sometimes a moment comes
when we hear the sound of pounding drums
cutting through the constant buzz
like a message that ever was
as henry resumed his spiel
explaining what was and was not real
my eyes apparently became so glazed
that even henry was fazed
he stared at me and then
said, " i hope i'm not boring you, ben"
i tried to laugh it off
and with a mendacious cough
i said, "of course not, henry
your conversation always fascinates me"
he gazed at me in silent contemplation
and then resumed his dissertation
on the secret causes of world war one
or maybe the exact moment the universe had begun
in his even voice, as always before
nothing less, but maybe something more
my mind and eyes kept wandering to the door
as they had never done before
henry, who was actually somewhat perspicacious
eyed me in a manner not quite gracious
suddenly he stopped
his face took on the look of a good cop
"i am boring you," he exclaimed.
"no doubt i have only myself to blame"
although i did not get down on my knees
i was full of apologies
"i am sorry, henry," i mumbled
on my secret had he stumbled?
but what was my great secret?
what did i have cause to regret?
my feelings were no nebulous
even i would be incredulous
if i tried to in words to explain
what i felt about jane
who still had not come through the door
as i glanced at it once more
now henry, following my glance
looked at me askance
"expecting a visitor?"
his eyes into me did bore
"ah, just as i thought all along
the same old sorry song
you are certainly not the first
it happens to the best and the worst -"
"please," i heard myself say
"i have had a long day
and your wisdom, though rigorously distilled
is still a bitter pill
i think i need some fresh air"
and under henry's incredulous stare
i slowly rose from my chair
looked at the door - still no jane there
and departed the premises of ray's
oh how many nights and days
had passed, since once immured
in my seat, i had so stirred
before closing time was announced
in my step there was no bounce
as i stepped out into the night
had my old life taken flight?
or was this only a blip
in the steady downward course of life's trip
from nothingness to nowhere
into the darkness i did stare
my feet i began to move
as i felt it did behoove
me to leave ray's behind
was i losing my mind?
nobody called my name
the street looked just the same
the yawning emptiness of the night
somehow felt just right
a few hours alone in my room
would not be a sentence of doom
and so without remorse
i set forth on my new old course
my paychecks i would save
to booze i would no longer be enslaved
and so i had made up my mind
but fate could not be so kind
and to my doom i was lured
for a voice behind me i heard
my head i could not restrain
from turning - and there was jane
what was jane to me
but the same old mystery
that envelops the trillion separate earths
of a trillion separate births
the whimperings and curses
of a trillion universes
abandoned and forlorn
never asking to be born
what had jane seen that night
that had caused her to take flight
was it any business of mine?
a casual observer might well opine
here i must confess
i am beginning to digress
i return to my narrative line
next night i was right on time
at the end of another day
in "my" seat at rays cafe
jane was not there, to my chagrin
and then - henry walked in
after greetings all around
the bar he found
and lovingly caressing his drink
into "his" chair he did sink
my world had been turned upside down
but henry didn't laugh or frown
in fact he hardly glanced at me
but looked around quite placidly
at the assembled denizens of rays
who did not seem to be changing their ways
they were staring at their suds
as if eternity was in their blood
nothing seemed worth a mention
then henry turned his attention
to me - his features rearranged
and he said "you've changed"
i had the wherewithal to say
"everything changes every day"
he replied quick as a cat
"you don't get off as easy as that -
i think you will agree
that nothing gets past me"
"no," i replied, slightly nettled
"i didn't know such a thing had been settled."
henrys eyes grew slightly wide
and he casually replied
"no reason to get testy, old boy
i didn't mean to annoy
it has been a while since we met
and i must confess i forget
where we ended our last converse -
did we leave the world better or worse?"
a fool could plainly see
that henry was trying to placate me
in his usual easy way
so why did i hear myself say -
"i don't know how i lasted so long
without your dance and song
your infinite knowledge of all events
your deep wisdom and profound sense
of all that has been and will be "
henry just stared at me
as if i had grown a second head
and then he said -
"my, aren't we in a lather
i thought you enjoyed my blather
or if not actively enjoyed
at least were never annoyed -"
henry's eyes narrowed and then
he opened them wide again -
"ah" he exclaimed with a trace of glee
"i think i begin to see -
you are showing all the signs
most of them not benign
of a guy who has had his brain
hammered by a dame
yes, i see it now only too well
one of them has cast her spell
maybe on purpose, maybe not
i never would have thought -"
i felt i'd been punched in the gut
"never would have thought what?"
"oh, i didn't mean to upset you"
henry took a sip of his brew
"we can talk about politics instead"
a whirlwind roared in my head
henry nodded and winked
i didn't know what to think
and where was jane tonight?
nothing seemed right
i really didn't know what to say
about this game i didn't know how to play