That Corner Booth

It’s New Year’s Eve 1987.
The light barely glows
in the far reaches of that corner booth.
The odor of stale ale
and cancer stick exhaust is ever present.
The smug menace of Al Capone’s men
fill the voids beside Gretsky, Ali and Jordan.

It’s 1937, the photos are of Joe Louis,
Jesse Owens and Babe Ruth.
Dave Renault is a contemplative statue,
sipping flat beer in that corner booth.
His self-assured vulture features
reveal neither glee not sadness.
He’s a man prepared to die at any time
for the sake of extravagant living.
Eerily calm, he visualizes the arrival
of a blazing rifle.

The mayor is travelling incognito.
He’s on his way to Renault’s table,
for a confidential chat. He’s not happy,
something about a bag, snagged on the river floor,
breaking free in a flood
and ending up in the lagoon
by his father’s holiday resort.

It’s 1952,
Ralph Wilson lounges in that corner booth,
excited by the demonic atmosphere.
No one in the flesh overheard the fading cries
wafting from his cellar,
with the stink of dead and dying rats.
He wishes passing F.B.I agents well
as they stride to the bar,
winking as they pat their pockets.

New Year’s Eve 1987,
the beer is crisp, cold and foaming.
Fits of laughter pump rivers of tears,
in that corner booth.
Capone’s eyes shift in the old photograph.
‘Joke away you bums’
Reg heard Al’s whisper floating in the Friday night din.
Ordinary perception could not have discerned it.
The panic in his eyes
motivates euphoric revellers to follow him out.

It’s bowel avalanches all round
as machine gun fire sprays the room
like a cloud of lead hornets;
bullets find their splintery graves
in that corner booth.

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