The Corner Bar

I love telling stories of my  favorite corner bar.( My poem “Corner Bar” follows below)  And I love listening to others tell theirs.  On the Morning Media Menu today, author and New York Times Magazine ”Drink” columnist Rosie Schaap talked about her new memoir, Drinking With Men. The book shows how bars have helped shape her personal and creative life. She also shared tips for pitching This American Life.

Here’s an excerpt: ”What I love about bars is that they are places where people talk to one another and tell people stories. There is a kind of openness and exchange of stories in bars. Everyone is relaxed. You go to a bar not to get dressed up, not to have a really fancy night out on the town. You go to the bar to be relaxed and to be yourself. I think that really facilitates great storytelling among regulars. That’s really what we do at bars, we tell each other our stories.”

She concluded: “But you can tell (whether you are writing a story or telling your friends in the bar a story), whether the story is working or not. Sometimes the story you tell in a is going to fall flat. I think in a way, bars are a great place to hone your storytelling skills. Is this making my fellow bar-goers interested in hearing the rest of the story? Am I going into too much detail? Am I not giving enough detail? Bars are great laboratories for storytelling.”

Here’s my bar story.  Hope you can barely relate…for your sake.  Enjoy!

CORNER BAR

dive bar

It always felt familiar and safe;
not like home, but filled with that same tragic scent
of failure, futility, and confusion.
In this darkened chapel, night after night,
we feigned brotherhood, but watched our backs.
We found religion in tall tales
and twisted notes floating softly from the jukebox.
The enormity of the lies exchanged was staggering,
yet not once was truth demanded.

Here, we worshiped and blessed ourselves
at the mahogany and brass altar of amber absolution,
our sins washed in a flood of cheap whiskey and stale beer.
Our bottles filled the night with dead words, hungry ashtrays,
and all these incessant “maybes”
while shameless calls for “another!” filled the tepid air.

We licked the back of our teeth
and bought rounds for the prostitute sitting there all alone,
hunched over to entice our drunken libidos.
We adored her, this faded Madonna,
with her chipped teeth and sagging breasts,
reeking of a stale alcohol and tragic perfume.
Where once there had been beauty and life
some bastard had beaten it out of her;
taking everything that made a woman good and reduced her to this.
Our prayers were answered
in the way this whore swallowed you whole
in the back room’s secret confessional
where you keep her words tightly knit
in the dark corners of your heart.

This was the flip-side of our saintly home-lives;
our souls consumed in the repetition of it all.
We whispered our hallelujahs as the clock struck two;
last call and a slow retreat into the shameless shadows of wretched existence,
as God soundly closed the doors behind us.

 

Heart and Soul

The heart beats strong for what it will
Yet still I seek to master
My thoughts within or outward spilled
Inviting sure disaster
The love I seek, or hope to keep
Isn’t mine to choose
The sweet delights and dreamy nights
Are only mine to lose
Our soul is but an open door
Through which flows passion’s fire
Though oft’ ignored, it stands much more
The beacon of my desire
The heart bestows on those who know
That love is never what it seems
The arrows flung from Cupids bow
Pierce the few and far between
Be still the beating of your heart
And to this verse stay true
The heart and soul both play a part
In bringing love to you

Echoes Across Time

Image

Love never dies…it echoes across time.

It is like a circle revolving with no beginning, no end. The pains of love diminishing as it journeys to the far side of the circle is real and deep…but remember the joy before the pain and listen for the echo.

Love has no dimension, yet it clearly defines all that it touches. It fills you up and leaves you empty all at the same time. Memories are the images carved as love passes along  our side of the circle; life’s subtle reminder to hold on and listen as love echoes across time.

Cast your ear to yesterday’s wind, if you must; do not be too surprised when the sounds you seek reach back to you from tomorrow. Echoes bounce in time and space, for that is their nature – but they must return, for that is their truth.

The circle cannot be denied.

Love cannot die…it echoes across time.

 

Sadness: The Emotion of Separation from God

Sadness is perhaps our most profound reminder of our separateness from God.

Of all the noble human emotions, nothing illustrates better the chasm that exists between man and his Creator. If we reflect upon the causation of sadness, whether it be loss or feelings of intense separation, we cannot but be reminded of the limitedness of man in relation to the boundless love and healing grace of God. Nothing reminds us more of our ineptitude and failing than our powerlessness to stave off sadness, both in ourselves and in others, and nothing stands in starker contrast to His infinite goodness than our painful descent into continual despair and sadness.

The God we know basks in the eternal ether of all things possible, while man struggles to tread water and survive in an ocean of his own failings. While it is true that we possess the capacity to empathize, and even to a minor extent, to comfort…we do not, nor will we ever, have mastery over the prevention or mitigation of this painful human frailty. We cannot prevent others from causing grief and sadness, and worse yet, neither can we prevent ourselves from inflicting it, despite our best intentions. We can pray for the promise of healing, but we cannot prevent in the first place the tendency to cause.

Even in our closest union with God, we lack the power or the insight of pure love. We condition our compassion upon a human factoring of suffering…and in doing so, we continually miss the mark. In our most benevolent, the best we can do is provide the afflicted with compassion and understanding. We cannot remove the cause nor can we fully ameliorate the effect. In fact, because the closest we can come is to empathize, we often find ourselves likewise “saddened” even as we reach out to staunch to suffering of others.

Jesus, in his human manifestation, experienced and fully understood the debilitation of sadness. His temporal separation from the Father and ensuing grief was clearly manifest in the Garden of Gethsemane as in the deepest throes of isolation and sadness he called out for Peter to “stay with me this dark hour,” a request even his most loving apostle could not accord. Later, upon the cross, the experience of sadness and separation from God most closely reflected our own as he cried out, “My God, why hath thou forsaken me?” His weakness mirrored our own; his sadness a reflection of our own separation from God.