Thursday, April 29, 2010

TWO GUYS AND A FLASK (poem & podcast)

Please click play to enjoy an audio reading


Inside a rundown trailer somewhere within
the steel-framed heartland, they drank
in the dark, these two guys and a flask.

Percy was sprawled on the stained couch,
while Hank sat slouched on the floor near
its torn arm. They both basked in the warm
comfort of their friendship and conversation.

In between long and peacefull lulls,
they chatted about their life, recalling
old girlfriends and cars and the
money and effort spent on each.

they sipped ...
and shared ...
and shared ...
and sipped...
these two guys and their flask.

A frigid breeze snuck in from under
the trailer door and Percy felt it.
The space heater, now in the corner,
was busted to shit after he kicked
it the other night after he found out
that she left him for good this time.

It's just as well, Percy told Hank.
She hated the trailer, their life
and just about everything in it.
While Percy missed her, he knew
it was right but it still made him feel
like a loser. He didn't have the guts
to tell Hank that he was scared
of being alone. All alone.
Who would want him now? they sipped
and shared ...
and shared ...
and sipped some more...

The full moon barelled through an
uncovered window and it's gloom
captured Percy's old trophies.
Once majestic, they were now just
dusty figmants, clinging to life on
on the stage of a crickety shelf.
They were mostly old accolades
for fishing and football. Percy asked
Hank about one of those old high
school games and the two chatted
about cheerleaders and coaches and
how both made them feel so inadequate.

They shared and sipped again.

Hank, then, suddenly got quiet and
thought of his wife Nancy.
He told Percy that she was
a bitch. Always was.

He said that they were on the
verge of divorce and explained
how she hijacked his spirit and life
and that their love was really nothing
more than a deeply-infected wound.

When Percy asked what happened,
Hank explained that they each sold
the other a bill of goods that
simply wasn't delivered.

The two friends stared at the muted TV.
sipping and sharing,
sunken and drunken,
they went on all like this
all night...

These two guys and their flask.

"Two Guys and a Flask" by Anthony Venutolo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Hosted by The Internet Archive, download MP3 here. Music by Val Blurock "Bluesy V" and provided by Jemendo.


  1. Anthony, I'm not good with poetry, but I understood this one. Clear and eloguent, I really enjoyed this, especially your reading of it. Your pacing was superb. It felt lyrical, bluesy... cool.

    I've met these men over and over again. you captured the desperation and bravado, and the denial that threatens to peek out from beneath the surface.

  2. Ant, I love prose poetry. This was a very geniune story. So true to life. And guess what? I finally head one of your audios. Great duo.

  3. This is a great snapshot. I like the music in the background...that barely there bluesy guitar like someone playing while thinking about something entirely different.

    It's quiet like I imagine this intoxicated conversation...masculine yet intimate and slightly vulnerable.

    Great picture to go with this too.

    Oh and the reading...I love that. I want to learn to do that...pod adds so much...hearing it.

  4. An Excellent snapshot Anthony. I can honestly say I've had nights like that. Some hooch and a pal. Sometimes that's what life requires, sometimes it's life on hold. You do an excellent job vocally, and you pair your words and music flawlessly. Nice going.

  5. I felt like i was looking through the window if that trailer. Love your podcasts. There's something about listening to the story that gives it a little extra atmosphere. Great job!

  6. Great podcast, Ant! You really found the core emptiness of their lives with this one.

  7. Superb! I read it first and then listened to your reading. Just great, bud.

  8. The blues are always sipped better with another bro.
    Great title and flow on this prose-I liked how you drifted in and out of the present and their regrets.
    Two thumbs and a cheer.

  9. Love the music you had set to this. Great podcast. Two buds exhausted with life, sittin' around sipping the good stuff and spilling their troubles.

    I always look forward to your prose poems.

  10. So I listened to your reading shortly before the power went out here. I would have left a brief compliment, but I wanted to give you a little more time than that.

    Like all your audio versions, the poem is read very well. You've come to a point where the songs are subtle and help mood, not interfering or overriding your narration at any point. Your voice is perfect for this kind of stuff, so much so that it's unsurprising you write it. I listen to you repeat "and the flask," and I think, this shouldn't be read any other way.

    That said, I hope you write more for these characters. I think you might owe it to them, for putting them in such a crap part of their lives. One thing I dislike about a great deal of poetry and Literary fiction is sticking prose in the negative. Your guys aren't unreasonably whiny or tragic. The circumstances of which they complain certainly happen. But with this sort of setup, I strongly feel they deserve a poem or two about trying to leave this crap point. You write of the trophies, "They were mostly old accolades for fishing and football" - mostly, meaning not all. Let's go to the thing he's done well lately. Let's ask out a woman from work who isn't a bombshell but might be a decent person. They don't have to run for president and beat all the odds - they can get one tenth of the satisfaction they want, but then at least you've put something in their tanks. If I may incredibly overstep my bounds as a casual reader/fellow-writer/facebook-friend, making them fight for it and giving them a few wins might be the next step for your writing. You do this kind of story very well; shades of it are in a lot of the posts on this blog (even echoes in the hilarious and depressing Sesame Street story). I would love to see how you take this and give them even half a triumph. The elements are there in this poem, if you wanted to give these two the shot rather than a brand new cast, and you're a heck of a writer.


  11. Very nice sir. My own skills as a poet are only rivaled by skills as a brain surgeon and that makes me appreciate what you have done here all the more.

  12. You do this prose poetry lark better than pretty much anyone I've read. Cushty!

  13. Music was great, so too was the reading, and the words were pretty good too, but Ant, I'm bloody depressed now. ;) Oh, that smiley just cheered me up.

  14. Oh, and I'd definitely like to read the product of John's advice...

  15. You have SUCH a voice.
    Sexy? Woo!
    You're like a character from the Sopranos, like Ray Liotta back when Ray Liotta was cool.
    The poem, yeah, yeah, it was good, but your voice!
    Love these podcasts.. hearing people read their own work. Like others have said, your voice matches your words perfectly.

  16. Anthony - I'm catching up on this for #spokensunday - as others have said, you've found your calling in doing podcasts. Your NJ accent is terrific and makes me feel like home :-) And the poem itself is very well done - i can picture these two guys sitting in the trailer. Male bonding, of a sort. I love your work :-)

  17. This was terrific! You captured the scene so deftly, and your reading was perfect.

  18. Thanks to everyone who read.

    I submitted this post for #Spoken Sunday and for some reason, some of the comments by readers are not publishing. Dunno why. Hopefully google will work it out.

    Anyway, thanks agaiin for reading...

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  20. Cool groove, Mr.A. Reminds me of my Uncle Bill and a black man named Lucifer Jones. Retired coal miners the both of them. Sittin' on Uncle
    B's porch in Coalton, West Virginia. Sippin' Jax beers out of paper bag camouflage and watchin' the cobalt blue skies while they listened to Dizzy Dean callin' the Cardinals game and whilr they talked about life, dynamite (Lucifer was an explosives man on the coal face), union strikes and deep, dark holes in the ground. Thanks for takin' me back there with these wonderful words of yours, my friend.


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