Set in a small-town, sub-Arctic dive bar, this debut poetry collection explores the complexities of addiction and the person beneath, and the possibility of finding home and community in unexpected places. Among Borin’s poems are portraits of the bar’s regular customers and employees—recurring characters, like those who might appear in a dark and unconventional sitcom. The religious night janitor catalogues the day’s sins; the retired barmaid gussies up at the mirror; the regular customers and their regular habits are described to a new employee: “R has a two-drink limit. A likes a coaster. Remember, / Mrs. O takes a chilled pilsner glass / with her bottle of Blue.”
In the melancholy atmosphere of the bar and the rooms upstairs, the speakers of Borin’s poems find unexpected solace and belonging. The habits, the routine, the regulars, the predictability of it all brings some kind of chaotic order to chaotic life:
We drink without even having to think about it,
because it feels good
to lose control,
feels like regaining it.