International School of Los Angeles

“12:34,” a poem based off of the painting “Nighthawks”



12:00 a.m. and Mr. Jackson sits on the slightly broken barstool.

The one that is too squeaky for my ears to bear.

Obnoxious and extremely annoying to hear.

He tilts his head down, mutters in my ear:

“I’d like a scotch on the rocks. If I have another bad day, I swear…”

Naturally, I have to ask.

What is so hard to take in?

If he worked the hours I do and got paid the money I get paid, surely he’d find a way to appreciate his supposed “bad day”.

They say with my job comes an unbearable flow of stories that are meaningless.

I say that with those stories I could write an entire novel.

Maybe two.

“Here’s your scotch on the rocks, cold as an iceberg.”

As he downs his glass, the Gordons come in.

Saturday, 12:17,

Here on the dock and back from another exciting New York City party.

I take out the Chardonnay, pour it in two glasses.

“Michael, my man, you just know us by heart,” Mr. Gordon says.

“Well knowing your order is part of the art

Of being a bartender.”

I clean more glasses

Set up some coffee cups

Pour some hot brew in one and give it to Mr. Jackson.

“You really need this, given your current state. Want something to eat?”

“No worries, I just ate.”

No cream, no sugar, drinks it in its simplest state.

Now if only the world could be that way.

But the world is chaotic.

Everything a mess.

Some things are in order, but others are not.

Mrs. Gordon’s dress is wrinkled.

Mr. Gordon’s hat is tilted too far right.

Mr. Jackson’s tie is too loose.

And my apron is now soiled.

“Thanks, man,” Jackson says, slamming a twenty on the table.

“Have a good evening, Michael,” Mr. and Mrs. Gordon say simultaneously.

After a goodnight on my part, and a good bar swipe, I turn off the lights and take off my apron and lock the door.

It is now 12:34,

And I want to go home.

Based on the painting Nighthawks, by Edward Hopper