meal

166. by definition

167. tired of walking

168. vigil

169. no mercy

170. never trust anyone

171. at the root of it

172. why is it not me

173. a distilled spirit

174. mafia

175. blanched

176. bane

177. drowning cubes

178. roadmap through a charred heart


to concentrate, to purify, to obtain by distillation;

to extract the essence of life in its rawest form.


the principle of conscious being;

the soul, the heart, the seat of sentiment.

seven pm

believe what you hear

i know you heard that

i'm the resident poet

you probably think my life

has been full of heartache

missed opportunity

the occasional well-intentioned

abuse of alcohol

you're right.

power lunch

all i wished was to enjoy my scotch but

your excessive blabbering intruded on my peace.

you're the type that loves the

sound of your own voice

such an authoritative tone

yes, dignified gentleman,

your life is an important one;

while the declaration of your daily itinerary

seems necessary to validate your world

kindly shut the fuck up.


your pain i ride

over interstates

and highways

constantly reconstructing

the scabs

routes so readily accessible

still you've no idea

the avenues i loiter

the burdens stored

on subterranean levels

shelved as i've shelved

so many others

dust laden with time.


in this dark, i am nothing

just as you see me.

the tree

her face was riddled.

dug into her cheek

an empty heart

like lovers carve into a tree.

there were no initials

no dates

just old skin

rough and crumbly like bark.

she stood alone


an ancient tree in the forest

awaiting a fall

no one would ever hear.

change of seasons

it's something how

you leave me feeling reborn

like springtime through the window

but you seem to forget

i'm allergic to pollen

sooner or later i'll wind up

longing for the frost.


this is writing —

earth laden nails

grit crusted teeth

sun-scorched hide

scotch soaked pain

creed of the beast.

it’s my thing, not yours

you look at me

scribbling in my pad

with a look upon your face

that says i wonder what he’s scribbling about

i watch you

watching me

i hope you're smart enough to realize

it's none of your fucking business.

keyboard blues

she breaches

melancholy waters

only when

his fingers

pull her

back to

the surface;

until then

she drowns.

the lost art of conversation

he will never grow up

his mind still functions

in the manner of a young child

he wants to go out drinking every night

he doesn't understand

the meaning of responsibility

he gambles his paycheck away

not done, she bitches on facebook

for her friends to see

vindicated by every click of like.

he’s got the moves

old man, you've got the moves

whiskey smooth

i wonder

if your raven-haired beauty

knows it's merely part

of your pitch

still you entertain her

as the candlelight flickers and

the cobwebs sway in her head.

empty, still you try

my bones gleam

my eyes ache

as your unwavering light

searches across my pores.

you curse my resolve

while you continue your


when will you learn my veins dried

a long time ago.


my mouth

forever wordless

still rends a hole

i can drown you in.


in the middle of the room is a ghost

who is blind but can see what others

feel, it knows what others

have forgotten, it screams what others

don't wish to hear.

i know this ghost.

yet once i turn from the mirror

it disappears.

on foggy streets

the street lamps only know

what you want them to know

walk long enough you'll find

a new place to exist

with the same old story.


you cannot bullshit a bullshitter

but you can buy him a drink

a few shots

get him just short of glassy-eyed

then tolerate the stream of truths

as you sort out the lesser lies.


i read the praise

the heaping of recognition

for someone who left too soon

why no thanks for a mind still creating;

why no celebration for a soul that can appreciate

your appreciation;

why wait so long

you stupid motherfuckers?


in a trick of light i found you

pouring venom from calloused hands

ripping faith from gibbous moon

i’ve loved you ever since.

your cruel grace matched by

even the coldest of gray januaries and

as the sun died

you spoke to me the foulest nothings

whispered from your alligator snout.

you poured acid in my ears to

quell my methods of thinking when

you knew full well

i had no free will at all.

chant a new song of turpitude

blasphemous act;

i’ll love you ever more.

those eyes

reflected in the panes

are the pains that you mirror

and the pains that you draw

but you can never shut them out

like i could never seal you out

you are lost within yourself

as i am lost without myself

and still we gaze

and we gaze

and we gaze.

as usual

the road burns

as i burn

trying to reach you

but as usual

i’m left

spinning my wheels.

mercy killing

do you remember that day you shushed me?

silk finger on my lips stilling

my pulse

clouds fell and you

caught them, dabbed

tears from my eyes, stole the

sun's rays, stabbed them

through my heart.

mercy killing, so was whispered

still i,

i could not talk, not

with your fist down my

windpipe, sweet charm tearing

me apart.

i should have thanked you, admitted

you were never

to blame

still i,

i was the quiet one

and you,

you so insane.

hollow eyes

she has hollow eyes.

she fills them with roses

to keep away the death.

she lost her tongue

because the truth cut deep.

she is suffering's whore

but you can't afford her.

she has hollow eyes.


there's beauty in pain

a sublime blackening

that is incomprehensible to

others unless

it enters the world

with you.

let it out

you're unable to suppress it

the slightest thing sends you into a tizzy

you can't see clearly

not that you could before

as tears spill from your eyes

let it out

is all i can rouse myself to say

knowing full well you'll grasp every opportunity

to let him back in.


i need to listen closely—

the pain you share

should be sharp yet

comes delivered dull, spoken

at the price of a worn tongue;

how it rends me to hear you

recall the worst of all you have been;

i sit quietly

listening to your soft grace

betrayed by the broken

fragments of your words.

i can't ever glue you back together

but i can hold you in my hands.

floor mirror

the reflection speaks lies

clay where flesh hung

wire where bones once created

sense to the structure

strength had been there

but now all is malleable

awaiting hands to reshape

to be whole again.

the sweater

i'm not quite sure what your deal is

to make things worse, you're wearing

an ugly sweater. i won't criticize your


but i'll bury your conversation.

if i need to hear your circular

bullshit one more time, i swear

i'll douse you in scotch and light you on fire.

i can't do that, of course. i'm a civilized

man, listening to the ramblings of a brute.

at this point, i'm half-way to losing

my mind.

it's settled then. i'll spend my night with my

single malt beauty in a snifter, your pathetic

pickup lines, looking at your crappy



it's not the words but the tone

it's not the manner but the fashion

in which my words come delivered.

nothing is ribbon wrapped

nothing is ruby pearled from my mouth.

stripping down

i don't write like you do

i don't dress up my words

like i'm taking them to broadway

i don't use frills

or pretty sequence to make them

look sparkly

emotion isn't a snowflake

it doesn't melt

it bleeds

remember that the next time you serve

vegetarian quinoa chili

while i eat my steak

emotion isn't getting dolled up for a party

it's stripping down when no one's home

you can't make a teacup yorkie

from a jackal, can you now?

i don't write like you do

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