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Confessions at the Bar

Crucifixes and statues of the saints
have not miraculously replaced neon
icons of Budweiser, Fat Tire, Smirnoff.
Votaries remain dance ball lights and
embers flickering through a smoky melange
of sweat, perfume, pool cue chalk, beer, 
the bartender's guide to exotic drinks.
Supplications heard in bad pick up lines 
might qualify as prayers among snatches 
of actual conversation; laughs and tears 
abruptly surface from the streaming babble
as if members of this congregation had found
charismatic revelation or hit the bingo.
So why the hell on this Saturday night 
am I listening to Suzanne--call me Suze--
pour out tears and sneers about some guy 
who dumped her six or eight months ago? 
She's neither friend nor lover, not even
someone with whom to sweat away a few 
hours disregarding Sunday School lessons.
(Her confession's invocation included 
a liturgy of turn-ons, commandments 
I violate all except gender and hair.)
An answer seems to lurk in dark mirrors
of eyes which by morning may be turned
toward heaven or strange ceiling tiles.
Beyond sacred duties, sacrilegious schemes,
there's a special touch of the numinous,
of the tie truly binding us--yeah, you, me,
Suze and whomever--only to be felt when 
giving a damn just for the hell of it.
I watch Suze's eyes as her words fade;
they seem fixed across the room where
Mister, if not Right, then Here & Now
smiles back at her; she glances at me
with what seems gratitude as I excuse
myself to make a pitstop and ease away.
I silently wish them well in whatever
encounter they'll have and wonder if,
while reading the wall, priests ever
feel the need to piss like a horse.

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