After Reading Hemingway’s “Clean, Well-lighted Place” (For Joel Toledo and the Bayaws)

Soon it will be like us. Eighty-year-old men 
Being refused another round of beers
Waiters eager to go home to their wives.
Assuming we reach old age
With the way we drink our sorrows, 
The way we drink our longings
The way we order buckets of pain,
We strive to be out of clichés
Like old men drinking at home.
The buko juice vendor will pass by
In a few minutes
At this hour I am still awake
Craving for sleep
We couldn’t even say goodnight
Because it’s several hours past
Midnight. People will drink 
Because that’s what they got to do.
Prayers won’t work
Though they do pray sometimes
When growing old is not what it should be
When growing old is not being old.


Totel V. de Jesus
Totel V. de Jesus
Totel V. de Jesus, 49, is a freelance lifestyle journalist covering theater, ballet, music, cinema, the visual arts, and everything in between. His articles appear on ABS-CBN News online and once in a while on GMA News website and the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper. A few of his earlier poems were published in Graphic magazine in the 1990s, when the great Nick Joaquin lorded over the literary section. This feels like a homecoming.


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