Winter 2017 — THE POTOMAC
Motel or bar — paradise with
a vacancy sign on permanent blink,
or a neon wave of welcome.
Traffic in all directions, booze
poured as fast as a snake slithering
up to a solo female, as fights break
out between lovers crossed and baked.
Is there a bouncer at the gates,
letting in the more visually pleasing —
or do looks cease to matter at this point?
What to make of the ones leaving —
does paradise bore the senses
after a while — or were they kicked out?
In through the out door, reverse and head
sideways, maybe head down south —
it's warmer and people keep to themselves,
sip drinks nobody can pronounce
in slow motion to preserve the buzz
for the long term. Check out times
and last call varies, depending on
how much cash changes hands,
and what kind of mood the boss is in.
ANDY'S ARK TAVERN
The nights begin at dawn —
various faces become family as the drinks
flow. Nobody wants to go home;
some don't have homes to go to.
Carl walks in with Trish. Last week
he was on Sue; next week it could be
somebody's mother. What happens
in the Ark, stays in the Ark. What happens
outside the Ark is open for revenge.
Since the factory closed, the town has
taken up full-time drinking, with plenty
of openings to fill.
Trish heads to the jukebox, slides in her
dollar and starts pushing. She wants the hard
stuff: AC/DC, Black Sabbath, early Metallica.
Maybe some rap to piss off the locals.
Carl heads to the bar to get some shots.
He shoots a quick glance at Trish, who has
her eye on some guy from the next town over.
He doesn't care; no use getting angry
over a woman he barely knows.
There'll be plenty of time for more women —
not like he has anywhere else to go,
or anyone to get home to; hasn't set
an alarm clock in months.
Sitting in my car in front of the old apartment,
I watch a stream of human traffic stagger in
through the front and side doors, prepping
for what I left behind. Autumn winds
chill the skin, setting the stage for winter
to arrive early and take over curtain calls.
Sirens in the distance — soon to be closer
than comfort — a reminder that reverie
often colors regret. Some leave bad situations —
disappear to never return to sort through
memories; others stray but never
fully detach, returning to sniff around
the leftovers. I sink lower in the seat,
before good sense nudges me to turn the key.
Nights around here are no place for strays,
no matter how deep or long the connection.