The Bar in Hell

Just pick a stranger, and do the human dance, / Wagering your lost soul on your last romance

Poet Michael Lista against a red backdrop

It doesn’t ever close.
You’d need a firehose
To clean the locals out,
And even then they’d just go on burning,

The lip of their gin,
Still full of who they almost could have been.

We know, we know, you think it isn’t fair
To still be homesick for that vanished world
And the big man who banished you from it
But every God is Saturn and eats his sons,

Plus there’s a new boss now, the bro with horns,
And though the patrons say the devil may care,
They really mean he doesn’t, and never will,
About anything but the bill, which you pay for with your soul.

But who ever needed a soul anyway? They’re for throwing away.
That’s the great thing about Hell— 
Everyone can finally be themselves,
A girl who doesn’t love you on your arm,

A forbidden song in your heart,
A minor affair in a minor key.
And the bar in Hell is never empty—
It’s packed. I’m talking wall-to-wall whole snacks,

And though there isn’t room for everyone,
Everyone belongs. Dude: you can Tinder
Until your swiping finger is tender
And still not fall in love again, thank God.

Just pick a stranger, and do the human dance,
Wagering your lost soul on your last romance—
It’s what landed everybody here,
And there’s no one to behave for anymore.

Michael Lista
Michael Lista (@michaellista) is a writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Slate, and Toronto Life. His most recent book is Strike Anywhere: Essays, Reviews & Other Arsons.

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