Men in Bars

Kate Angus

BPR 44 | 2017

A man walks into a bar: you love him,
you’re trying to forget him. No,
it’s snowing thick as ashes—Christmas
2007. The man’s a boy. He loves you, stares
across the table with lips
curled open, huge terrified eyes. He’s a fish you’ve sharp-hooked,
suffocating
in this air.
He tells his friends he’s going to marry you
when he’s older, tells a series of his girlfriends that he loves you too.
A man
walks into a bar.
This is the future. There are lots of men
in bars—it’s a lot like the past, the future. A man walks in, smiling.
A man walks out later
with a blonde who you will
spend a year helping him grieve. Walks out with a chubby redhead.
With a brunette who has your exact haircut,
but was born fifteen years behind.
A man texts you from a bar that he misses you
until he doesn’t. The screen of your phone is a closed
black book—not like Gideon’s Bible; this has nothing
to do with heaven. It’s just earth we live in,
this humble splendor, this realm
of almost kisses, of sugar mixed thick
in coffee—the spoon’s slow hurricane stir.
A man walks into a bar
and now you’d follow him, find him anywhere
if you could
but you shut that book. You’re the one who closed it.
Remember that:
no matter how many roulette turns, how many spins
of the fortune wheel, it’s going to end on you.
You closed the night
dank and airless as your bedroom.
A man
walks into a bar.
No, wait, that’s you.
You walk into the bar. Why are you always walking
so fast so late at night?
The streetlights
each cast a tiny globe of light, a little planet;
look at how you weave
in between.
You walk into the bar, order
a scotch and soda. It’s good.
Order an extra one for him.
Now you’re sitting down at the scarred
wooden table—everyone writes their love here
with the sharp edge of a key.
The chair across from you is empty.
Men walk in;
you’re waiting.
The door swings open
and shut like wings—those rusty metal hinges.
A man walks into a bar: this time
it’s your man—not yours exactly,
but the one you want.
Maybe he’ll forgive you now,
maybe he’s the one who needs forgiveness.
Who cares?
Every broken word happened
a long time ago.
He sees you;
he’s coming over,
sits down at the table across from you
and stares:
you’re so much older; he’s older too.
What will you tell him?
All these years
are gone, each month
a matchbook, spent.
A man sits in a bar; he’s sipping
a slow gold brandy. No,
he’s drinking the smoky scotch you ordered for him, the soda’s diluted tang.
Look at him.
Smile. Let’s say you’re both smiling.
Open your mouth. Your lips
are a little ship; teeth white
and sharp—Hollywood icebergs. Your tongue unfurls.
Now see where this sails.