The Bar, At the End of The Street

When he drank, 
he drank deep,
at the bar at the end of the street.

The bar
was his church. 

His visits,
as regular as a Priest attending
Mass. 

At Mothers urging,
I enter Father’s sacred place to seek him out
and collect what remains
of his check. 

Inside the bar, 
the hymns from the jukebox are hypnotic,
and from ashtray alters, the sacrificial smoke of tobacco
ascends to heaven.

From the center of the sanctuary,
comes the clatter of pool cues
and the clack of ivory thunder
as pool balls collide,
a reminder,
it’s not really a church at all,
just a noisy bar. 

The bartender, a high priest
who presides over his flock. 

He provides  the amber blood
of a different kind of savior, 
and collects the offering, the unaffordable tithe,
that once belonged to children 
and the landlord. 

I interrupt Fathers worship,
rob him of his devotion,
plead for his indulgence 
and convey Mother’s supplication. 

With the reluctance of an impenitent heart
he hands me  what remains of his
check
and sends me away. 

Afterwards,
he ambles home. 

The next day,
he prays to another God.
Forgiveness, to quiet his guilt of consequence.
Absolution
for the bruises laid upon his wife,
and he craves a penance,
for his sin
of disregard. 

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