moxie ad










It wasn’t a drink for kids, no, I would drink root beer

or orange Nehi—orange tonic in the local dialect.

With you in the variety store, which was dark and cool when the summer

air was hot, and yellow from the factories, while you joked

with the owners and passersby, charming them with stories,


the cool drinks with sugar pacified my precocious

nervousness; sometimes you gave me a sip of Moxie—

a relic, a tonic of strange herbs like tobacco or weeds,

making me burp and think I might throw up—proving

I couldn’t like the grown-up drink I begged to taste.


No one answers my questions, why you courted a child

and married her finally; why she married someone she never

respected, and kept you a child; why your talents, as you worked

for the father you hated, turned to schemes that no one trusted;

why you swallowed the hatred spat at you;


who would confess changing you, handsome young man

at the drugstore corner, turning ugly and sick and friendless?

When I finally hit you, at 17, I saw how easily

I could kill you. I thought that life is shame and defeat,

bitter as taunting by bullies in the street, bitter as Moxie.


Now my own son cries because I am not there.

“Daddy, hold me. Daddy, I don’t want to die

because no one will play with me then.” Hold me, the night

is filled with your brutality. Hold me, my legs are not

enough to stand. Hold me, it is cold these nights. Hold me.


They tried to keep it alive with a new formula, sweet

and lighter, like other soft drinks. Mad Magazine took up

the word. I’ve found it only once in my travels; it’s gone

like the Shmoo, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, and all

the undervalued wreckage of the past.






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