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Benét, Stephen Vincent: Azrael's Bar
Azrael's Bar

He stood behind the counter, mixing drinks;
Pride for the old, who like their liquor tart,
Green scorn frappé to cheer the sick-at-heart,
False joy, as merry as a bed of pinks.
He had the eyes of a sarcastic lynx
And in his apron was a small black dart
With which he stirred, secretive and apart,
His shaker, till it rang with poisonous clinks.
I fumbled for the rail. "The same, with gin?
Love -- triple star -- you like the velvet kick?"
I shook with the blind agues of the sick.
Then, through lost worlds, his voice, "Fini, old friend?"
He poured black drops out, cold as dead men's skin:
"So? This is what we always recommend --"
Stephen Vincent Benét, 1898 - 1943

Lunch at a City Club
(For, though not to, D. M. C.)

The member with the face like a pale ham
Settles his stomachs in the leather chair.
The member with the mustard-color hair
Chats with the member like a curly ram,
Then silence like the shutting of a clam,
Gulps, and slow eating, and the waiters’ stare—
Like prosperous leeches settling to their fare
The members gorge, distending as they cram.

And I am fiery ice—and a hand knocks
Inside my heart. Three hours till God comes true,
When there’s no earth or sky or time in clocks
But only hell and paradise and you.
Life bows his strings! I shout the amazing tune!
…The dullest member drops his coffee spoon.

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