Two martinis in, then three
as you split a sundae with Joe the bartender
waiting for the cigarette girl to
"come 'round again, babydoll. I need ya,"
twirling a toothpick
and winking like a pro.

You touch her cheek and light up
as the band picks up again.
Waiting for the crest,
you snap along and lean in close.
Riding it, coast-side and eighty flat.

It sweetens if you wait for it.

As you wait you drown a little
feel your lungs fill with the
baritone's pressure and with
all the useless feelings you
checked with your hat and coat.

And the horns come in and melt you
right there at the bar, all set to be
mopped up with the cigarette ash and
gentlemen's calling cards
when the chairs hit the tables

"Helluva night, Joe. It's a helluva night."
"You haven't touched your sundae, friend."
"I'm high a lot, Joe. I forget things."

You like it shaken, I'll give it to you stirred.
Peanut shells, crumpled napkins
with chicken scratch thrown out
like the not-so-good intentions of the bachelor crowd.

Battalions of double-breasted rotten egg drunks
sway and bop with the bada-bing,
"Son, you've had enough."
She slinks to the bathroom to powder her nose
with the bandstand man

She's a time-bomb of Chanel No. 5 in a Cadillac,
and she makes me slide
like pomade slick and wingtips stitched with spice
and destruction.
The cymbals ching and the high-hats ride the
tenor sax. Pour me something heavy.
Gimme a light.

I don't believe in angels since this cat
lost his swing, drowning in claret lips and
unfamiliar sobriety. The diva she wails
"Talk to me, baby. Tell me your sin."

But I've never been much for small talk in the dark
when the air's made of smoke and the red lights
flicker for your last call
The mink dames have already made up their minds.

It's been years, and I haven't touched flesh
or my drink. Ashes flick.
I lie a lot, friend. I regret things.

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