Bards & Brews Reader

JEN HAHN NIELSEN
Make Mine Moxie

 

It was a panacea before the Moxie Man wanted
you to make yours Moxie; before the 1918 fleet
of Moxie Horsemobiles; before it was a neologism.

It was nerve food.

The gentian root extract and chinchona was bitter
but Moxie was effective against paralysis; softening
of the brain; nervousness; insomnia; insanity when

caused by nervous exhaustion; the tired, sleepy, listless
feeling; fatigue from mental overwork; loss
of manhood; imbecility; and general helplessness.

It was laced with cocaine.

When you were in my womb, I found a bottle of Moxie
soda at the candy store in Lakeside—that store with the
upbeat, married couple in matching aprons who

came to work in separate cars—

and it was comforting to know that, despite
its commercial evolution, I could fine this artifact
on a beach of Lake Michigan in this tourist town.

There was no cocaine, of course,

but the Moxie Man was still there on the label, pointing
a stern finger in my direction with dark eyes that followed
as I moved about the store

like the empty shell of a warn-torn friend.

Originally published in Rock & Sling

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