All in by Jan Steckel

by Jan Steckel

We watched waxwings spiral after
gorging on rotten cherries.
Deer staggered when they munched
those wizened sloe berries.

We went from mead to rye spirits
in a thousand years flat.

Get you a copper kettle and coil.
Distill moonshine. Fuck the government.
They can shove their whiskey taxes
where the moon don’t rise.

We’ve been bootlegging
since before we crossed the pond,
rum-running in skiffs and canoes since
the first thick sticky drop of molasses.

We’re the red light in a monkey’s eye,
a red horse rearing rampant,
liquid crystal joy, white lightning
up the spine and out the brain.

Pour that new liquor in old bottles,
can money and cackle at the Fed.

Every cell of yeast’s a joy factory.
Corn makes a better liquid lunch
than stores of next year’s seed.

Some say farms birthed civilization,
but we know alcohol’s the real reason
we tamed that wild grass into grain.


Jan Steckel’s lastest poetry book is Like Flesh Covers Bone (Zeitgeist Press, 2018). Her poetry book, The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011), won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award. Her fiction chapbook, Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009), and poetry chapbook, The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006), also won awards. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Bellevue Literary Review, SWWIM Every Day, Canary, Assaracus, and elsewhere. She lives in Oakland, California.