One Night at Shakey’s Pub
by David Mathews

“Strive to live content in the midst of those things that cause your discontent.” —St. Vincent DePaul

You might not know this little fact:
I used to tend bar at this little place
where Shakespearean characters hung out.
My favorite regular was Nick Bottom,
surprisingly British for an ancient Greek.
Nick was the kind of guy who would tip well,
because he understood the value of work.
Late one humid midsummer weekend night
while Thin Lizzy lyrics shouted: “…and if
the boys wanna fight you better let them…”
Iago’s subtle whispered encouragement
sent Nick Bottom into a drunken rant.
Falstaff tried to get Nick back to his pint,
But once the lion was uncaged he roared:
“You think I am funny? Is it that damn
funny I want to play the bloody lion?
Look at the rude mechanical acting…
Do you think I just want to be weaving?
And weaving, weaving, weaving all the time?
To wake up and work for lazy royals?
Sod off will yous! At least I don’t get scared
of dirty hands and hard work unlike yous!
You rat bastards with your pretty iambs!
Ah bloody L! You don’t really know shite!
How do you value anything at all?
All you got is your bloody lousy ennui!”
Falstaff finally got Nick out of there,
before Puck turned him into an ass again.
The Duke of Dark Corners too busy to care.
Oddly, Richard The Third turned from his drink:
“Good man, do not let them make you a villain!”
I’m like Nick. I enjoy the same anger.
It’s hard to be content in discontent.

ILLUSTRATION: Nick Bottom costume designed by C. Wilhelm for 1932 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare in Manchester, U.K.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I originally wrote this in Richard Jones’ class at DePaul. Nick Bottom is one of my favorite Shakespearean characters—I feel a connection to him. We both come from humble means, want to express ourselves through art, people above us prefer we serve under them, and enjoy turning us into asses.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Mathews earned his MA in Writing and Publishing at DePaul University. His work has appeared in Eclectica Magazine, After Hours, CHEAP POP, One Sentence Poems, OMNI Reboot, Word Riot, Silver Birch Press, and Midwestern Gothic. His poetry was nominated for The Best of The Net and received awards from the Illinois Women’s Press and the National Federation of Press Women. A lifelong Chicagoan, he currently teaches at Wright College and College of Lake County.