Various and Sundry Poetry

the bar

Because I told myself not to have that second drink, knowing it would blur
my courage, make me forget the history between us that had nailed the coffin
of our efforts shut for good, I am rigid on the stool, arms square
against the glass, sipping, sipping, like I’m counting old coins one by one.
You are so loose in your seat, catapulting your hand on my wrist
for emphasis, throwing your head back as you chuckle at some small story
in which I don’t quite belong. And I’m remembering the morning we kissed
for the first time, after that night at the bar where two martinis let us hurry
through niceties so that our knees could touch and our beginnings could begin.
The way our lips opened like the gate they were to let our tongues slip in.

Now, I clamp my teeth around the rim, tilt the glass for one last quaff,
and a drunken maraschino slides against my mouth, sweetheart-red,
stained saccharine. It’s time to go, your clutch empty, my own laugh
flatlining, and whatever still breathing between us as good as lost or dead.
We’re like a legless insect, making turn after turn but spinning, futile,
into the same tiny radius. I try to knot the cherry stem but again
the ends won’t thread, and I wonder how long it will
take us to stop meeting like this, how many more folds the napkin
has left in it. When we say goodbye, the hug is chaste, our touch threadbare.
Outside, it’s just begun to rain, and a heavy scent - like whiskey - fills the air.