No New Tabs

December 26, 2007

“NO NEW TABS”

(Sign in the Chukker October 25, 1971)
When the stranger swung into this dark butt-littered bar,
draped his white weird toga, or whatever, over a stool,
and ordered Miller’s Malt, no one was perturbed
(it being late, and most of us dead drunk).
But when he said “No bread,” a hush fell like a flatiron.
“No new tabs,” Mark said, and gestured.
The stranger scratched his beard,
his blue eyes slow and casual as swimming pools.
“Lookee here,” said the stranger,
“I don’t know how long it takes you necks to get the papers,
but I’m the son of God,
and I could turn this Miller into wine;
but I’m inclined to turn you and your buddies into Ovaltine.
What do you say? I’m kind of in a hurry.”
One skinny arm reached out of Mark’s white shirt,
shaking, and tore the sign down.
A row of white teeth chattered and chattered,
and said, “Here at the Chukker, if nothing else, we believe.
More to the point, you gotta make exceptions.
What about another?”
Brushing the sticky halo from his hair, he went to fetch it.

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