Poem by Travis Wayne Denton
The light in bars then, around the holidays
Was always like the end of some film--
Any film—where the protagonist got nearly all
He wanted, left the rest to waste.
The camera pulls in close, catches
A drag of a cigarette, pans to ashtray
And snuffed fire, then to lights
Strung behind the glasses—a new year
Leans in to take stock of his silence
Which spills out the doors, into the street
And makes a joyful noise, like the sound
Of someone’s leaving town for good. Each time
I see that I’m back in a bar in Cabbagetown,
Near Christmas, in another life, I like to say,
Because it is not my life now. My occasional
Drinking pal Navajo Herb (still alive
And gloriously drunk), Vietnam vet and assassin
From a secret army unit—his ragged copy of the I-Ching
Spread before him, Black Russian, sweating in his left hand.
I tell him, (and remember what I said exactly,
Though not why I said it)
Herb, what’s the point of light
You have to strike a match to find?
Travis, your heart is not an empty room.
Herb, what became of the breath of those you put down?
Travis, you are not the doer, but the instrument of the doer.
And with that, his car just outside,
The moon kneeling, knowing it’s always later
Than anyone thinks, the city is a cathedral--
Such a serious house, its streets, the stretch between pews.
Travis Wayne Denton lives in Atlanta where he is the Associate Director of Poetry @ TECH as well as McEver Chair in Poetry at Georgia Tech. He is also founding editor of the literary arts publication, Terminus Magazine. His poems have appeared in journals, magazines and anthologies, like Barrow Street, Five Points, Ghost Town, MEAD: a magazine of literature and libations, The Greensboro Review, Washington Square, Forklift, Rattle, Birmingham Poetry Review, and the Cortland Review. His second collection of poems, When Pianos Fall from the Sky, was published by Marick Press.