"The Dive" - Jeremy Reed
You go head forward, down
through a curtain of smoke and haze,
until the light narrows out behind you. Deep
into the artificial light of the bar; flies
rustle as you approach, ruined old heads turn, then all of you together settle into place.
They with their Luckies, you with your Pall Malls.
These barflies. You believe in them.
They who have nothing to offer,
and no aspirations,
have no reason to steal from you.
They have ruined themselves to the point of sainthood.
When the dark door creaks open, a soul leaves. But we stay.
We're on a ship that went down years ago.
No one is in love here, they
never heard of it, and no story about it is credible.
Or even interesting.
Its absence doesn't feel like absence.
The mechanics are simple.
There are the taps, there is the tv.
Sometimes a clock to look at now and then.
There is the bar, the chairs, the carpet.
Smoke rising and rising.
"The Dive" is from Reed's first collection of poetry, Furniture, published in May 2015. His first novel is due out in 2017.
Photo: Cobweb Hall Bar, Duane Street, Tribeca, c1905. Photo by George B. Ritter. From The Old New York page on Facebook: "Demolished 1919 photo says. Looks like a dive bar for the ages."