Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Closing the Castaway Bar (1988)

Oh fuck it all, he sighs, and so cuts his sleek black
car through the night. It's cool inside. Nothing intrudes.
Instruments on the dash glow green their phosphor
ghosting his hands. The radio plays old songs.
Miles of road thread back into the corrupt interior.

Home is behind, a throttle of malls and
the ceaseless traffic of broken things.
A battered rondo of bars and bottle clubs.
He flees for the ocean like some latter-day Jonah,
scheming rebirth in the pink cerulean surf of morning.

He enters the beachside town. Streetlights approach
and fan over the windshield. Lowering the window:
the ocean night crowds in warm and briny gusts.
The street deadends at a bar called The Castaway.
Yards away surf wrestles the shore. The bar is decorated

with fishing nets and sweet curving conch shells.
He finds an empty stool next to a battered bar.
The barmaid takes a shine to him and buys him shots
of tequila. The gold fangs pierce, glow. He talks
openly with her as he does when drink and sex coil
his heart late at night. Nice ocean haul, he thinks.
Of course, any mermaid will do. Must do.

The hours dissolve darkly to closing time. He finds himself
laying on a table close to the surf. Muscular breezes work
the naked beach. A zipper of silver paves black water
to a zenith moon. He remembers the barmaid and the bruise
on his cheek. Gulls slide overhead like beggar angels.

Is this night the belly of the whale? Even in his stupor,
he’s sure it is. The poor beast lurches and rolls,
swims shitfaced, nauseated utterly by him. What did
he expect? He's the worm at the bottom of every
bottle. He sighs wearily. Same guts, different bar.

The ocean sings to him in wind and surf like
a mother's soft birthday song. Rising out of nothing's breakers.
He feels he should join in, too, sing back brokenly and
tearful, but his tongue is like whale fat. Doesn't matter, though,
because the sea isn't singing for him, any way, nor nor for the

locked door of the bar, not for the gull that’s crapped on his chin,
nor the hard breezy night. Not for the all world's dark shore.
But will our hero ever learn? What? is his last thought there on the
table, lulled by the boneless choir of the sea. Fade to black
as our hero descends the welcoming gullet.


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