Zen Liquor Store

Corbin Louis


Where we used to buy bottles of Admiral Nelson,
which were plastic, and drink them whole in the car
which was parked in the parking lot, behind the Goodwill
Zen because the owner was a Chinese man named Zhang
who was a Zen Buddhist, and also because we felt
Zen after sharing a pint of Admiral Nelson
and popping three Clonazepam each

The liquor store was called Liquor Store
I don’t think it had a name
just a red and white sign
that hung in the gray sky
like a flag of reckoning
we’d grown familiar with

Zhang worked the Liquor Store from when we were 18
to 23, selling us bottles of mostly rum
until one day, Zhang was not there and instead
there was somebody we didn’t know and would never meet
on the level we knew Zhang, who we knew
on a level of repeated smiles and conversation
about our families like, “how is your daughter?”
we’d ask Zhang, his daughter being a 3-year-old girl
who had sometimes ridden a trike down the isles
of vodka and gin

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