Last Call

Every night, it seems, not every night, but most nights
they arrive, lugging the late edition of their personal sagas
and their airy delight that we are home and still up
“. . . reading or something?” Their bar has closed

and at one o’clock there isn’t “. . . a whole hell
of a lot to do,”
but “ . . . stop by.” They’re lit,
they’re so lit they crackle at being free, drunk, and zany.
They sing the old Bob Dylan songs, or Loudon Wainwright,

they declare, “The circus is the basic syllogism
of the universe. Right? Right? Does a cat have
elbows, does a cake walk into town.”
Yelling against
the night, full of new rebellions, full of howling accounts

of their conversations tonight with women. They love
immediately and eternally, they would carry the stars
to her for her address, they would be sweet and subtle
always. But for now, they pop off, pour out one-liners,

bubble, foam, drinking my beer in the bar’s glasses,
Rising to a fast head of continuous packaged quips,
wrapped wisecracks out of their pockets, their best gems
in plain brown paper. They run on until one is starting

The water for a bath, while the other is shaving, complaining
about my dull edge. My Intended is changing for bed,
and I have been left holding the bag in my own house.
“Hate makes wakes.” “Like making brandy for a navy.”

They race the engines, “A word to the sufficient is enough.”
They burn the carbon out, “It’s the same ole baloney
on a rigmarole.”
They make the big swing, “But a dope
wrings a kernel in his blooming quest for . . .”
For what?

Love? What Love? What Love? But they tire, they go
flat, they remember work, money, their friends at the bar
tomorrow. We all say Goodnight, Adieu, see ya, toodle-
loo
in high voices. The cupcakes are gone, bottle caps,

cigarette ends everywhere. The leg of the only thing I ever
built it off, the TV is off, and they are off without their coats,
but back in a wave, for one last line, that quick corker, to put
the top on the night, and then walk home in amber glass.

Inside again, My Love and I begin bringing bottles and plates
to the sink, scraping frosting into the basket, seemingly
distracted, and careful not to see each other, in the warmth
of forced air, glancing through the curtains out after them.

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