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.

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