In the Delirium Café

In an alleyway bar in Belgium,

far below window-cradled hyacinths,

we watched a Frenchman reach across

the Delirium Café’s neon-lit pale

and slap the glasses from your head,

turning your eyes blind and face red.

We gawk. The result unpatriotic,

a non-response, just wordless gaping

like a fish, drowned by air, silent

as French flourishes pant beautifully

against your naked, sweaty face.

 

At home, years later, I comb

photos on Facebook of beer-filled glass

boots, bronzing the memory.

In the photo’s foreground, I see

my fellow Airmen’s nervous eyes so wide

they nearly excise the solemn pile of you

bent over just behind—an amaranth

left bleeding in gravity’s sympathetic hug,

tributaries splitting your broken glasses

like the jagged forks stretching south

of Paris to the river Yonne.