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From the Back Bar

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Twenty so odd stools crowd round a half-wood bar,
filled with patrons in revelry, strangers bound by nothing
more than an ache to quench their thirsts. At day’s end,
we all share some deep recurring innate dryness,
and these guests all have flocked here to take some rest
before they gradually drift away into the night after
last call.

Somewhere between the sound waves and the smoke, there’s
something in the air that smacks of the miraculous:
A pair of hands desperately attacks a tray of glasses with a linen.
The tenders weave around the bottles and the tools like sorcerers
or prelates completing sacred rites. And the servers process
around the floor at breakneck pace, brandishing elixirs and tonics,
crafted for each and every guest who sits at ease confessing
joys and fears and hardships to their neighbors.

It’s a busy night:
Julep, Hawthorne, Collins, and Martini all have aching backs
as the clock makes its eleventh round. Then suddenly
a four top starts to sing along with earth, wind, and fire,
and by the time that everyone’s joined in, two pairs of
feet have started dancing in the corner by the window.
The side mirror tells a tale of spontaneous and
unmitigated joy.

And then it ends,
The stools are pulled out, wiped down, and inverted on the bar top.
All the evening’s apparatus goes through the necessary ablutions,
is absolved of any blemish and tucked in until the morning.
The table where those singers sat is sanatized completely and
in the half light, a mop removes the final traces of a dance held by
the window.

As the last door is locked and I dump out the bucket of mop water,
I begin to wonder why
so much human happiness is always made as if it’d never been
and every night like this always ends with
dirty water flowing
down the

Thomas Sims holds a B.S. in Biology from the Templeton Honors College at Eastern University. He currently teaches sixth grade science and eleventh grade philosophy/literature in Chandler, Arizona. His work has been featured by “Beyond Words,” “An Unexpected Journal,” “In Parenthesis,” and “The GGP Collective.”