At the bar they gleam, lips breathe
into an ear, a hand finds a thigh.
In what dark can we live,
except jazz bars and your pub,
with sea shanty farewells
and rebel songs—their fiddles
and upbeat gore, their hope,
betrayed, fulfilled, comingled?
Maybe in beds, in the grasp
of strangers made lovers or old
lovers made strange. How
to make it, this smoke-filled
portal to Dublin or New Orleans—
to make it last one more breath,
a chorus, a measure? I need
thirty-two bar solos, ballad
after reel, women rising to dance,
"A Night in Tunisia" with Blakey's solo.
Give me always slow leave-
taking and the pulsing night.