The Grotto Bar
Dark in the night.
A quiet street.
A neon light proclaiming the bar is still open.
You go in.
It is familiar.
No matter that you have never been here before.
It is the atmosphere,
dim lights, a jukebox, cigarette smoke,
the smell of spilled beer
and the strange anonymity,
as if everyone there is too tired,
too beaten down to care
if someone new was in their midst.
A brief glance up, and only that.
Not the first hint of real interest.
Such places are no longer your haunt.
You were young when they were.
You still had hair. You lacked wrinkles
but it was the same thing that drew you,
the strange anonymity,
a place to be seen and not seen,
to become part of the decor,
strangely safe, unware of the tinny music
as anything but noise.
a single bourbon bought you the night.
A waste of time? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
There is something to be said
for being alone/not alone
in a world that bears such pain, such struggle
without enough answers.
You don’t stay long.
It was curiosity that brought you here,
not in the place, but in yourself,
a chance to see what from your past resonated
and what did not.
You look. You listen, aware only now
how lost you once were
and how slow the saving has come.
You say a prayer for the lost,
not just here, but everywhere.
You finish your drink and leave,
the music fading as the door closes behind you.
Life is a search party
for a version of yourself you do not know yet,
and in an honest search, you look everywhere
until a path begins to show itself,
or you simply choose one and see it through.
You walk through the town, towards home.
A quiet place with lights and love
and far more peace than you ever believed
you would find.
Grateful for the journey so far,
wondering where it will lead
About this poem.
Mostly lies, except the last stanza. I never was much of a barfly. But I do value that strange anonymity that bars and diners offer. It is comfortable to an introvert like me.
And I am grateful for the journey, past present and future. Even the bad parts, which inevitably lead to something unimaginable and good, despite myself.
The picture was taken in Provincetown, Mass, at the tip of Cape Cod. One of my favorite places. ( The town, not the bar.)