Closing Time

In the gentle glow of beer signs and cigarettes,
glint from slide guitar, sudden flare of match,
spark off silver belt buckle and whiskey bottle,
everyone looks softer, more beautiful

than when they came in. Faces warmed by amber
liquid, slivers of red and green neon trickle
through an opening door, as a trout leaps
from roof sign to bar stained with last calls.

In the long mirror, reflections of smudged mascara,
crooked smiles trying too hard. A man in cowboy shirt
crisp from the box sits next to the mechanic
with grease tattoos, together they watch the women

with big hair, teased and sprayed to a volume
that rivals the music, circle the dance floor in search
of a final round. The band plays Buck and Waylon,
all regret and redemption, a sentiment almost

worth the going home. Down Chester Avenue,
the night shift settles in at the Chevron Refinery,
truckers pull off Highway 99, turning into
the Friendly Cafe for one more cup.

Trout’s door swings wide and you’re invited,
welcomed inside for that last hour
of unfolding when love or pure luck – call it
what you will – can strike the weakest line.