Courtesy of Sebastian Matthews.

Courtesy of Sebastian Matthews.

Turn the bottle not the cork.
I want a draft on my desk by morning.
Knuckles to the blade. A quick punch
to its bottom flaps opens an empty box.
On top of the stack, a bottle twisted flowers the napkins.
Alternating the direction of the wood at its ends
keeps the pile from falling. Pat your palm
on the metal to gauge the heat.
Marry the bottles. Count the till. Spray the mats.
Last one out turns out the lights.

First one in gets their pick of the papers.
Look for the pot in the panty drawer.
Don’t put everything you’ve got into a single hole:
it will be a day of ditches. Bend from your knees.
Breathe deep. Never carry sheetrock before the wind.
A little vinegar poured into a bucket of water
will do the floor just fine. A cigarette pack
in the shirt pocket justifies the break.
Lefty loosey, righty tighty. Round hole,
square peg. I quit.

There are the things you know by doing.
You pick up what you can from expert hands.
Herbs dry best on old window screens.
The sharpened pencil prices the book.
Wet the knife before the slice or a little cake remains.
Tamp the grounds light but firm.
Time your orders to fit the rush.
And, if all else fails, having served the meal
out of order, delivered the wrong drinks,
free deserts all around maintains the level of the tip.

Sebastian Matthews is the author of a memoir, two books of poems, and a collage novel. His recent book of poems, Beginner’s Guide to a Head-on Collision, comes out from Red Hen Press in the fall. Check him out at