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The Closest Thing
by Edward O'Dwyer

The bar had been empty
until he ambled in and selected a stool,
his chaotic hair telling the bartender
all he needed to know
about the weather.

He removed his coat and scarf.
The weight of the world
he appeared to have carried in, however,
was not a garment that could be
laid over a chair or set at his feet
or hung on a peg.

He was asked what he would like, then,
in a tone that couldn’t quite
make its mind up
whether it was friendly or hesitant.

The man took time to choose his words,
eventually replying
that what he’d really like
is a little justice in this life,
if it wasn’t any trouble,

as though the bartender might
pick up a polished glass from a shelf
and begin pouring into it
a measure of such.

Instead, the bartender informed him
that it was not on their limited menu.
He suggested a beer
as though this was the closest thing
he had to what his customer was looking for. 

Edward O'Dwyer was born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1984. His poetry has been published in periodicals throughout the world, including 'The Forward Book of Poetry 2015', 'Poetry Ireland Review', and previous editions of 'The Stony Thursday Book'. He has taken part in Poetry Ireland's Introductions and been shortlisted for a Hennessy Award, and has had work nominated by journals for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Web prizes. His first full collection is 'The Rain on Cruise's Street' (Salmon Poetry, 2014).