William Taylor Jr

Here in this Midwestern college town
everyone is 23 years old
and every other building is a brightly lit
sports bar
with flat-screen televisions
above every urinal
I am here for strange reasons
wandering about a Friday night
invisible to the crowds of men
in shorts and backwards baseball caps
and women in sleeveless dresses
I eventually have the luck
to find a little sign
on a sidewalk with an arrow pointing
to a flight of stairs leading down
which I follow to a dim-lit basement
that turns out to be a bar
the music is okay
and they have a decent selection of beer
I sit down to order something
and the fellow on the stool next to mine
shows me card tricks and doesn't ask for money
he's pretty good
and the bartender is kind and pretty and sways
in boredom to whatever tune is playing
and it's nice to gaze upon her
until sleep takes me back to my lonely room
and there are so many of you out there
demanding grander victories from life
and I've never understood.

William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe, including Rattle, The New York Quarterly, and The American Journal of Poetry. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. To Break the Heart of the Sun is his latest collection of poetry.