There’s a legend that’s told in the neighborhood pubs,
In the smoke-filled gin joints and the posh country clubs,
In the places beer flows, be it froth or in dregs,
They say Darryl O’Day is the king of the kegs.

Now Darryl was sixty but still keeping fit;
His house by the brewer kept a hose joined to it.
With his kidneys still fearsome, his balance still fine:
When he chewed on a grape he could spit it out wine.

Yet, a decade had past since he’d fought for his title
And a rumor went ’round that Darryl ‘d grown idle.
Soon a brewhead named Stuart came after his throne.
From outside Darryl’s window he made his claim known.

He cried to the world, “It’s come time to acknowledge,
A new king’s in town, I’m the champ of my college.
I maintain Darryl’s finished, his panties are silk.
His head’s full of glue and he drinks buttermilk!”
Darryl hadn’t much words and had even less fear,
He said, “Let’s settle this now, I’ve a brewery right here.”

But Stu didn’t answer: his visage fell flat.
He drank from the hose then he turned and he spat.
First his face gave a twitch, then his neck made some twists,
His eyes became snakes and his hands became fists.

What was stewing in Stu only Stuart could say.
“This sissy-stuff brew, I could drink it all day.
If you want a real test,” Stuart sneered in his anger.
Then you’ll come meet me down at the aeroplane hangar!”

What could Darryl do if not take up the bait?
With the town at his side he went after his fate.
He marched out to the hangar to meet with his peril:
A foul bubbling cauldron, a twelve foot beer barrel.

‘Twas an ale beyond pale, ’twas a beer so unfit,
It wore through the tongue that swore upon it.
A fermented, demented toxic waste lager
Made part from old boots, and part gutter declogger.

Stuart paused to inhale, and then, licking his chops,
With a skip and a jump he went after those hops.
He chugged down eight quarts, and a pint and a gulp
‘Til his legs turned to rubber, his brain to a pulp.
Soon swaying, displaying his snarl with a gat,
Still standing, demanding, said, “Darryl beat that.”

Darryl sucked in his belly and tightened his bladder
Then strolled to the wall where he set up a ladder.
With pretzel in teeth he climbed up to the rafters:
The crowd half in cheers and the other half laughter.

His mouth opened widely, the daredevil Darryl
Took a leap from his perch to plunge into the barrel.
He drank as he swam and he swam as he drank
He made it look easy while draining that tank.
On down to a puddle he guzzled and slurped
Then said, “What, no more?” out of grieving, he burped.

Then he sucked dry his clothes until no longer damp.
Just one drip remained: he who challenged the champ.
The crowd at first gasped, then hoorayed with a clangor
And even Stu cheered from the floor of the hangar.

Throughout this wide world you’ll find fools who are talky
But there’s damned few out there who can walk the Milwaukee.
So, wherever men teeter with wobbly legs
They say Darryl O’Day is the king of the kegs.

 

 

Martin Hill Ortiz is a researcher and professor at the Ponce University of Health Sciences in Ponce, PR where he lives with his wife and son. He has three novels published by small presses: A Predatory Mind (Loose Leaves Publishing, 2013),  Never Kill A Friend, (Ransom Note Press, 2015), and A Predator’s Game (Rook’s Page, 2016). 


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13 Responses

  1. JULIAN D. WOODRUFF

    A rip-roarin’ smash!
    Somewhere in the middle, should it maybe be “His eyes became snakes'”?

    Reply
  2. James A. Tweedie

    There are enough clever couplets and witty one-liners to qualify this smack-down, down for the count recount as a classic.

    More! I want more!

    Reply
  3. Angel L Villanueva

    An amusing and fun read! Enjoyed the humor and well-crafted couplets.

    Reply
  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    “But there’s damned few out there who can walk the Milwaukee.”

    A brilliant internal rhyme, containing within itself a witty reference to our beer metropolis.

    A minor note: the mention of O’Day having a hose connected to a brewery is more than a mere poetic conceit. In Bowery bars in the late nineteenth century, rubber hoses were connected to huge barrels of beer. For a nickel you could put the end of the hose in your mouth, the barkeep would turn the spigot on, and you could drink as much beer as you were able as long as you didn’t take the hose out of your mouth. For serious drinkers only, of course — like O’Day.

    Reply
  5. C.B. Anderson

    Fun stuff! One of these days, I swear, I’m going to submit my drinking poems to SCP and try to give you a run for your money. Just remember the famous words of Dorothy Parker:

    I’d rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy.

    Reply
  6. David Watt

    What an enjoyable, rollicking ballad!
    If asked to choose a favorite couplet it would be:

    “What was stewing in Stu only Stuart could say.
    This sissy-stuff brew, I could drink it all day.”

    Reply
  7. Mark F. Stone

    Martin,

    This is a wonderful poem. My favorite couplets are the one David Watt mentioned and this one:

    Soon swaying, displaying his snarl with a gat,
    Still standing, demanding, said, “Darryl beat that.”

    And the last three stanzas are excellent. Nice work!

    Mark

    Reply
  8. Monty

    Regarding L2 of the final stanza (and given that it’s subsequently been highlighted in a comment), may I invite anyone reading to momentarily forget rhyme and meter; forget the word “damned” (which is there only for effect); forget, even, that the line is in a poem . . and read it purely in terms of English Usage: ‘But there is few out there who can walk the Milwaukee.’

    Would anyone disagree that the correct English Usage would be: ‘But there are few out there who can walk the Milwaukee.’?

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      That is technically correct, but this is a colloquial poem in colloquial English. In common speech the word “There’s” functions like “Hay” in Spanish or “Il y a” in French, both of which can be followed by a plural noun. An ordinary sentence in colloquial English might say “There’s five bucks in it for you if you get me to the airport on time!” It doesn’t matter that “five bucks” is plural.

      Reply
  9. Martin Hill Ortiz

    Thanks for the kind notices. I thought I’d plug my award-winning poem here: “Two Mistakes.” I believe it’s one of the best things I’ve written, and if any of you want to take on the challenge of reading it, it’s here.

    https://winningwriters.com/past-winning-entries/two-mistakes

    It took me over a year to write, and by that I mean, working on it each day. Warning: it is sixty-two pages long. It is metered, but in a poem this long, there are probably at least two mistakes. It is sometimes serious, sometimes funny, and I’d like to think, sometimes suspenseful.

    The title refers to the two mistakes of slavery: it destroys the slave, but it also destroys the owner.

    Reply

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