Corner Bar

It always felt familiar and safe;
not like home, but filled with that same
tragic scent of failure, futility, and confusion.
In this darkened chapel, night after night,
we feigned brotherhood, but watched our backs.
We found religion in tall tales
and twisted notes floating softly from the jukebox.
The enormity of the lies exchanged was at times staggering,
yet not once was truth demanded.

Here, we worshiped at the mahogany and brass altar of amber absolution,
our sins washed in a flood of cheap whiskey and stale beer.
Our bottles filled the night with dead words and hungry ashtrays
and all these incessant “maybes”
while shameless calls for “another!” filled the tepid air.

We licked the back of our teeth
and bought rounds for the prostitute sitting there all alone,
hunched over to entice our drunken libidos.
We adored her, this faded Madonna,
with her chipped teeth and sagging breasts,
reeking of a stale alcohol and tragic perfume.
Where once there had been beauty and life
some bastard had beaten it out of her;
taking everything that made a woman good and reduced her to this.
Our prayers were answered
in the way this whore swallowed you whole
in the back room’s secret confessional
where you keep her words tightly knit
in the dark corners of your heart.

This was the flip-side of our saintly home-lives;
our souls consumed in the repetition of it all.
We whispered our hallelujahs as the clock struck two;
last call and a slow retreat into the shameless shadows of wretched existence,
as God soundly closed the doors behind us.

The Poet’s Lair

Whiskey sour. The most appropriately named
of all libations. It dances circles around “whiskey
neat,” because I’ve never been neat about my
drinking, but I’ve often been sour.
“If you’re going to be scribbling in that journal,
howse about you take that someplace else,”
barks Rudy, my corner bartender. I’ve been
a steady since before Rudy came to work
here, but there truly is no sanctuary for the poet.
“Kiss my flattened arse, you bastard, and pour me
another,” I reply without even looking up. He laughs,
flips me the finger, and grabs a near empty bottle
of Maker’s Mark. “You ever published any of that
shit?” he rejoins as he pours. “Listen,” says I, “stick to your
areas of expertise, which I believe is football (soccer)
and whores, and leave the writing to me. We’ve
both problem enough with our own curses.”
“You ever write about me..the bar?” he persists.
“Not until this very moment.” I concede and with
that I slam my notebook shut with profound defeat.