Jazz Blues in an Empty Bar

by Andrea M. Newton

There are no stars tonight.

I see, through dirt-streaked windows,
thin, yellow clouds shroud the sky.
No silver moonlight mixes, laughing,
with the careless light of streetlamps,
jaundiced beams too weak
to reach even the concrete sidewalks below.
And the chairs in this forgotten tavern,
splintered wood and chipped white paint,
creak in agony at the sound of the old piano,
dusty and out of tune.
But the pianoman still plays,
chasing the night with a song
for the handful of dimes in his glass.

The music turns me from the window,
leads as I step around chairs and tables.

I dance alone in the empty bar.
But, as the music plays,
lights the night with a rhythmic beat,
the floor is smooth and clean again,
and I am young,
curling into the crooning wail of jazz blues.
Drunken lovers at the shining tables
clap with the music, and smile as I lose myself
in notes sliding down my bare, arched back
like a waterfall.
They crash to the floor a faint echo,
and I sink down beside them
as applause fades into the night.
The man at the keys lifts his fingers,
soft and long and tired,
from cracked ivory,
and his foot from the tarnished brass pedal.
Pouring coins from the glass to his hand,
he clicks his heels across the cracked, wood floor,
leaves the door swinging shut behind him,
and me on the floor in the dark.