Here I stand in a cheap bar.
In a city where cheap bars aren’t romanticized,
There are no teak wood tables
Reciprocal linings left by forgotten beer glasses on coasters
Or heady conversations with strangers
Unfolding in front of an insightful barman.
Instead, in this city,
Cheap bars are someone’s guilty pleasure.
There’s moisture in the air
And music that you wouldn’t listen to
Because your privilege would revolt against it.
Alcohol that’s easy to pour
Screams not conversations
Profanity for catharsis,
And oh so many men.
Anxious, ashamed, happy and confident men.
Men who beat their wives
Men who get beaten up.
Men with half opened shirts
Balding and pot-bellied Strong wristed and golden watched
Men who cry after being drunk
And men who can never be drunk,
Not for the lack of trying.
And in the midst of that masculine jungle,
I see you sipping on cheap vodka
Sitting next to someone who keeps staring at you
Like you were surreal.
In a place where women are meant to be moving
With the unrhythm of hastily made sounds
Masquerading as music,
You sit in quiet resilience.
You aren’t really pretty for me.
You don’t stand out even in the midst of a handful of women.
In a carnival of easily aroused crowd
No one stares at you but your partner
No one is in awe but him.
And he quietly takes your hand and holds it
As you smile.
When you smile, I can feel the warmth of his face
Flashing out of his pores As you are lost in each other.
Charles Bukowsky’s wet dream this.
He would stand there and quickly take his diary out
Dedicate a few explicit lines to your intimacy
And in between sips of Bourbon,
He would recite them to a stranger
In return of a casual fuck.
After a while, you come close to his face
Peck him on his lips once
And then you kiss.
Looks are exchanged
And you make angry men blush.
You see cheap bars in this city
Aren’t meant for fervent love stories
They are for cathartic displays of joy
To the music of economic have-nots
Before they go back to their misinformed lives
Protected under the garb of insignificance
You get up with him
Holding hands you walk towards the main door.
You kiss once more as he gently holds you by your waist
Sprinkling sensuality on the face of loud erotica
He takes a strand of your hair and takes its whiff
And you melt under his embrace.
One last kiss on the lips, and he leaves.
You stare at your lover longingly
A little heart breaks somewhere
Perhaps warmed by the possibility of meeting again
But at that point, and at that moment,
It breaks all the same.
You come back to your seat.
And make patterns on your glass
Still chilled out of the melting ice
That hydrates your cheap vodka.
You finish your drink.
Stare at me.
Cheap bars in this city
Are meant for fervent love stories,
And here you go starting one.