Sometimes what you need is a road
house, blast of laughter and warm air pouring
out the door, where the waitresses know
your name but the customers don't, shrill
on the third martini or fifth Blue Ribbon,
steaks searing on a huge propane-fired grill.
Two birthday parties in full swing—
mylar balloons leashed to a chair-back slowly
turning—tonight you're a few years shy
the median age, at your back-wall table drinking
iced tea because you don't spend time with
the person you turn into after a frosted glass:
chardonnay, dark rum & tonic, you remember
her well, that girl, that woman, with great
compassion: her loneliness behind the amber
liquid disappeared, or seemed to, she got funny
and affectionate, softer, sexually daring but
not a femme fatale, always more honey
than darling, her courage long-gone by morning,
that terrible waking into a stranger's sheets.
You don't miss any of it. Headaches, longing
that's miles easier to bear when sober,
wishing a friend would come along and love you,
even though you're just getting older.
Some nights you need a road house, boisterous
laughter and warm air pouring through open
doors, the kind of place where your choice
is simple: well-done, bloody, or medium rare,
and no one gives a shit that you're by yourself,
writing in a notebook. Nobody turns to stare.