I went to Bogartʼs last night,
A bar in Albany, N.Y.,
My first bar in twenty years

Events to me are religious,
The religion of Bogartism is no exception
Only, the donation box is a requirement at the door

Communion is served at the bar
Or distributed by serviceful members
And most all partake
In this inebriation
And surrender to the One Bogart

A haze of smoky devotion
Is contributed by many of the congregation
As incense exudes from their mouths –
Streams of gray holiness in the dimness

I had trouble determining
What kind of service I was attending
Was it a wedding?
Or a funeral?
Or a long midnight mass
In honor of the banality of existence;
A tribute to the promulgation of human suffering
And desperation

There were many preachers
Chanting the psalms of desperation
Nailed to the cross of longing
For a union diffracted by the ambush
Of modern American life,
Submitting to the will of Bogart,
Establishing their frantic ethics
Within the framework of Bogartism,
Praying for the forgiveness and acceptance
Of the One True Bogart

And there were many musicians
Piercing the Holy air
With pounding undulations of pitch and sound
Meant to infiltrate the blackest of Souls
Singing the Hymns of Bogart,
Trilling traditions
In the Name of the One True Bogart,
Perpetuating the spirit and the beat of Bogartism

Eyes met eyes
Hearts met hearts
Souls met Souls
In the acknowledgment of longing
In the acknowledgment of suffering
In the acknowledgment of desperation
As if Bogartism were their only hope
As if Bogartism was really making them happy
The sadness in the Bogart Faith
Is that there is no true Victory –
In the clear blue silence
Beneath the frenzy of phenomenal action
Springs the solemn
And reverently earnest chant from
The collective jevatmas of the congregation

“Bogart my heart, Bogart my heart,
Bogart my heart.”

Itʼs repetition is rhythmic, hypnotic
And eternal

And as in all good religions,
Once the splendor and reward
Of love is attained,
The need for religion itself
Fades into the faithlessness
From which it was born…

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