I drift into the bar as if lost,
and in some ways I am. It’s been four years
since I’ve been here. Renovations have
made it a less seedy place to down a Jack
and Coke. There are now colored globes
at intermittent spots on the bar dim enough
to add a layer of youth to someone facing
them. Two middle-age very loquacious
men lounge six seats from me to the right.
Otherwise, I’m the only other person there
besides the bartender. Behind the bar is
the proverbial mirror in which I see an
elderly man holding hands with memory.

I turn my head to the left and see a raised
platform where you danced the night we
met. It feels as if I have brought a mental
net in which to catch and drag home bits
and pieces of the past, to prove to myself
that I didn’t just imagine the whole toxic
relationship in which I pronounced you
the love of my life.

It is only ten ‘o clock,
but there is no sense in hanging around
to see who comes in next because I’m
not here for someone new. I’m here
because the heaviness of being alone
sometimes gets to be too much to bear,
and because I want to see who I am
without you. One Jack and Coke is enough
time to tell me that I am whipping myself
with sadness for no good reason.
It was within these walls that I put our
lives together by mistake.

R. Nikolas Macioci earned a PhD from The Ohio State University. The Ohio Council of Teachers of English, named Nik Macioci the best secondary English teacher in the state of Ohio. Nik is the author of two chapbooks as well as six books: More than two hundred of his poems have been published internationally.