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There is glitter on the table and salt in my book
gritty on my arm as I press down to write.
I sip and lick salt from my fingers.

No one sits in the center of the room
bodies huddle at the bar, hug the walls,
so I sit at the back where I can see you all
Ballcaps, hoodies, Santa hats, sweaters
Blondie in a ballgown texting who knows what.

I claimed a table for friends tonight,
brought a candle and journal to fill the time until their faces appear.
One by one they come and we make the ‘howdy stranger’ talk
over light beers, battered onions, and speakers playing a bit too loud.

She came in last, her withered body wrapped in sagging jeans
and a pretty white sweater made of cloud,
her face tells me her kitchen is on fire.
We danced around her fire all night trying to douse it with smiles
and talk of the sunlit moon, Saturn in transit, but
she wanted to sit in her kitchen fire.
We left her there watching as she poured old wine into older skins
wondering why everything in her world leaks
pushing hope away on the longest night of the year.

Lenny came on and gently, so very gently, plucked strings in the dark
to tell us about that famous blue raincoat, the one torn at the shoulder
and I knew we were meant to be here

and that we should always carry hope like a lighter in our pocket
for those nights we go astray.