Monday, December 5, 2022


“Happy hour” around here begins quietly enough.

The first arrivals, the greetings, the half waves,

The nods. This group knows all the bartenders

By name and enjoys the waiter who likes to call

Himself, “the medicine man” and asks about

Doses and prescriptions. It begins slowly and

Grows louder, the conversations get to laughter,

Louder voices win out after a time. There’s a jazz

Band that plays some days and drowns out voices.

The listeners nod along to the music, love to hear

Something attributed to Fats Waller or even Count

Basie, but Dave Brubeck numbers get the most

Applause, applause for the most familiar. Happy

Hour lasts longer than an hour and the specials

They offer stay on as long as the crowd is thick and

Easy to please. Then the place starts to clear and

Go their separate ways, some act busy, some act

Afraid to go on to the next thing, and some need

The bartenders to call them a cab. That’s something

They’ll do for you if you are a regular and they know

Your story, the story you told them one Happy Hour

After a few too many.

J. K. Durick is a retired writing teacher and online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Third Wednesday, Black Coffee Review, Sparks of Calliope, Synchronized Chaos, Madswirl, Journal of Expressive Writing, Lightwood, and Highland Park Poetry.