Kookaburra

Kookaburra sits in a run-down bar,

Losing track of all the drinks he’s had so far.

Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh.

Kookaburra knows he wrecked her heart.

 

I said I’d never come back,

Which is probably why I’m here:

Atlanta, Georgia, center stool

At a pockmarked bar the color of caramel,

Someone’s cigarette fingering my nostrils.

 

The glass stares back at me, empty again—

Or none-full, if you’re an optimist—

As Tom Waits groans “Hang On St. Christopher”

Through a raspy speaker in the corner

Hanging by a gnawed wire.

 

My skull dips for a moment,

Slipping beneath a rogue wave—

A tap on my shoulder with bass-drum kick

Constricts my heart as I turn to see

Her with another bird on her arm.

 

Calloused knuckles on the back of my head.

“You’re drooling on my bar, Sunshine.”

My forehead pops out of the glass,

Leaving a rose-red kiss.  “Another”

Crawls out of my lips, plops onto the tile floor.

 

“That was number—” the room spins—

“You sure that’s a good idea?”

I laugh and choke on my spit,

Recover, look her in the eye:

“I’m not known for those.”

 

She frowns, fills my glass with water,

Clear, cool, calm.  I swat it off the bar,

Let it bleed on the floor.  “Dammit!” I cried

As she sighed and turned her glass eye on me,

The other gone to greet a newcomer.

 

“You know I won’t drink that,” said I to the eye,

And she filled a new glass with the darkest brew yet—

The color the bar might have been on opening day.

It sears my throat in its wake, pulls my head down to listen:

“Hang on, Saint Christopher; don’t let me go.”