Monologue Inside a Bar
by Dale Boyer

I'm too much in my head. Tonight, for instance,
I was standing talking to a man:
good looking, waspy-thin, a baseball player type
with blond hair, wire rims. Told me that he was going
off to Yale divinity, and that intrigued me --
that contrast between the physical and spiritual.
High in a corner of the bar, a monitor was showing
bodybuilding tapes, and I was feeling drunk.
Of course, I wanted to go home with him, but thought
I had to make some conversation;
so we stood there talking for a while,
and then, before I know it, boom, this guy walks in,
short, stocky, not bad looking. Anyway,
he sidles next to him, this guy that I've been
talking to, and in a matter of about 5 minutes,
he's leaning over, whispering into his ear,
and in a blink the two of them are off,
not looking back at me still standing there
with one beer in my hand and in my head the bi-
furcated question, would you like another?
I was shocked, I tell you.

It's just like the time
a poet gave a reading at my school; I loved his work:
huge, vivid, warm. When he arrived,
he was the same way, mammoth, rumpled, sensual.
I spent the whole day talking poetry with him
and later found out he had slept with Becky Phelps,
a girl that I knew well -- a pretty girl, I grant,
but one who must have thought synecdoche
was someplace in New York. She asked me, later,
if I had his books and I, imagining
that she was trying now to understand his work,
loaned them to her. I still remember how
she gave them back to me: bemused,
a little sheepish; how she turned to me
before she left and asked me earnestly,
"How do you say his name?"

I don't belong here anyway--
me, standing like some aging French professor

with my grey tweed coat and woolen scarf
among these beautiful but empty-headed youths.

Not that I teach yet, mind you, not full time,
and certainly not French. Sure,
I can read it decently, but that's a long way off
from speaking it. Just once I'd love to
launch into a totally spontaneous exchange
with someone, break outside my thoughts and fears
and live more boldly in the world,
the way this bodybuilder on the screen
plants both feet on the stage and shows off
his phenomenal physique. Oh how I'd love to fall
into the brute unthinking arms
of men who care about their bodies.

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