Knopf Poem-a-Day: April 4, D. Nurkse’s “The Bars”

A cold drink and a taste of self-knowledge in D. Nurkse’s corner of Brooklyn.

The Bars

After work I’d go to the little bars
along the bright green river, Chloe’s Lounge,
Cloverleaf, Barleycorn, it was like dying
to sit at five p.m. with a Bud so cold
it had no taste, it stung my hand,
when I returned home I missed my keys
and rang until my wife’s delicate head
emerged in her high window and retreated
like a snail tucked in a luminous shell–
I couldn’t find my wallet, or my paycheck,
though I drank nothing, only a few sips
that tasted like night air, a ginger ale,
nevertheless a dozen years passed, a century,
always I teetered on that high stool
while the Schlitz globe revolved so slowly,
disclosing Africa, Asia, Antarctica,
unfathomable oceans, radiant poles,
until I was a child, they would not serve me,
they handed me a red hissing balloon
but for spite I let it go, for the joy
of watching it climb past Newton Tool & Die,
for fear of cherishing it, for the pang
of watching it vanish and knowing myself
both cause and consequence.

Listen to D. Nurkse read “The Bars” on the Knopf Tumblr.

Learn more about D. Nurkse’s A Night in Brooklyn.

Hear D. Nurkse read in Bethesda, New York City, or Bronxville this month. Find D. Nurkse’s full event schedule here.

Excerpt from A NIGHT IN BROOKLYN. Copyright © 2012 by D. Nurkse. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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