Joe


Evening arrived and Joe sighed.
This was his job
Filled, drunk, wiped and refilled,
By the peg and the tankard.
The dank smell of muddy boot-prints
Alongside lager and whiskey and rum.
It was all he’d ever known.

Then, in the haze of beer-bellies and barley-breath,
He saw her at the bar.

She was beautiful; her face framed by tangled auburn curls
That she kept clearing away from her eyes.
Oh those eyes.
Brown? Grey? He wasn’t sure;
But he knew they didn’t belong to this place
With its woebegone patrons -
Wife-beaters, loafers and loan defaulters.

This angel was not one of them.

Then those heavenly eyes let loose a torrent of tears.
A pain shot through his heart
And the whole world stood still while she wept.
Then she dried her tears with the back of her lovely hand:
It came away blackened by her mascara.
She spoke in a voice that was stronger than she looked:
“A pint of your finest whiskey, barkeeper.
Neat, and no ice.”

He ached for her. He wanted to dry her tears…

Then, to his delight, he was summoned
To be her savior.
He took her whiskey to her.
She looked at him and her face crumpled.
“Don’t cry,” he implored, “for I might break.”
But she didn’t hear him.

As her tears spilled onto the whiskey, he couldn’t take anymore.
He shattered in front of her.

She screamed and clawed at her eyes
They were now weeping not tears, but blood.
All around her there were startled cries
One man grabbed a broom, another a washcloth.

And another called a hospital.

It was too late; those eyes would no longer see.
And no one else would see them either
Or wipe the tears that would fall again, and again.

If only poor Joe had known.
But how could he?
He was just a whiskey glass.