DiscoverPoetry

Dispatches from the Swinging Door Saloon

By

Loved it! 😍

Thematically well-organized, good character studies. Good bursts of vivid writing and reflection

Synopsis

Want to feel more alive?

If yes, then we recommend you grab your copy of Dispatches from the Swinging Door Saloon today!

Even if you're on the fence about poetry, having grown to dislike it in school, Randall McNair will bring you over to his side of the fence, the one where the absurd lives. In this debut collection of poems, McNair paints a humorous and vivid picture of what it was like to be a burnout in a world full of over achievers. Although at times raw and explicit, McNair’s poetry allows us inside the mind of a very creative, but sad soul, one who’s stuck in a career he hates and who, through the words of a hopeless drunk, shows us how that feels. As Clive Matson wrote about the book, “Poem after poem gives us a precious gift – the gift of a person.”

If you’re ready to feel more alive, to laugh, to cry, to feel the simple joy of a man and his beer, give yourself the gift of this poet, Randall McNair and his book, Dispatches from the Swinging Door Saloon.

Normally we associate Orange County, CA with the upscale, fast paced lifestyles we see in movies and on television. Everything is up-to-date, everyone is fashionable and ultra-cool according to the latest standards, which change constantly.

    The same would apply to a place for adults to meet and mingle. “Bar” would be too common, too unsophisticated. Residents and visitors would have someplace trendy to enjoy the ultimate in cocktails.

Dispatches from the Swigging Door Saloon come from an old-fashioned bar, set back well behind the façade of the Orange County as portrayed in the media. The nearly-six dozen or so poems come from this establishment. They are thematically-linked, and connected together very well. One can imagine sitting in the place, nursing a drink, observing what goes on, listening to a raconteur talk about experiences and people encountered along the way. There is a wealth of material in these dispatches.

    Stylistically, it is the same note played over and over again. Zydeco music is interesting for ten minutes, and then begins to sound all the same. That is what happens here; not that it is necessarily a bad thing, However, if one sits and reads ten or so of these poems one after the other, it is a little hard to distinguish one from another. The rhythm, flow of words, the style is the same all the way through.

    What makes this book interesting is the poet’s ability to create some good character studies and to fashion short bursts of creative use of language. The influence of Bukowski and Collins is clearly evident, especially of the former.

   “A Mad Scientist” and “The Strangest Politician I Ever Met” are two excellent examples of what was just mentioned. From the latter:

    “It was his midlife and golden years/ all at once. He cashed in his retirement/ and ordered a 70-year old virgin/ from Romania to keep him company./ They moved to Florida.”

    From “Looking Down over Laguna Beach”, we see two people:

   “They are not alone./Their disappointment sits between them/ ;ole a quiet child.”

   One criticism I have of the editing, and this is something I would lay at the feet of the publisher. It is very hard to distinguish the individual titles of the poems from everything else.

   I have not been back to Orange County for three decades. Should I ever return, I want to go to Tustin and find this saloon.

Reviewed by

I am a published poet with four books out there of my own, and two in collaboration with artist Carol Worthington-Levy. Additionally I have drafts of a novel and one short story in the process of being sent out.

Synopsis

Want to feel more alive?

If yes, then we recommend you grab your copy of Dispatches from the Swinging Door Saloon today!

Even if you're on the fence about poetry, having grown to dislike it in school, Randall McNair will bring you over to his side of the fence, the one where the absurd lives. In this debut collection of poems, McNair paints a humorous and vivid picture of what it was like to be a burnout in a world full of over achievers. Although at times raw and explicit, McNair’s poetry allows us inside the mind of a very creative, but sad soul, one who’s stuck in a career he hates and who, through the words of a hopeless drunk, shows us how that feels. As Clive Matson wrote about the book, “Poem after poem gives us a precious gift – the gift of a person.”

If you’re ready to feel more alive, to laugh, to cry, to feel the simple joy of a man and his beer, give yourself the gift of this poet, Randall McNair and his book, Dispatches from the Swinging Door Saloon.

On Working

My $50/Yr. Job


I am working a $50/yr. job.


It is called poetry.


It makes for tough living.


But then, when was living ever easy?


1 The Banker


It’s hard to find the will to shave. Brushing my teeth is a pointless chore. I shower, but even that seems like folly.


I do not work in the fields or in the coal mines or deep in the sewers.


I work in an air-conditioned cube at the bank.


I do not sweat or gather grime as I sit here, cleanly, making money move this way or that, my jaw moving up and down and side to side, my eyes cloudy and blank.


I am a banker.


It’s hard to find the will for many, many things.


3 It's The Fire's Fault


The hills above Irvine are on fire, over 3,500 acres plowed by flame. There is ash falling but no sign of the birds, no blue to the sky. You can’t fight these things. Best to give in, cut out of the office early, have a beer or two or twelve at the Swinging Door Saloon, tell your manager when you show up late for the meeting tomorrow that it’s the fire’s fault, and maybe he should have pushed the deadline back until the sparrows have resumed their singing and the pall is erased from the sky.


4 The Mad Scientist


Drunk on wine, your old man misses Kennedy’s space speech there at Rice University.


You can’t blame him though.


Old Man’s been waiting for so long, even the most vigilant would have given up. So, as he lies on the powder blue sofa slowly angering at your dog’s easy life, Kennedy delivers the goods to a moderate crowd of Texans, LBJ in the audience smirking, as if aware of things to come.


Old Man, wake up, you want to say, but you also want to let the bugger lie there, sleep it off, wake up at noon the next day and see it in print, his idea made word fresh off the President’s lips.


Yes, let him wake up slow and queasy, gagging at his toothbrush as his transistor radio


5 says something about the moon.


Let him drop his guts in the hallway as he rushes to the kitchen for the paper and, as he grabs it out of your hands, knocking over your bowl of cereal, look up at him and remember that face, glorious and smiling, crazed as the day you were born.


6 A Quick Story About the Strangest Politician I Ever Met


He changed his name from Jackson P. Falldrecker to Bart Linklater hoping to connect with the older crowd. He was thirty-seven with silver hair and an artificial hip. He wore plaid trousers, white leather shoes, and fat ties made of orange polyester over blue and red checkered shirts.


It was his midlife and golden years all at once. He cashed in his retirement and ordered a 70-year-old virgin from Romania to keep him company. They moved to Florida to a sleepy senior community near Osceola.


Nadia, his bride, got a pair of 38 double D’s and a face lift and helped Bart campaign for president of the Fading Willows Homeowners Association.


They made buttons and bumper stickers,


7 threw parties by the pool at 1pm, sponsored bus rides to Sizzler and field trips to the post office.


Bart won by a landslide, got his face in the papers and a key to the city. Then, on the day of his installation, he choked on an olive and died.


8 Music Maker


I fancy myself to be the piano player in a 19th century saloon in some dusty, old farming town—Albuquerque let’s say, or Tustin, California.


And, as I sit there getting drunk on whiskey and beer, straw hat cocked atop my head, little black garter wrapped around the left bicep of my red-and-white-striped, long-sleeved shirt, the spittoon at my feet slowly filling, my hands diligently going about their work of making music fill the room with life, some joker in his man-blouse walks up to the juke and plays Lady Gaga, cutting me out of that scene and pasting me back into this one, where I sit beneath my baseball cap getting drunk on whiskey and beer, staring at the little black garter around the bargirl’s leg as I spit spent sunflower shells into my Carl’s Jr. cup, my hands diligently going about their work of making music fill the pages of my notebook with life.


9 The Burnout


I was at the game.


It was a 12:35pm start. It is now 12:35am and I am hammered.


I had cut out of the office early, my phone ringing, a client waiting in the lobby.


It’s April, baby, and I had tickets to the game.


Fuck work, anyway.


Fuck it in April, May, June and July. Fuck it big time in August and September. Don’t even think about work in October, as the leaves begin to fall nor in November and Decembera time for feasting with family.


January is too cold for work. February too rainy.


Fuck work in January and February. This leaves March.


Only in March should one work,


though never on St. Patrick’s Day nor for two weeks before or after.



Brunie Blowsme


The porn star named himself Rod Givermore on account of him thinking it was both clever and true.


And his coworkers are all 9’s and 10’s so I tell my boss I am quitting and I ride down into the valley on a smoking, 17-year-old brunette named Patty Pinay and announce my new nameBrunie Blowsme.


If not for the blistering, the itching, and the federal warrant for my arrest, I could very well be the next big thing.


12 At Work in the Bank


Do I look as miserable as I feel, sitting here in this high-backed, leather chair?


Here, where Hope’s head was cleaved open just yesterday, after a short lunch meeting at my desk?


Curious, I steal a peek in the mirror.


No.

The answer is

no.


My eyes are not bleeding and there is no hatchet wedged into my forehead.

About the author

Described by his friends as Poet Laureate of the Absurd, McNair was inspired to put pen to paper by a mixture of Charles Bukowski, Billy Collins, Sharon Olds & the muse at large. His poetry has been published in both American and Canadian literary journals. To learn more, visit www.mcnairpoet.com. view profile

Published on May 28, 2020

Published by Bits of Steak Press

10000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Poetry

Reviewed by

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