Sure, you’ve heard the story of the man who walks
into a bar and… move that man north by northeast
to a Canadian peninsula, a pristine seaside village,
bring the focus in a little closer: a long bar, stools
filled with fishermen, laborers, the local workers
who keep this seaside resort prosperous then add
a few tables with straight-backed wooden chairs,
no frills, simple food, that long bar with regulars
bellied-up and in walks a stranger: tall, very lean,
shock of bright blonde hair, crisp blue linen shirt,
just one of 24 Hong Kong made in various hues,
over tan slacks pressed neatly in a perfect crease,
wearing a pair of lamb suede moccasins, custom
design by Mantellassi in Italy. He casually walks
past the bar to a small wooden table, sits and opens
a briefcase filled with swatches of fabric. The men
at the bar turn as one then back to their glasses. One
stout lobsterman at the end of the bar murmurs just
loud enough, must be the new owner of the Pansy Inn.
The line of drinkers chuckle all the way down spilling
their humor into the wind settling on the occupied table.
The tall, very lean man with a shock of blonde hair rights
himself and walks up to the bartender, set up a round from
the pansy of the Pansy Inn and that’s how the story begins…
A small moment
Local historians of the Beat years celebrate his last drink
at The Flamingo in Saint Pete a few blocks
from his home where he drank when he wasn’t drinking in Tampa.
In the late sixties, I was in Tampa
at the Wild Boar drinking
in early morning light
after a night
of meth and more beers,
neck starting that dull ache,
three of us at a small table
when I saw this older guy at the bar—
red flannel shirt, baggy pants,
unkempt thick black hair.
I knew it was him.
I’d read all of his books,
held onto a fantasy that someday
we’d sit in a sleazy bar,
talk about writing—
stream of consciousness prose—
all those roads
he took to all those exotic locales.
I looked at my buddies,
smiled and said “I’ll be right back,”
went to the head to take a leak,
to compose a cool opening line.
As I walked toward the bar,
the door swung shut.
Marc Swan recently left the regular work-a-day to focus on writing, travel and music, not necessarily in that order; poems out this year in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, The Binnacle, Garbanzo, Nerve Cowboy and The Echo Room, among others.