About a Bar

I’m taking my new hip replacement out for a drink
and stunned to see Erin behind the bar, not Irish
but an American of South Asian descent. She’s already
grabbed the martini glass, calling out “The usual?”
as I settle on the cushioned bar stool in one of the oldest
restaurants in Boston. All my life I’ve wanted
a bartender to say “The usual?” to me, and now it
happens and my brand new hip tingles just a bit.

Erin set ’em up at The Parker House bar
years ago when I’d drop by after work, punching
in at five for a quick three or four with a thirsty
friend or two. Erin was either blank or bleak,
cranky as a mean weasel, her frown tamping down
the costly cheer till my buddies finally said they would
drink there no more, and switched to The Black Sheep,
also with plush stools and fancy but a chipper barkeep.

One sluggish summer, she vanished. Just disappeared,
replaced for years by a big old blarnified, rosy-nosed
Irishman of Irish descent who brogued his way into
many a tip, rattling on a bit too much for my taste.
The deserters came back by autumn and I forgot Erin,
although, to be candid, I’d had no problem with her moods.
Who knows, after all, what sorrow lurks in a stranger’s heart?
And then today I hobble in and she gives me quite a start,

rolling around behind the bar like a busy penny with a smile
as bright as a dime. “The usual?” she says, and what surprises
me more, I wonder, her reincarnation or her memory?
Or her mood? As she stirs my very-dry, she chats with an
old stool-warmer, laughing, flirting, leaning on the gleaming wood.
I squint through a mist of wonder at the translated young woman
as she pours stories like rain about her new-born bairn.
Ah! that explains it, I think, that or serotonin like a hurricane.


Alec Solomita has published fiction in the The Mississippi Review, Heart of Flesh, Southwest Review, The Adirondack Review, and Peacock, among other publications. He was shortlisted by the Bridport Prize and Southword Journal, and named a finalist by the Noctua Review. His poetry has appeared in Algebra of Owls, The Galway Review, The Blue Nib, Oddball Magazine, Poetica, and elsewhere. His poetry chapbook, Do Not Forsake Me, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2017. He lives in Massachusetts.

Poet/Photographer Jennifer Matthews’ poetry has been published in Nepal by Pen Himalaya and locally by the Wilderness Retreat Writers Organization, Midway Journal, The Somerville Times, Ibbetson Street Press and Boston Girl Guide. Jennifer was nominated for a poetry award by the Cambridge Arts Council for her book of Poetry Fairy Tales and Misdemeanors. Her songs have been released nationally and internationally and her photography has been used as covers for a number of Ibbetson Street Press poetry books and has been exhibited at The Middle East Restaurant, 1369 Coffeehouses, Sound Bites Restaurant in Somerville and McLean Hospital.