“Izena duen guzia omen da.”

In this French province,
     this cross-topped city of
Jewish and Greek,
     African and Portuguese:

in this ache of oak and leather,
     old brandy and cigars
ooze from old men struggling
     with smartphones,

the corpulence of Britain’s
     finest hour giving the lunch
place a name.

A half-carafe for the euskaldun,
     instantly dispensed, while he
offers greetings and technological
     advice to the midday drinkers,
an intermittent etxekandere in
     his Crescent house.

There is beer for the still-Ottawan,
     then, following steak-frites,
fine scotch to warm a Celtic belly.
     A dessicated tavern-owner banters
with the high school barmaid,

with whom he would
     sleep, wryly offering silk scarf compensation.

Despite everything, the afternoon glows
     with shared histories, professional
and pardonable: of immense Vegas lobsters,
     soft logic, fortunes lost to indecision,
and cold trays of tequila at the Frappe.

And then, there are sons near tears
     at fathers too proud, too departed
to reveal even ruptures of pleasure
     in the journeys of their living sons.

[for Joe Alonso]


(c) Michael Quentin Abraham, 2016.

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