In keeping with universal saloon practice,
the clock here is set 15 minutes ahead
of all the clocks in the outside world.
This makes us a rather advanced group,
doing our drinking in the unknown future,
immune from the cares of the present,
safely harbored a quarter of an hour
beyond the woes of the contemporary scene.
No wonder such thoughtless pleasure derives
from tending the small fire of a cigarette,
from observing this class of whiskey and ice,
the cold rust I am sipping,
or from having an eye on the street outside
when Ordinary Time slouches past in a topcoat,
rain running off the brim of his hat,
the late edition like a flag in his pocket.
Billy Collins is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Ballistics and The Trouble with Poetry, and served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-2003.