Like a young Tom Waits, he leant against the bar
and knocked back two fingers of whiskey
losing himself in the barmaid’s kohl-rimmed eyes
and the melancholic music of her humming.

She huffed on the glassware and shone it
with nonchalant swipes of her dishcloth,
polishing his loneliness. How he ached
to switch stools with the pianist on stage,

looking for her sadness and finding it
in the silences between the songs…
those pauses held him mesmerised until
the world came flooding back in glugs of rye:

was that the ice cubes cracking in his glass,
or just her fingers closing round his heart?


Andy Brown

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