The singer

by John Boland

Snug in this midnight bar, two drinks
in front of him, he bends my ear.
Time to take stock, he thinks:
sixty (can you believe?) this year.

Women, I’m told, once swooned.
He was the baby of the group, though
now his cherub’s face, unruined
by all the bad that living throws

at everybody else, looks odd:
you feel it hasn’t paid its dues.
Others, it says, can suffer for the god
of art and music if they choose,

he’s not a one given to fretting;
women and drink may well cause harm,
but only if you’re letting
them get to you. He has a charm,

no doubt, and talent, too, though now
(landlord, the same again!) he wonders
what new approach will best allow
his gifts shine through. There were blunders,

he concedes, down through the years –
maybe too many good times, too –
but what the hell, this fresh career
will show the doubters he’s not through.

Closing his eyes, lost in a trance,
he suddenly begins to croon.
This song’s for me, all wild romance
and blighted love and death come soon.

His breath is on my face. I blink
and wish that I were elsewhere. Yet
in his past, adoring girls might think
this was as good as life could get.

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