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the old man tips
his hat, a fresh-blocked
and brushed fedora,
to the whore at the end
of the bar, gives
the bartender a wink
as he carefully drapes
his coat over a chair,
lays his hat atop it
and bellies up
for a scotch, buys
us all a round
before getting down
to business

his suit is crumpled
but the tie is straight,
collar worn but crisply
pressed, frail hands
grasp at the tumbler,
rattle the ice for another
roll, another chance
to prove his gallantry,
his nonchalance, to
let us know he’s still
a gentleman,
no run-of-the-mill
drunk like
the rest of us

he pulls out dollars
all wrinkled and wadded,
then the change
meticulously counted,
where he gets it
no one knows
and nobody cares
so long as he’s buying
’cause it all spends
the same
and even better
since it’s his

after three or four
more the bartender
quietly makes a call,
serves the old man
one more, tall,
no rocks, no chaser
and we wait
for the small woman
who will come
to claim him, say
“Dad… where’s your hat?
it’s time to go home”

©2013, Sean Fulkerson. All rights reserved.

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