He peered into the bar mirror over the bottles
            of gin and whiskey. Yes, he thought, he really
            did have a long face. Why hadn’t he noticed it

            before? But looking out of his moony eyes,
            he rarely wondered how others saw him, since,
            apart from mirrors, he never saw himself.

            Sure he was tall, no surprise there. Walking
            along city sidewalks, he felt that was why people
            slid to a stop when they saw him. But perhaps

            it was his face that upset them, its odd expanse;
            tombstone teeth, satchel mouth, black rubber lips.
            People gawked and, glancing back, he saw

            they were gawking still. None of this was new.
            Yet each occasion once more fueled his sense
            of isolation, which had begun at birth and came

            from being an only child. He had no memory
            of his father. His mother ran off after a few weeks
            and he’d been raised by strangers. Stubbornly,

            he worked to be strong, get on with the business
            of living, to focus his thoughts on the road ahead.
            But then a cruel wisecrack or brutal snicker

            would tumble him back to the beginning again,
            the self-doubt and crushing solitude. Did it really
            matter if he had a long face? But it wasn’t just that,

            it was his whole cluster of body parts. Alone they
            might have been fine, even the boxy feet. Then,
            when all joined into the oneness that was him,

            it changed. Not only did people stare, they looked
            offended; as if his very presence upset their pride
            and sense of self-worth; as if they were saying, How

            can it be good fortune for us to walk here, if you
            walk here as well; as if to see him and smell him
            lessened them as human beings. Soon they’d brood

            about their failings: broken marriages, runaway kids.
            Was this his only power, to make others feel lesser?
            How many of these downcast do we see on the street

            whose insides are marked by scars, who show off
            their apparent good cheer and lack of concern only
            to conceal their fears? And even if we saw them

            what could we do? The bartender coughed to get
            his attention, half-grinning, half-appalled.
            Why shouldn’t he stay? He had no one to visit,

            no place to go; he had only these long afternoons
            in anonymous bars with the televisions turned low.
           Give me a Jack Daniels, he said, and put it in a bowl.