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More poems by Vernon ScannellVernon Scannell | Print this page.Print | View and Write CommentsComments | Books by Vernon ScannellBooks by Vernon Scannell

Death In The Lounge Bar

Vernon Scannell

The bar he went inside was not 
A place he often visited; 
He welcomed anonymity; 
No one to switch inquisitive 
Receivers on, no one could see, 
Or wanted to, exactly what 
He was, or had been, or would be; 
A quiet brown place, a place to drink 
And let thought simmer like good stock, 
No mirrors to distract, no fat 
And calculating face of clock, 
A good calm place to sip and think. 
If anybody noticed that 
He was even there they'd see 
A fairly tall and slender man, 
Fair-haired, blue-eyed, and handsome in 
A manner strictly masculine. 
They would not know, or want to know, 
More than what they saw of him, 
Nor would they wish to bug the bone 
Walls of skull and listen in 
To whatever whisperings 
Pittered quietly in that dark: 
An excellent place to sip your gin. 
Then---sting of interruption! voice 
Pierced the private walls and shook 
His thoughtful calm with delicate shock. 
A waiter, with white napkin face 
And shining toe-cap hair, excused 
The oiled intrusion, asking if 
His name was what indeed it was. 
In that case he was wanted on 
The telephone the customers used, 
The one next to the Gents. He went. 
Inside the secretive warm box 
He heard his wife's voice, strangled by 
Distance, darkness, coils of wire, 
But unmistakably her voice, 
Asking why he was so late, 
Why did he humiliate 
Her in every way he could, 
Make her life so hard to face? 
She'd telephoned most bars in town 
Before she'd finally tracked him down. 
He said that he'd been working late 
And slipped in for a quick one on 
His weary journey home. He'd come 
Back at once. Right now. Toot sweet. 
No, not another drop. Not one. 
Back in the bar, he drank his gin 
And ordered just one more, the last. 
And just as well: his peace had gone; 
The place no longer welcomed him. 
He saw the waiter moving past, 
That pale ambassador of gloom, 
And called him over, asked him how 
He had known which customer 
To summon to the telephone. 
The waiter said, 'Your wife described 
You, sir. I knew you instantly.' 
'And how did she describe me, then, 
That I'm so easily recognized?' 
'She said: grey suit, cream shirt, blue tie, 
That you were fairly tall, red-faced, 
Stout, middle-aged, and going bald.' 
Disbelief cried once and sat 
Bolt upright, then it fell back dead. 
'Stout middle-aged and going bald.' 
The slender ghost with golden hair 
Watched him go into the cold 
Dark outside, heard his slow tread 
Fade towards wife, armchair, and bed.

Submitted by Andrew Mayers

Added: 21 Jul 2002 | Last Read: 17 Feb 2019 10:45 AM | Viewed: 4917 times

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URL: http://plagiarist.com/poetry/5660/ | Viewed on 17 February 2019.
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