Inside, a child-like pole dancer

practices in the light three o’clock crowd.

 

I order my customary beer and a shot,

get my change in singles.

 

The air weighs heavy

with dust in the dim light,

 

the odor of broken glass

and failed dreams—

 

dancers and drinkers all.

 

The bartender’s son

does homework in a corner,

 

hidden from the girls

and the occasional inspector.

 

But it’s Thursday, they usually

come by on Tuesdays

 

on their way to somewhere else.

 

This back road,

just a dotted line on the map,

 

a water tower with a town name

and a high school football team

 

not even in a league anymore.

 

The bar has a misspelled sign

in a dirty parking lot,

 

so used-up

there aren’t even fights here

 

on drunken Friday nights,

just slumped shoulders

 

and wet-glass rings

around the edge of the stage.

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