When Men Bow Down

by R. Nemo Hill

When men bow down to sip their drinks
their all-night neon halos tip,
casting shadows as they slip
across pale brows that slowly sink
and drown together, drip by drip,
what each man feels, what each man thinks,
when men bow down to sip their drinks.

When men bow down to sip their drinks
in dimmed down day or midnight’s glare,
in common rows or solitaire,
in a silence startled by the clink
of ice on glass — as if in prayer,
their eyes close and their focus shrinks
when men bow down to sip their drinks.

When men bow down to sip their drinks
with shoulders hunched, with jaws grown slack —
draped across each turned, bent back
the world’s abandoned at the brink
of their immobile zodiac,
their cloud of mingled breath which stinks
as men bow down to sip their drinks.

When men bow down to sip their drinks
the rhythmic round of hand to lip
grows metronomic, each man’s grip
preserves his final failing link
to time —. Of passing moments stripped,
the present stares, the future blinks,
when men bow down to sip their drinks.

(Dick’s Bar, 1992-2007—New York City)

“When Men Bow Down” previously appeared in The Chimaera.


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