Scott Weaver

Song of the Former Ascetic

I’d like to say I learned
the pleasure of self-denial
early, but who is to say
where such a lesson appears
on life’s loose syllabus?

The beer that’s not a beer,
a rising tide of soda and lime,
the trick’s to raise
a faux toast to the idea
of absence. The way your tongue

bursts with memory
reminds your mind to mine
each replacement drop
for its essence. It’s like
the smiling saffroned monk

sitting atop a piece
of scrap carpet, feeling
each tendril of fabric
pressing against his flesh
until his mind cannot

separate ankle
from carpet, carpet from
the faux wood floor
of the suburban boulevard
shop with plenty of parking,

the mind ceases to cleave
and puzzle over the anxiety
of ambiguity. Who
remembers their first taste
of nothing? Pushing

your tongue into the newly
found cavity? Flicking away
the waitress, her wine list,
clinking bubbly tumblers
of water fizzy with extra air?

Five years after that
comes the first beer back,
the bitter reunion of hops
and tongue. How much longer?
asks the backseat child.

Another thirty minutes
answers the mom. Here comes
the wait for the fuzzy head,
that now-unfamiliar soft
blurring of guest and host.

Am I drunk again? You tongue
another molar hole.
Are we there yet? No.
The child contents himself
with January cornfields

mute and winking by.
It’s okay to wonder
how anyone lives here, how
they survive. No malls or movie
rentals shops, no restaurants,

no park playgrounds, no friends.
Where do they eat when home
becomes too much to bear?
Just one more glass
before we leave,

so we remember
what absence is
and isn’t. A monk
must die or open his eyes,
it’s winter outside the car.


Scott Weaver lives in Austin, Texas. He’s working on his first book of poems. You can find him and on Twitter @scottweaver.