I feel like the 21st wheel
on a big ass truck roaring down the highway
like a beast. This tank doesn’t need any anecdotes
for the ensuing party that jams
headlong with guys pissing off the back end
and women screaming when their names call them
back up to the mic for another go-round.
In the far corner someone is napping.
A woman sings “I’ve got trouble in my town.”
A moment ago another girl was “Torn,”
and the karaoke director declared last call.
I wonder about some of the faces I’m seeing
when another woman steps up and sings,
“If she wants to be freak and sell it weekend,”
it’s none of my business.
I know she’s right and I sit back take another sip
from the din that carries memories and odors
of alcohol and cigarette smoke
that will never completely abandon places like this.
It is like everything else covered in the laughter.
The declarations of “Never again!”
The cheers for sports teams, scores and “Oh shit’s!”
Conversations mingle in and out
become the sounds of glasses being poured
until they overflow. Then the words
suddenly blend and everyone sings,
“She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son.”
Then drifts like a tide slipping back into an ocean
and the beat is the only thing distinct
gushing through a cocktail party
where no words can be found.
It is a place for the local color
where sometimes one passes out
and another strikes up a bout only to get taken out,
and someone else gets ejected.
It’s a place where after one night
you are now a part of the tribe
and are expected back once and a while.
Sit alone quietly or mingle in the cacophony.
The taps are still pouring and the lights are now fading.
The slower songs of longing are drifting
over the din dwindling and turning the talk
into words of wanting.
The bartender looks over and he gives me a smile
because it’s me he’s glad to see.
He throws his arm across my shoulder
and drops a drink without asking.
The crowd fades, but the stragglers remain.
There is laughter, and one or two have a tear.
They will both return another day
to wind away from the world
to be with friends with acquaintances.
It is a place where everyone might not know your name,
but everyone certainly knows your face.
It is a place where the baffled king sits at the bar composing
and another puts his hand on my shoulder
and says Halleluiah.