It is the hour when the night curdles—
milk poured into a glass of merlot.
All the beautiful options of two drinks ago
have congealed into something that tastes
less good than it looks, and no longer
looks particularly good. An hour ago,
I was trying on other people’s lips
like expensive shoes, imagining
how they would feel on my cheek,
and it seemed that any pair here might fit
me perfectly—I might wear any of them
home. Now, I’m the sort of water
you only swallow in a drought, dousing
for a mouth that’s full of sand.
The bartender drums his fingers
on the bar top. If we don’t leave soon,
he’ll turn on the bright lights and
we’ll all have to see our disappointing
selves blazing in the mirror behind
the tiered liquor bottles and none of us
want to see ourselves in the mirror.
Under the blur of bourbon, my smile
feels like a locket with a secret inside,
but in the light it will smear into something
you might find folded in a napkin.
We are all blind with our eyes closed,
so quick, let’s become clumsy enough
to bump into someone and pretend
it was a mistake. My mouth is an orchard
of regrets just waiting to be picked.
Quick, the door to the past is fused shut,
and the door to the future is closing,
It’s almost midnight—if we go to bed
now, I still won’t get enough sleep,
and I’ll only be older in the morning.
It is the hour when we make our worst
decisions and all our best bad decisions
are already behind us and this is not
just a time of night, it is a time of life.
There is no bartender and there is no bar
and no amount of coffee will silence
the clanging bell of wake up, wake up—
you are late again.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 19, Issue 3.
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