I entered through the center door
and the room was full of bowling pins,
along with several red guitars
growing out of the walls.
On the stage there was a woman swaying
in a shining dress and her movements
washed over everything like how
night fills all the space the day
is done with.

I don’t know what the people
were drinking, but it looked like
the battery acid I once saw
on the floor of my grandfather’s
garage, a kind of neon orange
puddle that reflected nothing.
In the cloudiness of the spirits
no one spoke or met each other’s eyes.
They were surprised I even walked in
to begin with.

I knew how it was outside,
and it was conditions like that
that made places like this.
Little fortifications against
the machinery, the order,
the ticking clock.
This was a place to stop,
and ask for nothing, but
another drink for you to think
about the distant past when
there wasn’t anyone to tell you
what to be or how to do
what you’d been doing.

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