Next Door Café: The Poem Google Map
A poem "with cautious, slightly energy-sapped enjambments" recreates a bar's atmosphere and patrons. Carmine Starnino reflects on the inspiration for the poem and his own writing process in "Next Door Café: A Poet's Musings."
NEXT DOOR CAFÉ
We were bored, so we stayed. The days knocked deep into other days. A glacialness set in, and life kept pace with the dried fruit in the jar. Brushed steel gave back our pissed-off bits, our doubled selves so drained of disguise we forgot where it was we were hoping to go, holed up all summer in a corner so dark you’d half expect bison chalked on a cave-face every time we cadged a light. It was the kind of place where morning fell for everyone but harder for some, where bad decisions were lived counter-clockwise, and endlessly refitted to finish up flush, where afternoons were a gradual squander of sobriety, shot glasses lamped with whisky on cue and empties were the crags of a quandary drunkenness clung to. Tables where, outside the shrieking reach of the talkers, can’t-sleeps stayed and night-shifters cooled heels attended by soul-tools: cellphone, lighter, cigarette. Nights of middle-aged men enduring middle-aged men in their cups, buying rounds, half-cusped on high stools. Sun-up found a few run aground, upshouldered hulls, while our own lives were an endless keel-scrape where the pluperfect errand was the errand always deferred. A kind of time travel, I guess. We sat back and watched the future screen its clichés of us: those besuited and briefcased, with their died-and-gone-to-heaven whistle when handed a pint; those done-to-a-turn divorcees in duffle coat and boots (wine-sipping casualties of the wife wars); those who, smashed, stand too suddenly slewing into you, and those who, if you join, you join uninvited.