Old 10-07-2003, 02:51 PM   #1
darkmaas
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Post 12 Bar Blues

I know. We’ve had a lot of blues threads around here lately, but this particular thread isn’t really about the blues.

Nope, this thread is about bars. Twelve bars.

When dmaas was younger, we played a game called “Twelve Bar Blues”, which was all about bars and and only marginally about the blues. The object was to start in the late afternoon and “saunter” from bar to bar, (at least one drink per establishment, but who counts?) until the saunter became a crawl and the magic dozen bars was reached. Tradition held that the last bar was the The Royal Tap Room, but traditions are ephemeral and those, in say, Manhattan or Paris might be hard pressed to find The Royal.

The goal of this thread, then, is to recreate the “12 Bar Blues” in poetry. I’ll start off with a perennial favourite (sadly now demolished). Subsequent poetic posters will select their favourite bar (present, past or imaginary) and add it to the crawl. Your bar need not feature the blues, but drinking to music sorta sets the tone of a place. If you feel comfortable in a previous bar, then feel free to riff on someone else’s bar, which is to say, take the last line of the previous bar and “order another round”. It is an honour to have one’s bar reprised in a different key.

The thread closes after twelve bars. As we get closer to the magic dozen, it is acceptable to slurr your rhymes use alternate spellings.

Most of you know a bar. (I’m lookin’ at you Fool!) The only one who might claim an exemption is Xtaabay who once remarked that she had only ever entered a bar to drag someone out. (Besides, she’s out of harm’s way in Mexico). Rybka, for instance, by his own admission, used to watch olives float, eyeball to eyeball, in jugs of draft beer. No Excuses.

So raise your glasses and follow me....
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Old 10-07-2003, 02:53 PM   #2
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The Wagon Wheel

Music was supplied
most nights
by Ron and Esther.

Ron worked
the liquor store by day
but in the evening
wailed steel guitar
and sang his
sad dog dyin’ songs
as jugs of draft labatt’s and molson’s
slid down lonesome throats.

Tiny Esther
looked old enough
to be Ron’s mother
skin and bones
she played electric bass
and had that hard-eyed look
that said
she’d drive that axe
right up your ass
if you ever crossed her.

Never really welcomed us
we were just passing through
on our way to better spaces
but for a year we settled there
now and then
we bought a round
and though long hair
and faded jeans
clashed with the naugahyde
and string tie set
the geezers liked our skin tight women.
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Old 10-07-2003, 07:09 PM   #3
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The Bird's Nest

Ok. No proof.
No proof but real cute
in a tan suede miniskirt,
lace tee, leather boots.
Long hair then, too,
waist long, and not
a damn clue of sweet 16's
power:

just
never
knew

or I wouldn't be outside,
shucking and smoking
my class-ass jive Dunhills,
a wise little city girl,
trying to trash talk
the bouncer,
who laughs and says no.

I'd be at the bar
with a long frosted glass
of gin, sloe with grenadine,
sweet and big-eyed,
eye-balling the scene.
My Joey, my G's
long-fingered fret runs,
his Hofner, his lady
plays bass backbeat clean.

I'd be with my buds,
my blue-eyed soul
home team bro homies,
drinking and nodding
you sing it, it's true

You are My Pride and Joy,
my best friends, you,
all of you.

In-between sets,
we walk to the river
smoke till silly high,
till Joey sneaks me
through the alley,
the Bird's Nest
back door, and in!

Dancing and laughing
with Barb and someone,
who was it who whispered

James Joyce was a baaad boy

before green eyes stopped me,
took my drink away.

Silly girl watch out
for sloe gin and black light

Goddamn you green eyes!
You never said watch out
for sticky sloe gin sweet kisses
in your green Austin Healy
on Jacob Road Mountain
later that night.
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Old 10-07-2003, 08:04 PM   #4
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The Seven Ringers

A sudden rush of warmth
On a winter’s night.
Wood smoke and laughter,
Seven Ringers’ timbered thatch.

Warm Guinness – what else?
Pickled eggs and Smith’s crisps.

We’d meet there of a night.

Darts were it
In January ‘til
Snooker bit us all.
Then we boasted
Custom cues
And still we lost.

“ ‘Orders please”
The dreaded cry
That made us grab our pints,
Swallowing the last remains
To order doubles
All round.

Oh heady days of carefree drunks
Happily
Non compos mentis.
Staggering home
Giggling at his jokes,
Her singing,
Tomorrow

All good.
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Old 10-07-2003, 08:15 PM   #5
Icingsugar
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South Loft

Crisp, cold, calling
washing the faint fumes
of that brisk walk
from my memory
and my mind is all
golden yellow
full of flowing
filling chilling fancy

This is the waystation
A last break
a short interlude
of tranquil from turmoil
of peace from pulse

Recess and respite
to let the engines
cool off
so that they can run
stronger faster
when we again
soon enough
greedily greet
the beauty the beast
the beat and the turmoil
the tantalizing terror
and engage the afterburner
so that we will be
the dreams
the magic
the gods

The crowd is here
they always are
A burly crowd
walking the blues
just like us
but in a different direction
and closer to that climatic
anticlimax of the magic twelve
counting to every digit
at hand and still not
done for the night
What will they count with next?
Do I even want to know?

A stacatto conversation
floating from across the room

"It's times like these
times like these, I tell you...
Hey! Are you listening?
You know, you know...
Oh, fuck it, never mind!"

never mind

So punctual
so precitable
so just like us

But not like us at all
They are the drunks
We are the gods
And we have the afterburner

Time for ignition
All over again
we get up get out get ready
to face the pulse
the turmoil and the beast
thinking that this time
this time maybe
just maybe
we can master it
the way we've never done
so far
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Stories and poems

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Old 10-07-2003, 10:56 PM   #6
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The Parlour

bawdily rouged
and largely unobscured
Marva White sat on her stool

with theatrical face
and a brassy bass voice
she played us Storyville fools

her tall tales of chaste
and putting man in his place
took us laughing to school

but it was resonance ingressed
into our souls' shallow depths
that she truly used as her tool

to belt, boost and banter us
into returning her graciousness
as this lady sang us her blues
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Old 10-08-2003, 07:04 AM   #7
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Black Bear Blues

Ronno held court with a limp
And hustled drinks with endless jokes spilling
From his thick beefsteak bourbon face-
Some boys laugh and the women cringe.

They got the Last Waltz on the new flat screen
And I remember Dylans painted face and Panama hat,
Me just 20 spilling into the San Francisco night after that
Winterland ballroom night...me the great rememberer.
Little good.

But here ya got Craigy and his harem, barman makin the most of
the occupation, ya got Corey bowing to his boy Trot, theres Frankie with his salamander Egyptian eyes staring at her throat and needing a shower. Skinny Brett blunted from months of Prozac mumbling "your puttin me out of business." Mathmetician Mike countin his change and quiet Matty fondling a sack of buds in his pocket. Daddy Asa chubby faced and happy showing pics of the second kid, so soon and giving away his tremor inside...

A table full of teachers playing a game of Asshole-me smiling at Jae and wishing partly that she wasnt Lesbos archer and hell, she got me smokin cigs again last February- its been months now and I cough-

Airdre saunters thru certified sad and medicated mad-keep your cock in your pants boy and dont look when she flashes the burnscar breasts-Grundy throws her out gently but throws her anyway-

For eight months I stayed out of here until that Valentines night when I just said what the fuck-I guess THESE are my people.

Finally Chezzie floats up the stairs and sits and we dont need to say a word but just give the silent gangsignal of resignation.

"Terence" he says just loud enough, in his best London drawl. "You look handsome tonite."

I laugh and steal one of his smokes. Smalltown jokes like that are
too precious for words. The plexiglass is up around the balcony now, the limegreen lamps make us all look a bit nauseous and out over the river the Harvest moon puts the move on Mars.
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Old 10-08-2003, 06:55 PM   #8
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What a pleasant surprise

The night is still young and already a half dozen bars behind us. And what fine poems they are. The poor old Wagon Wheel is looking a little shabby by now, but fear not. I'm sure the best is yet to come. The Fool has been conspicuous in his absence. He's no doubt hoping to avoid buying a round by jumping in late in the evening and hoping we've lost count.

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Old 10-09-2003, 10:03 AM   #9
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Boardwalk Life

Wildwood is wild,
a honky-tonk wood strip
that sizzles and smells
like fried onions and beer.

It sounds like Bruce there,
like Love to Love you disco,
and oldies cranked blasting
from tiny smoky bars
filled with slick tan bodies
moving over gritty floors.

Here's how it works:

You get yourself a room
at the rooming house
with the other hormones
and a job on the boards.
Maybe you run the Swiss Bob
or the Round-up, maybe
you wait tables at some trap
where the tips suck,
and Chuck the manager
always brushes by
too close with his palms out,
and Lonzo the cook
calls you Stuff.

Hey Stuff! Veal Parm!


He sneaks you shrimps
and bites of steak
because you're young
and cute, and he
hates Chuck, too.

Split shift is best.
It's a no sleep gig,
mostly catch a few
hours on the beach,
while you broil
the afternoons away
between shifts.

Later you hit the bars
in droves with other
summer trash girls
in cutoffs and gold hoops
and young turks
in open shirts.

Then you Turn the Beat
Around and dance
in your hot beach skin,
wailing with the crowd,
long neck in one hand,
and your fist raised.

You pump up the night beat
to local bands full of wiseguy
brooding South Side boys,
tough-eyed, soft-mouthed.

And it's bread and circuses,
music, clink, and laughter,
quieting only when Sharkey
that asshole starts screaming
at his very pregnant teenaged
wife that he wants her
to fucking dance now damnit,
but she cries and you feel sick,
so you leave.

You walk on the sand
barefoot, it smells clean
here where the waves
crash like life contracting,
and the rolls of water
are punctuated by slurps
and sighs of underboard
sex, 4 AM.

It all feels so urgent,
so desparate, this great
suffocating need, and you
know then this is why
we run, this is why
we leave these ticky-tacky
New Jersey towns.

Because the sky is empty,
save for the stars,
but they're as far away
from the crush
of this carnival life
as you yearn to be.
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Old 10-10-2003, 12:44 AM   #10
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Valentinos

I hope that shade of red
looks better on my lips.
I wipe away that lurid stain
from martini's edge.

His smile left a hollow spot
between my ribcage and the gin.

And there I go again.
Careless.
Spilling my gathered thoughts
like so much street-lamp light.

'Round Midnight on badly tuned piano strings
and stool groaning, sounding
more tired than player's fingers.

Even the smoke
has beer breath --
tries crawling
up my skirt.
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Old 10-10-2003, 02:59 PM   #11
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I like these...
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Old 10-10-2003, 05:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
I like these...
I like your poem, as you know. Wanna post more?

And darkmaas, you have the best ideas. This thread is great.
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Old 10-11-2003, 07:10 PM   #13
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tinwhistle

blows blues


fly across my screen-

walks like a gentle man

carefullly

and with purpose.
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Old 10-12-2003, 02:42 AM   #14
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didnt expect to see you
here in the lavender night
with all of us stranded
in the desolate beauty
of the moons bitter light-

a book like a clock
flashing the 12
and the double zero
in the dark fiddlers reel

come sit with me
here in the lavender night
with all of us stranded
in the desolate beauty
of the moons bitter light.
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Old 10-12-2003, 03:07 AM   #15
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misery is the river of the world

everbody row.
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Old 10-12-2003, 04:00 AM   #16
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take the long way home

drive.
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Old 10-12-2003, 04:16 AM   #17
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found a whole


and in you came.
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Old 10-14-2003, 09:58 PM   #18
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Thank You Eagleyes

The quality of your rhyme seems to have had a sobering effect on those gathered in warm conviviality.

A north wind is blowing. Perhaps it's time to shout, "Last call. This round's on Fool!"

<cue the dancing bananas>



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Old 10-20-2003, 08:48 PM   #19
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Them’s hurtin’ words…….

“Meet me there.” He’d said.
“I’ll see you in the breaks.”
“Yes.” I said. “I promise,
no matter what it takes.”

Five buses later and
Dampened to the skin
I found an empty table
And tried to settle in.

The room was hot and stuffy
But the beer was good and cool
And there he was - Sebastian,
Self-labelled “Singing Fool”.

His gee-tar on his bony knee
Playing “Foxy Dame”
I loved him in that moment,
So deserving of some fame.

The crowd stood up as one,
When his song came to an end
They loved this man as well I.
They thought he was their friend.

He took his twenty-minute break
And kissed me on the cheek.
“Excuse me for a minute Babe
I’m gonna take a leak.”

The drummer and the bassist sat
Waiting for their man.
Sebastian was still not back
They went to check can.

Their faces gray and stricken
When they came stumbling back,
“I think he’s dead.” One shouted
“The needle’s still on track.”

I knelt on soggy tiles
And cradled his sweet head.
Sebastian, my angel.
“The Singing Fool “ was dead.

Them’s hurtin’ words, he’d growl,
If he was here today.
So tune that axe and play sad songs
To send him on his way.


That chilly wind got to me, DM, so here's a postscript.

Last edited by Tristesse : 10-20-2003 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 10-21-2003, 10:35 AM   #20
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Now this one made me sad. Thanks for the poem, Tristess.
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Old 10-21-2003, 05:24 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by darkmaas
Now this one made me sad. Thanks for the poem, Tristess.

Sorry ~ it wasn't meant to induce sadness. Perhaps excess lachrimation? Get it all out........
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Old 10-22-2003, 08:58 PM   #22
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re: Lachrimae

Sad is good. Thanks for the poem and the contibutions to the other thread.

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Old 10-23-2003, 01:09 AM   #23
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first snow flies

townies

foggin up the town

with the stream in their breath

stranded with talks about Arizona

or Alabama or anywhere warm-

and me

i really didnt want to see her

jailhouse tattoos

hands in my lap

pinch my tit

wonder about

a nice man

drinking water.
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Old 10-23-2003, 09:18 PM   #24
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Damn, I already missed so much drinking.
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Foolish Rants Redux

saying something foolish


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Old 10-24-2003, 12:26 AM   #25
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Okay DM,

You send me places I didn’t need to go, places I hope my kids never hear of, and even worse, places my kids better never tell me about.

This thread brought to mind a trip to a friend’s house. It was right after finals. I gave him a ride home, several states away. It was kind of on the way. Traveling from Georgia to Kansas by way of Maryland. I drove at night after being up for three days straight doing the finals bit. A couple of black beauties, a joint, and lots of coffee got us there. I remember I slept on the couch most of the next day. When I woke up, we ate something and headed for the bar. It was a small town, so we were hanging out with his friends and relatives. Hanging out, Marlboro Reds, cold brews and shooting pool. He had two sisters, both older. I remember talking to the unmarried one and somehow we got on the topic of poetry. I was a cocky bastard, so it was nothing for me to just throw something down on anything available. Anything to impress the ladies. A few minutes ago, I went looking through my files. I found a Maryland Department of Transportation envelope that she had pulled out of her purse. It had two poems on it. One I vaguely remembered as being appropriate for this thread. Not great, but appropriate. Not that it really matters, but I didn’t sleep on the couch that night.

Feeling Really Old and Foolish

Sitting on my barstool
Beer in my hand
A good song on the jukebox
Friendly Conversations
Life goes by

I buy her a drink
And say hello
She says alright
And then we go
Life goes by
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