Paul sits in a bar with a beer.
He sits alone in the far corner.
He listens to the patrons talk.
He listens for a compassionate voice.

He hears a truck beep backing up.
He spies closed mouths keeping mum.
He views one man sleeping.
He hears gunshots as the door opens.

Paul hears a dog howl as the door closes.
A man at the unplugged mic rails against Jupiter.
A table of beached whales keen.
The juke box plays a chorus of prairie grass.

He listens to the entreaties of the homeless.
An unknown hand brushes against his.
A mumbled apology runs down his neck.
A woman with a long face hoists a pint.

Paul observes every couple is mixed race.
The glory of multiculturalism.
The daring of youth.
An oak tree shadow enters as the door opens.

He sees acorns tossed like bomblets as the door closes.
The acorns claim to explode transforming the bar to meadow.
It is their oak voices tunneling his brain.
It is the barbaric separation of mother from children.

Paul sees the final brushstrokes of sun paint the window.
He sees the afterwork-crowd press up to the bar.
They shine and shadow like Thanksgiving families.
Their blood-fire warms the room.

He hears the cocktail waitress ask if he wants another breath.
A peace-melody ties itself around his ring finger.
An acorn sprouts into a tree of hope.
Another settles into his belly and ignites.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

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