Poetry

Next Door Café: The Poem

CARMINE STARNINO

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.

Tags
No items found.

CARMINE STARNINO

Carmine Starnino has published five collections of poetry and has received numerous awards, including the CAA Prize for Poetry, the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry and the F.G. Bressani Prize. He lives in Montréal.


SUGGESTIONS FOR YOU

Poetry
STEVIE HOWELL

Barriers

Canmore is carved out for war destroyers, celebrities and Cool Runnings in Stevie Howell's poem from Geist's latest issue.

Poetry
GREG SANTOS

Thinking About Moose

A rolling moose gathers no moss.

Poetry
HENRY DOYLE

Killing me the rest of the way

"'Drink up, Joe. Hell is closed.' / laughing out the side of his mouth / Killing me the rest of the way."