Steve Kistulentz

The Sinatra Villanelle

Want to know what was said in that vinyl restaurant booth?
Think Sinatra crying highballs when Ava hightailed it for good,
the mournful croon of I took each word she said as gospel truth.

Order a drink from old Toots: double gin, a splash of vermouth;
light a Pall Mall, eavesdrop from where Gleason stood,
the jukebox whispering what she said in that saloon booth.

She ran off with a teenaged matador, and his bright embroidered suit
hangs on Frank’s old oaken hangar, above his polished boots.
That’s what you get when you take what she says as gospel truth.

I took out a woman about to leave, dinner as an anniversary truce,
and consoled myself with Manhattans, light on the sweet vermouth,
the night she pronounced our death in a cavernous restaurant booth.

History means mistakes, poking like a child at a loosened tooth,
two stubborn actors rubbing six dollar bourbon into their wounds,
all because they mistook the simplest words we say as gospel truth.

It’s last call, but don’t go just yet. Be a stand up guy like Frank or Toots.
The broad leaves, a pal stays, that’s the song. So send a drink if you would,
Listen to Frank tell how the story ends, alone in that booth.
I’d always known she’d turn me down. That’s the gospel truth.