The barstool’s capacious, then ever more enclosed,
with every beer, as evening erodes.

A few capricious tourists off the cozy track
propose unbeaten toasts. He’ll soon be going back.

Mannequin musicians play mandolins or thumb pianos,
bleat out a reggae air on ragged banjos.

The booths patter with the local lingo.
Smattered English polishes the windows.

An amble to the john, the mirror’s random crack.
The urinal’s askew. He’ll soon be going back.

The minimal solicitudes of seven-minute flirts:
blurted-out soliloquies, well-trained parting words.

Insert pejorative for natives here,
before a sputtered call for one more beer.

Dusty carnations; carnival bric-a-brac—
long-faded revaltions. He’ll soon be going back.

-Andrew Shields, “Expat” from

Thomas Hardy Listens to Louis Armstrong