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.

Angry men. 
Spiteful 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. 
Heads turn 
Men turn 
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.
Look up

Stare at me.

You see, 
Cheap bars in this city 
Are meant for fervent love stories, 
And here you go starting one.