Death In The Lounge Bar

 The bar he went inside was not 
A place he often visited; 
He welcomed anonymity; 
No one to switch inquisitive 
Receivers on, no one could see, 
Or wanted to, exactly what 
He was, or had been, or would be; 
A quiet brown place, a place to drink 
And let thought simmer like good stock, 
No mirrors to distract, no fat 
And calculating face of clock, 
A good calm place to sip and think.
If anybody noticed that He was even there they'd see A fairly tall and slender man, Fair-haired, blue-eyed, and handsome in A manner strictly masculine.
They would not know, or want to know, More than what they saw of him, Nor would they wish to bug the bone Walls of skull and listen in To whatever whisperings Pittered quietly in that dark: An excellent place to sip your gin.
Then---sting of interruption! voice Pierced the private walls and shook His thoughtful calm with delicate shock.
A waiter, with white napkin face And shining toe-cap hair, excused The oiled intrusion, asking if His name was what indeed it was.
In that case he was wanted on The telephone the customers used, The one next to the Gents.
He went.
Inside the secretive warm box He heard his wife's voice, strangled by Distance, darkness, coils of wire, But unmistakably her voice, Asking why he was so late, Why did he humiliate Her in every way he could, Make her life so hard to face? She'd telephoned most bars in town Before she'd finally tracked him down.
He said that he'd been working late And slipped in for a quick one on His weary journey home.
He'd come Back at once.
Right now.
Toot sweet.
No, not another drop.
Not one.
Back in the bar, he drank his gin And ordered just one more, the last.
And just as well: his peace had gone; The place no longer welcomed him.
He saw the waiter moving past, That pale ambassador of gloom, And called him over, asked him how He had known which customer To summon to the telephone.
The waiter said, 'Your wife described You, sir.
I knew you instantly.
' 'And how did she describe me, then, That I'm so easily recognized?' 'She said: grey suit, cream shirt, blue tie, That you were fairly tall, red-faced, Stout, middle-aged, and going bald.
' Disbelief cried once and sat Bolt upright, then it fell back dead.
'Stout middle-aged and going bald.
' The slender ghost with golden hair Watched him go into the cold Dark outside, heard his slow tread Fade towards wife, armchair, and bed.

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