The Old Man at the Pub

I sipped my bourbon and
He stared at me
From the other end
Of the bar.

He scowled and shook his head
As if I was offending him
By sipping on that fine bourbon
While he sipped water.

His eyes began to well up
And lowered his eyes
Keeping his head down for a few minutes
Never looking up.

When I finished my drink
He raised his head and gazed my way
From the other end
Of the bar.

The bartender asked
If I wanted another
But before I could answer
The man stood up.

I looked over to him
He stood and he shook his head
And began walking towards my end
Of the bar.

As he approached me
I saw his face more clearly
And I gasped as I realized
Who he was.

He was older
And grizzlier and walked with a limp
Reaching for his wallet
As he approached.

In his wallet were pictures
Of our wife and children
Not much older than they appeared in the the pictures
In my wallet.

Before I could ask
He pulled out a picture
Flipped it over and wrote the words
“This is when they left.”

Shocked, I asked
“Why would they leave?”
As the tears began to fall from my eyes
Onto the bar.

He pointed at my glass
Then stood up looking directly into my eyes
And walked out the door
Of the bar.

Justin has been running websites since his first Geocities site in 1994, but only did he ever start covering anything of substance years later. After he stopped regularly running local concerts in Northern NJ and the greater Philly area, he knew he needed to step up his writing game if he expected to continue to get free music to listen to. He writes regularly here and at Cinapse, as well as contributing to a few other sites on occasion. He likes music, film, the Philadelphia Eagles, the 76ers, talking about Criminal Justice, reading Intelligence Report, and his family... not in that order. His beautiful wife is far more talented than he is and his kids far more adorable... and crazy.
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2 Replies to “The Old Man at the Pub”

  1. Avatar
    Josh Cripps

    Ouch. I say ouch now instead of “OH GOD” because where I once used to be suffering from an open wound, I am now just feeling the sting of a healed scar. It is good to feel that sting. It’s much like the aching knee of an old man predicting the frost or rain, but the one I speak of is one of the soul; scars of past addiction, loss, death. In this poem you told me a story, but one I already knew. One I have lived. I have told this story myself, and have heard it told back to me in every “room” I’ve stepped foot in and every house I’ve visited where the sick go for healing. Then that final nagging question: “why couldn’t that have happened to me before I lost it all?” And another “ouch”. Thankful that these days the questions I’ve learned to ask start with “what” instead of why. As I. “What can I do to never be that person ever again?” And “what can I do to be of service I those still suffering?”. Thank you for this, I find that the more reminders I have the less ill be wondering what I’m missing.. Good job J. Junkie approved 😉

    • Avatar

      Thanks for reading and for the insight, Crips.

      I’m lucky enough to not have the grips of this disease, this monster, on me… but it’s in my family and I’m sure to be careful to understand that buried somewhere in me, that monster may be lurking.

      So, while I do drink (usually in moderation), I won’t let it become something I need and I won’t drink as a coping mechanism.

      Keep strong, brother.

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