POEM: From a bar I cannot afford and rarely frequent

-for Robin who brought me my one Manhattan

When I look up from my chair at the bar
Five television screens are playing each
Different programs.


Loud music (not too loud) rock and crossover plays.

There is this quiet period.
Stimulation is pro forma; not urgent.
The bar’s loud weekend by comparison scared me away.

This is the bar across the street
The bar does not have a name;
Not a formal one.

It is above a nightclub described by octogenarians (with whom I live) as noisy.
The nightclub is the Phyrst.
By common usage, this bar is the Second (still in search of a name).

Am drinking a Manhattan:
Bourbon and sweet vermouth as I wait for a chicken salad.

It is 5:31 pm, Eastern Standard Time.
Yes, I note the time in Paris is 11:31 PM.

My daughter Amelia is in Spain experiencing 11:31 time.
My publisher in Scotland the same.
I am here (in this bar) because there is a lull
In the pressures of time.

Sybaritic, I order Maker’s Mark bourbon—
Bourbon recommended by
The Wall Street Journal
And costing extra.

Second is the bar
In which I strategized
Last year’s kidney cancer and
Journey to New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Flying to New York takes longer than the bus.
Trust me.

Now, one major surgery
After over six months recovery
I am off to New York for a routine examination.

Sometimes alcohol is an efficient
Part of the decision making process.

Airports on my mind,
I drink a toast to you.

Joel Solkoff

State College PA 16801 May 4, 2014


May 2014 motto

“If someone were to ask me now for directions in the neighborhoods where I lived the first twenty-five years of my life I could only say, with a helpless smile, ‘I am a stranger here myself.'”

–Lewis Mumford