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  You could have a big dipper   

Meeting Death in a Dive Bar, in Three Acts by Dana Kinsey

cw: suicide consideration


Smashing a cigarette to soot, Death peers

at Merlot & me. Unusually affable, eager

to make small talk bigger, he slides to my side

of the booth. Unprepared for seduction I rise,

remind myself why I came, GPS begging

I recalculate. Winehouse wails

from the jukebox, stronger than me. We dance

a thick pathetic sway, desire smothered.

I pry myself from his wooden chest, confess

I wrote the note. He grins. Knows. My palm

betrays my wrist, opens its offering.

His ice steals my spine.


Many times before, I refused to wrap my flesh

onto his bones, fold over the paper-doll tabs

hand-to-hip, meld into the silence

dazzling eternity. I ran from his grasp

but he chased me hard through ballet studios

over stage bridges and dark churches

classrooms where students called me Miss

cradles where my babies stirred in sleep.

He tackled me near Avalon, pinioned me in waves

of guilt & regret that slammed me to my knees

lured me to kitchen counters covered in dough

I coaxed from autumn leaves. I rose.


Friends held me with a litany wound taut

about my chest, tattooed words where they belonged

only to me. They paraded banners through my veins,

shiny trumpets and high-hat marching bands. I woke

to my cheek on the checkered floor, drums and neon

matching the beat. Their words raised Braille

under my skin. I stood to snap my clutch,

smooth my dress. Met Death’s eyes behind the smoke.

Then the exit and jukebox flashed farewell, a rush

of sound. Nina Simone, Feeling Good. I bellowed

and launched, threw myself in and the sun

was waiting right outside.


Dana Kinsey is a writer, actor, and teacher published in Writers Resist, One Art, Broadkill Review, Fledgling Rag, Silver Needle Press, Porcupine Literary, Sledgehammer Lit, West Trestle Review, Prose Online, and Teaching Theatre. Dana's play, WaterRise, was produced at the Gene Frankel Theatre. Visit or tweet @wordsbyDK.

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