The bartender was a Jack or an Eddie,

chunky chested, tall and Irish,

mongrel mustache hiding gruff disgust,

a nod here or there, black eyeball analysis,

gliding the bar in broad black suspenders

digging ice with highball glasses as he went;


shook them their usuals at 4:30 p.m. –

O’Toole, King, Roark and Sturges –

in the chatter and smoke of a three man combo,

happy hour secretaries tapping ashtrays,

laughing at each other or nothing at all;


sent those middle aged men home in deserted,

brightly lit downtown streets

blackly shining with slicks of rain,

King in need of a job,

the others in need of women,


sent them into studio apartments

to fall asleep under lights of floor lamps

on stuffed colorless chairs,

dress shirts yanked open at the place

where the stripes of their ties

formed the knot of a noose

that was part of the deal




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