I see him on 3rd Avenue
on my way to buy beers
even though we said the wine was it.
He’s talking to his kid.
We don’t really talk
outside of the joint,
but I stop.
I say hi to him and his kid.
The kid, reluctantly, slaps me five.
He says he’s sorry about the other night.
About his behavior
And I tell him it was cool.
It wasn’t his fault,
that he slammed down his beer
and yelled that he just wanted one hour.
Where no one was nagging him,
where things could just be cool.
One hour a day. That’s all he had.
He kept saying that part over again.
That was all he had.
Godamnit. One Hour.
And I understood. Cause sometimes,
that’s all we ever got.
Sometimes we got even less than that.
I told him not to worry about it.
He was right. Things were messed up in there.
That couple wouldn’t stop fighting.
Lately they were both always drunk
and ruining the vibe
and I want to tell him after he left that night
it only got worse.
I want to tell him next time,
come sit down on the other end of the bar with
my husband and I.
We’ll ignore all their bullshit.
We’ll talk about music and books like we do sometimes.
You’ll lend me a new novel
one that I would have never read
and my husband will burn you a couple cds.
It’s nice that way.
We’ll play songs on the jukebox and drum on the bar
You’ll buy us an beer and then we’ll return the favor.
We’ll stay away from the toxic.
Some people don’t know how to act.
They have no discretion.
But I don’t say any of this.
I just keep telling him it wasn’t his fault.
He tells his kid to say goodbye
and the kid does with a limp little wave,
squinting in the light.
As we go to leave
I turn back and say, “It’s just getting so fucked up in there,”
and I cringe.
I shouldn’t have said that.
I shouldn’t have mentioned it again.
I shouldn’t have talked about that whole other life
and those people and how sick and informal it’s all gotten
like we are all officers on a sinking ship.
But most of all
I shouldn’t have said fuck in front of his kid
and on my way to buy beers,
what the hell do I know about discretion?
22 hours ago