“Make it a Double” by Randall McNair

Make it a Double: More poems from my 10-year bender inside heaven’s dive bar (Bar Poems)

Randall McNair
Bits of Steak Press (2021)
ISBN: 978-173510804-9
Reviewed by Amy Lignor for Reader Views (01/2022)

Okay…here we go! Two priests, a mule, and an angry elf walk into a bar….

Just kidding! A) I won’t put you through that. B) That was a shot at a bad joke, while this book is a FANtastic collection of poems to mull over at the bar; it also makes a great gift. Randall McNair’s poems are far better than any jokes I could try to hand you. In fact, these are so witty and fun that eighteen bottles of beer are not necessary in order to enjoy each and every one. (No, I didn’t mean to rhyme there.)

McNair titles himself “Poet Laureate of the Absurd” (I love that, by the way), and he makes sure to put a disclaimer right up front telling the reader that this is “NOT your mother’s poetry.” That his collection is “written by a man for men.” However, I must say that, although I do not own the appendages he and his male comrades do, I actually loved the poems in this collection, which is Book 2 out of a trilogy. I do know that many females would get offended by “some” of the words written here, and some of the awkward lighting that the female has to stand in during the poetry, but I say: “Lighten up and have a laugh. This is definitely not a sermon or the words of a pastor, so stop whining and just enjoy!”

Separated into sections titled: “The Status Quo,” “The Descent,” “Death in the Middle,” “The Rising,” and ending with “Return with the Elixir,” the poet laureate leads us through the process of being stand-up and sturdy to the transformation into one of the drooling, absurd, annoying, entertaining drunks we’ve all met along the way. Raunchy as well as self-loathing moments are a part of the prose, but so is the machismo that seems to leak out of the pores of the “manly man” when he’s allowed to nurse his favorite bottle of booze.

In all seriousness, though, I also want to rave about a variety of poems that have actual heart. They tell of people, lost and living, and love, the heart, etc., so McNair does offer up true snippets of beauty and solace and understanding between those who frequent bars quite often. I will not harm the poet by giving too much away in this review, but there are certain works – like “Drunk Genius” – where it’s written, I am a drunk and she deletes my poems, believing that a drunk is incapable of genius; otherwise they would be called genius instead of drunk, that caught my eye and had me thinking about life. When it comes to pieces such as this, you will find insight, humor, and basic reality. And, yes, you will enjoy them.

In “Eighty Dollars Ago,” McNair claims that: Eighty dollars ago I was somewhat charming and capable of witty banter. You want to know what he is after…three rounds and six fingers of whiskey later…? Well, you gotta read the book. (Duh!)

My advice is to start with Book 1: “Dispatches from the Swinging Door.” However, it is not needed in order to enjoy this. But I have to say there is true gold in some of these poems that you absolutely don’t want to miss out on This guy is the real deal when it comes to being honest (at times, brutally so), and allows readers to take a step inside his life in order to witness his days, his thoughts, and his ability to take a maudlin or insignificant subject and turn it into perfection. Truly a charmer, McNair did not disappoint whatsoever. (I doubt he’d say the same about my jokes.)

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