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Steve Page Mar 2
as he sat soft beside me.
“Sure,” I said, with ill feeling.
My instinct was not to cross my friend,
I had too few left.

I nodded to the Ape behind the bar and he obliged
with one lemon & ginger and one green tea.
He knows his regulars well
and we know we’d need to wait til later for anything stronger.

“Look,” he said, and I turned to see
a gap and I counted the two teeth that were missing -
no, not missing - he opened his hand
and there they were, both accounted for,
safe and secure in his grey leathery palm.

“Look,” he repeated, (a little slurred this time)
and turned his fist so I could see
the missing skin and the bruises
that gave testimony to his amateur status.  

His ****** grin and wet laughter
shook the silverback back into action
and we got a plate of malted milks.
Like I say, he knows his regulars well
and he’d listened when I told him
where he could get a regular supply,
direct from Staffordshire, in the UK.

“Lo-ok,” he said (more hesitant this time)
and lifted his shirt a little to reveal the knife wound,
replete with knife, buried to the hilt.

“Loo-,“ he started to say, as he slid off the bar stool
taking his tea with him, the porcelain shattering on the stone floor.

I winced – the cups had been a gift
to the Ape from my mother.
‘Why should the chimps get all the best crockery?’ she’d explained.

“I’ll pay for the breakage,” I said
and the Ape nodded his furrowed brow
as he swung round to grab the dustpan and mop.

I drank my tea,
counting off the friends that remained.
Inspired by the vibe in Dave Newman's collection, The Poem Pactory, published by White Gorilla Press.
Steve Page Oct 2023
A woman walks into a bar,
alone on a Friday night,
daring assumptions,
orders a pint
and gets out her book.
That's it.  There's nothing else to write.
What?  Not clichéd enough for you?
Let's bust stereotypes
Serendipity Mar 2023
The cold air hits my lungs,
as the animal in my body
takes ragged breaths
vapor and fear
a familiar stench.

The night smells like metal,
with the sun now eroding
the starry sky.

There is no time to think of how I got here.
A corroding metal bar swinging in the air
just missing
my head.
Steve Page May 2022
Let's raise our glass to the many and the few
and far between two stools waiting at the bar
with contaminated peanuts
for company and an empty
beer mat ready for the happy
hour rush. And only the lonely truly know
hurt only makes you stronger
and the truth of needing
a glass of something stronger still.
started playing with idioms and ended in a quiet bar
Anyone can enter your church
No matter what their age
Mine, well, you have to be legal
At least in the section that doesn't serve food

Yours smells of incense and candle wax
The air smells of wood polish
Mine has stale beer and on humid days
Remnants of cigars and cigarettes from years ago

We have windows that can open
But, most times they are painted shut
Yours, beautiful colors of glass
Images from the bible, glorious

You have a choir singing the grace of God
My place of worship has live bands once a month
Karaoke on Fridays with wanna be singers
Making us pray to God for it to end

You have pictures of Saints on your windows
And tapestries on the walls
The closest we have is posters of sports teams
And The St. Pauli girl promoting beer

You will never find me at your church
But, we may find you in ours on occasion
We don't have sacramental wine like you
But, we do have a larger drink menu for all

People come to your church to wash away their sins
Then a few hail Mary's and a Lord's Prayer
With us, they come to drown their sorrows
And our hail Mary's have bacon, 2 for 1 on Sunday

Our sky pilot will listen like your pastor
He doesn't judge unless you get too drunk
But, that's on him, not you
Your pastor won't judge, but, still gives penance

I know where I am Sunday
I know where you are too
Your church is not always open
Mine's good from 10 till 2
Elaenor Aisling Nov 2021
TW: Rpe, Sucide

Dionysus wipes his hands
With a wine dark-cloth,
His bar the confessional booth, for gods and mortals.
The absinthe green of his eyes loosens tongues
until their sins fall from their mouths like snakes and stones,
clattering onto the tarnished marble bar.
The stinking incense of each dog-eared dollar,
sustains him in its foul smoke,
the muttered prayers over empty glasses
chants and cries and pains and joys
Falling over each other like drunken feet,
Weaving themselves into stories
He recounts to Ariadne in the morning
As she folds laundry, and he does the dishes.
The threads of small mortal lives hanging around them untethered.
His patrons check their best at the door, he knows this,
Welcomes it,
He still has the best wine in the city
Even if they ***** it into the storm drain outside.

Asclepius stops in after his 12 hour shift
Eyes haggard
The blood of an attempted suicide on his scrubs,
the pull of a thousand witnessed deaths curled around his hip flexors,
Trying to drag him down with every step.
Still, he moves like a snake through sand,
The soundless strength of his movements
Ripple a wake of quietness, hallowed calm
On the floor they call him gentle giant
Always ask him to work full moons.
Artemis never did like him,
But the mortals are stilled
Under his hands.
Cracked and dry from over-washing
His knuckles bleed when he reaches for his glass.
At home Epione will take them in hers,
Rub lotion into the palms with the pad of her thumb, working her way in concentric circles all the way out, tenderest on the backs of his hands and their maze of scales and interstices,
The strong cherry-tang scent of almonds rising from their fingers.
At work sometimes he will feel the ghost of her touch
Crave it, as the sanitizer and soap smart against his skin,
This is an old intimacy they have always shared—the meeting of fingers, the firm pull of her thumb against palm,
And sometimes the way she traces the faded green lines of the serpent tattoos that twine around his forearms,
The slow caress of her index finger, the tiny scrape of her nail
Until her hand encircles his neck, cradles the serpent’s head
And she leans in to kiss him.
He will go home to her in an hour
When he is warm from the whiskey
And his mind is a little softer,
Some of the blood washed away.
He sighs,
Men are curing men
But they always find new ways to **** others
and themselves.

Athena’s seat is in the back, near the fire escape,
Where the shattered vinyl of the seat
Scrapes her thighs like desert sand.
Steel eyes to the door,
She gulps ***** neat.
After her second deployment, it’s the only thing that stills her hands.
Her pearled teeth gnaw the end of a burned cigarette—
If she chews hard enough,
the tobacco replaces the taste of her staff sergeant’s tongue, his breath, his blood.
Bodies in the dark, the vice-gripped wrists,
She bit, she clawed, she kicked,  
the muscles weakened by so few prayers
the dim fire in her eyes could not muster a single flash,
a flintlock in rain,
and she was another nymph, another Cassandra—
No one believed,
no one believed.
She can still feel Cassandra’s arms locked around her calves,
hear Ajax’s guttural grunts,
she understands now.
But for her there was no temple, no statue,
She tries to cling to herself,
But falls away to dust,
The guttural grunts of the staff sergeant echo as
The memories drag her, screaming, across her bedroom floor
Poseidon cannot drown them,
Only ***** can
And no one believes,
No one
Goal was to write a modern interpretation of Greek gods and goddesses. Title drawn from Niel Anderson's album/song.
Bongha Lee Apr 2021
I ripped out of the old tavern
Into the torn indigo overcoat
And traveled under the porticoes of a billion fantastic stars
To celebrate this marvelous November night.

In the labyrinth of bricks and stones
I hum and whistle the Irish song
Like a singer before the orchestra, my multitudes.
How exquisite—Avec un plaisir de génie—is my peripatetic existence!
Lungs full of air, and I see the Muse in me.

My treasured newsboy cap from a thrift shop spins on my hand,
And my feet bubbles off the floor like soda pops.
I pray my gratitude to the one above the altar
For my indomitable freedom. Amen.

A pocket change rolling, bikes uninhabited, and lampposts perpetual.
A rolled cigarette wantonly leaned between my sticky lips.
Autumnal dews wetted my forehead like spiriting wine.
And while, scarf blowing, boots tattered,  
I raised my odalisque eyes heavenward
The world pixelated above my moist eyes
Like a seabed of jewelry stars
Please critique this.
Bardo Jul 2021
The town was quiet when the Poet rode in
Not a soul was to be seen
A dog barked somewhere and a door banged noisily in the wind,
He wore a long grey coat flecked with dirt and mud
Two buttons had been left undone and there through the opening could be seen, his gun!
His eyes they had a tired look as if looking out wearily on the world
As he moved up the street, curtains parted and nervous little eyes peeped out
Suddenly a door opened and a woman rushed out across the street
Behind a barrel outside the hardware store, a small boy... hiding!
She began to scold him. "Ah Ma! he protested, I just wanted to get a good look at him, see him up close"
"Quiet!" she commanded, then turning toward the Poet while shielding the boy
She said defiantly "Their bad! Their wicked evil men!
But the Poet just kept on going, riding on as if she wasn't there
His eyes fixed straight ahead,
Finally he stopped outside the saloon, dismounted, tied his horse to the hitching Post
Went inside, the spurs of his boots clanking on the floor as he walked
"What'll it be Stranger ?" offered the Bartender
"Gimme a whiskey", said the Poet,"an Irish whiskey"
At a table playing cards, some heads turned
Then there were some excited whispers
"Look! it's the Bardo Kid, the Bardo Kid!!!"
"What has you around these parts Stranger ?" asked the Barkeep inquisitively
"I'm looking for someone", answered the Poet, "goes by the name of... Zardo!"
Another man drinking at the bar suddenly began to splutter
As if his drink had gone down the wrong way
Bardo eyed him suspiciously
"Don't look at me Bardo, I'm not Zardo, Me! I'm Vargo"
"Well Vargo", said Bardo, "you seen Zardo around ?"
"I ain't seen Zardo Bardo" said Vargo
Then he quickly drained his glass and hurriedly left
Bardo watched him go.
"Whose looking for Zardo ?" came a voice suddenly from the stairs and the shadows
It was a woman's voice. It was Miss Lilly, the Saloon Madam, a mature lady, still pretty but who'd seen better days
She came down the stairs out of the shadows
Walked right up to the Poet
But then almost losing her breath in surprise
Almost as if she'd just seen a ghost
She said with a strange note of familiarity "Bardo!!!"
The Poet too, seemed taken aback
"Lilly!" he said a bit shyly and took off his hat,
They both stood there looking at each other for a moment
"You've gotten older Bardo... more worn, I'd hardly know you"
"Been a long time... I guess" replied the Poet awkwardly,
"Where... what...whatever happened to you... Bardo ?.... I often wondered".
It was a very disarming question, for a moment the Poet seemed lost for words
"I...I've been away... far faraway"
Then gathering himself he said with a tinge of bitterness
"What happened. Life happened I guess, dealt me a bad hand, I suppose I was never gonna measure up. It was inevitable wasn't it... me and this world
I could only have turned to a Life of...a Life of Rhyme"
Bardo looked at Lilly standing there in her tawdrily ostentatious red Saloon dress
Showing a bit of cleavage
Grown slightly plump now, with some grey strands through her hair
And crowsfeet starting to appear around her eyes, he asked sadly
"What happened to you... Lilly ?
For a moment she looked like she was going to cry.
"O! I do a bit of singin' ..dancin'... deal cards, serve drinks, and do a whole lot of listenin' to lonely men and their troubles, try to cheer them up and get them to buy some more drink, keep the party going.  That's the game anyway" she admitted almost ashamedly. Then she continued. "We seen some good times though, didn't we, you and I, once when we were younger, for awhile there we ran young and wild and free, didn't we ?"
"Yea, young and wild...and... and stupid" answered Bardo with regret.
"What's this... what's this about Zardo ? asked Lilly smiling, "remember you always used to like that name".
"He's been saying things about me, running me down... damaging my reputation
Says he's faster than I am, that he could take me anytime, says I'm nothing but trouble, that I'm a no good lowdown critter, said he's gonna bring me in one day soon.
I was curious about him, thought I'd maybe like to meet this person".
"But he's only young" replied Lilly defending him, " he was just shooting off at the mouth, you know young people, their full of arrogance and foolish pride. You know how Life twists people and makes them into something their not".
Bardo looked at her closely "Do you know him ?"
Lilly hesitated a moment, then said almost tearfully " He's my son Bardo".
"I never knew you had a kid" said Bardo very surprised.
Lilly looked Bardo right in the eyes and then confided "He's our kid Bardo... you remember that time, that Summer we had together, that brief moment in time when we found each other and we thought this world was ours" .
"Why didn't you tell me, why didn't you send word, you could have reached me, I would have come", said Bardo.
"O! You'd be so proud of him Bardo, he grew up to be strong and straight and true
He has a job here as a young Deputy now".
Suddenly they heard a commotion outside and then the batwing doors of the Saloon swung open
And in strode a lean figure wearing a Tin Star
It was Zardo!!!
A big crowd had formed behind him, they were egging him on
"So!" he said looking straight at Bardo,"we meet at last, if it isn't the Great, The Bardo Kid
The Fastest Pen in the West
The Fastest Rhyming Couplets this side of the Pecos
I'm taking you in...Old-timer
Heh! You don't look so tough,
I bet I could take you easy".
Lilly tried to intervene "No son, you've got it all wrong !
"Stay out of this Mom !" he warned coldly, a bit embarrassed seeing her there
Then almost as if he'd just realized something very important he said angrily to Bardo
"What are you doing talking to my Mom ?
Why you ***** rotten varmint".
Lilly screamed "Nooo!!! "
Zardo drew first but Bardo was quicker
Before Zardo had got his gun out, Bardo's had already cleared his holster
Lilly cried "Please Bardo don't hurt my boy!!"
Bardo let off a whole barrage of shots
Zardo only got off one solitary shot
But strangely... strangely it was Bardo who dropped to the floor
Zardo stood there shaken and dazed
"How can I still be alive?" he said,"he was way faster than I was. And he fired so many shots, he couldn't have missed them all'.
Suddenly the Bartender let out a shout and pointed his finger
"Look!" he said in amazement, Look!  Look at the wall behind you"
They all turned and there on the wall behind Zardo, drawn in bullets... the outline of a little heart.
A bit like Red River this without the cattle LoL. I have to own up here and say. I had the first part of this written for a long time but couldn't do anything with it. But then one day I was remembering back and remembered I read a Western story one time as a child. The hero's name was Lane I think, Life had been unkind to Lane, he got into a lot of scrapes and developed a Bad Reputation. The story ended with him meeting his old childhood sweetheart and her telling him they had a child and he was now a Deputy. They then have a showdown, the Deputy son insults the Dad not knowing who he really is, Lane is quicker on the draw and draws a heart on the wall with his bullets. -I thought I'd try and put my own spin on it. Was never able to track that book down again.- And don't worry he only winged me LoL.
Bobby Dodds Apr 2021
In the bar where sad things grow,
           Where(s) Happiness(?),
is pumped in Like champagne through IV.
          “ Now
I’m the type of person
**** near in love with gratitude. ”
“ Like that glancing smile,
Hidden behind a mask of bourbon and-
all ten hail marys you replaced
                 with ****** ones. ”
“ And if gratitude gets you this far?
Just imagine what the *** is like.
a short little diddy recollecting some conversations I had with the miscellaneous crowds and comforters at choir concerts and orchestras    .
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