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Original artwork by Katie M. Zeigler

i’m not a naked twelve year old on shrooms, so you’ll have to make do

Gabrielle Palmer

seven men sit at the bar, concrete dust under their nails, quarry dirt flaking

off steel-toed boots and onto the floor. i will sweep it away with the rushes later when

the lanterns have gone out. two of them are on cell phones,

one checking his fantasy football scores, the other muttering into a speaker. the

rest stare at my hands as they wring out limes for a margarita.


under the meager light of a buzzing neon used car sign, these men complete

a bastardized ritual: they have consulted an oracle. are you sure you’re old enough to

pour me this beer? they’ll ask, before telling me about their wives and employees. they

did not come here for a drink. they came here for the lacquered wood

of my roadhouse bar that reminds their bones of caves where men are allowed

women’s wisdom. it makes no difference that i have not been a virgin in ten years; they

hand me a few silver coins or a riddle in exchange for words of advice.

all ancient transactions remain bartered out in modern currency.