What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.
— STROTHER MARTIN AS THE CAPTAIN IN COOL HAND LUKE
In this town all mice are cousins,
one closed business looks like another.
Failure’s a silent partner in many bars.
You passed Wow’s Etc. for ten years,
kept it like some scary movie to be watched.
You favored what you imagined in the line
of broad backs leaning in from six a.m.
The beer sign in the window blinked
red letters across the slumped regulars.
This week you drive by Wow’s Etc.
before sun, the plot you refused to imagine
happens – dark darker than bar dark,
lights out not coming back black,
as if the girl you loved through ninth grade
moved away before you ever spoke.
All the grim stories of gambling debts
and deals gone wrong might have been hash browns,
Bloody Marys, and wheat toast with no butter.
You fear if you watch Cool Hand Luke again,
Strother Martin will never have said the line.