The parrot, green except for where it moults,
butts beak against the barmaid's well formed back
as she tots up another tab for dolts
who line the zinc-topped bar while she leans slack
against the register. The parrot rolls
his eyes and lifts his shoulders, which I ape
while Caroline ignores us both and strolls
to Captain Hook who mouths some jape
about the "thrill is gone," not saying whose.
The parrot says the singer's Robert Cray.
I cannot care and let the lady choose
the next song but she answers "Yo no sé"
and Pink Floyd hammers more bricks in the wall
and the night comes down and finds me glad to fall.
The late sun makes the whiter people sick
and tour groups shelter in the noisy bar
appalled, enthralled by Caroline, her slick
appearance, skin the limbic way "ajar"
amounts to "make way" near her blouse
when she and the green parrot dip for drinks.
The uncaged parrot's ancient pupils house
an admiration an old tourist thinks
no animal should have for Caroline
but she leans forward and we punters smile,
me and the parrot, and the evening's fine.
The tourists take their bus another mile
and the green bird and the lady ladle beer
into my glass like it required more cheer.
Bar music really underscores alone
and lounges full of losers don't add up
to more than busy signals on a phone,
to more than travelling salesmen who come sup
on distant dreams, expense accounts and time
that they are losing like hair, waistlines, hope.
Turn up the music, Caroline, and rhyme
what you believe the words must be, and grope
for notes you know but when you're dressed can't reach.
The parrots, watching, goes back in his cage
as we ignore the lessons he can teach
and I ask you to dance, and primal rage
propels us and our dreams across the floor
until the music stops, us at the door.
I like me in the mirror of this bar,
dark glasses, tanned, the parrot taking note.
I flash keys from a newly stolen car
and think that any day now I'll emote.
The rock band pushes for a Beach Boy beat
and two girls dance together, and a man
as old as both their fathers, kind of neat,
attempts to cut in, doesn't understand.
And She turns up the volume, and the bird,
the ancient parrot, shows the secret red
beneath his green and clipped wings while absurd
bus tourists, like they mattered, jump and shed
their inhibitions, grin and try to dance
while I and my reflection hold our trance.
Bar San Francisco appeared in Möbius in their Fall-Winter Issue, November 2001.