The Bartender Told Me… (1)


It was that last shot of whiskey that cut through the fug,
the upmarket bar in downtown New York
playing host to their long promised tryst ,
curtain-opening politeness drew back
for natural toe-dip glimpses of soul,
any tongue trips gently flinched away
with a brushed aside panic, easily excused,
and a sidestep mention of the comfortable jazz,
which oozed into the booth where they sat.

The natural curveball teases were caught every time,
as the drinks got shorter and the jokes got louder
and the barriers dissolved under his
nearly accidental brush to her thigh,
her slow eyed knowing smile, consenting
with a stroke to his collar, his cheek, his lips,
the burning ignition of that first easy kiss
as his left hand wandered beneath her blouse
her right hand gliding up to his chest

before the bartender cleared his throat,
set them right with last orders, gave a grin,
stepped away, whistling to an old Sinatra,
as they chinked cheers with the last,
the flash fire cooled to a teenage blush,
and he dug for his show stopping, never fails phrase,
crashed down his half full glass and declared,
‘My daddy once shot a black man off a telegraph pole.’

She would swear someone pinched the left side of her belly,
as the shared hours imploded into lethal crisp shards
slicing the bar, the chairs, the staff,
a Tarantino bloodbath of lethal disappointment,
and him, oblivious,
as she drained her half empty glass and she played it over,
ignored the goosebumps prickling up her arms, down her back,
played it over, swallowed hard, played it over, slowly replied,
‘You know, I once shot a white man from the very same pole.’

He closed his mouth from its decapitated chuckle,
doubt darted across his forehead, past his eyes,
visibly sinking into swamped ego
as she changed the subject, crept past unmentionables,
and they drew back their hands a little, determinedly subtle,
while the pauses lengthened, the politeness returned,
and they departed, leaving nothing in the tip jar,
the clunk of a penny drop still resounding
as they barely spoke their farewell.

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