By John Bargowski

I’d already watched him do it a hundred times,
my old man talking me through each step

since I was a young kid, forever warning me
about blow-off, all the hazards

of pressurized air as I stood behind him silently
mouthing: toggle, regulator, output port,

and watched him slide the tap into the spear
of the barrel and lock it down.

So as soon as I’d grown strong enough
to handle a full barrel,

maneuver it around the beer cooler, I followed
him into the basement of the D&J.

I can still hear the rattling compressor kick in,
feel the blast of CO2 sizz past my face,

the ache from the squeeze of his chapped hand
on my shoulder that big day

he shadowed me as I straddled the barrel
then opened the cut-off valve

and let the Rheingold stream through the tubing
to the upstairs spigot.

And after I sopped up spillage from the lip
of the bunghole, tumbled the empty

onto it’s dimpled belly and rolled it out
the double-sealed door into the cellar

then stacked it in a webby corner, I wish
I’d gone back inside, to finish the job,

scratched my name next to his on the rime
coated walls of the walk-in cooler.

John Bargowski’s poem “Tapping” (page 150) will appear in his new book
American Chestnut (Stephen F. Austin State University Press). His first book,
Driving West on the Pulaski Skyway, selected by Paul Mariani for the Bordighera
Prize, was published in 2012. His poems have also appeared on Poetry Daily
and in The Gettysburg Review, New Letters, and Southern Poetry Review.

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