“It’s like this,” he said.

He said it real slow.

Then he said,

“Pass me that bottle.”

The bottle held rye,

a nice drink. Smooth

and savory from single grain.

He drank, but not too much,

just a sip clean and neat.

Then he put the glass down.

The glass he’d poured into,

his favorite glass,

the gift of a friend

no longer his friend.

He let the liquor sweeten

his disposition and continued.

“I’m a scapegoat,” he said.

“They blame me.”

“Who blames you?”

“They all blame me.

They drove me off, told me don’t

come back and I never did,

because I’m a good boy.

Doesn’t matter if you’re good

or bad if they make you a scapegoat.

That’s what they want you to be.

That’s what they need you to be.

That’s what they make you.”

He took another sip.

“Can’t change it.”

Then he said,

“Thank God.”

“Why thank God?”

“Because I’ve seen what

became of them,” he said.

The last sip of rye

went down.

“Scapegoat is better.”