The Church of St. ING

Dank air, thick and heavy
like gaseous molasses, lazily ferments
In this amber rusted barrel
Of soulful blues and bad tobacco.

Faithful drunks slowly sway,
Inebriated from breathing kill-devil air.
They sing wailing, gospel woes in harmony
With Lucille on the record player.

Faded brown bed sheets hang from the ceiling,
Covering exposed water pipes and mold,
Billowing up like brown dust clouds
Floating over a bustling bazaar
In a back alley of Baghdad.

Youthful patrons bring with them
A breath of fresh and lively air.
Giddy to begin their weekly ritual
Of Bacchic worship this Saturday evening.

These half-hearted, holiday worshippers
Take their place among the devoted regulars,
Who’ve prayed from bar stool pews,
Solemnly consuming a eucharist
Of almighty alcohol and mixed nuts,
Confessing their sins to the barman priests,
All while searching for a salvation I see
In the emptiness of their glazed eyes
And the sadness lurking beneath each bingeing high.


ING is a rock bar near Sanjo station in Kyoto, Japan. It is usually populated with a good mix of Japanese and foreigners, most of whom are faithful patrons of the small establishment. Somewhat hidden on the second floor of an unassuming building, ING is a diamond waiting to be found by those looking for down-to-earth authenticity in the overly commercialized party district of Kyoto. This piece was written on a lonely evening when I found myself at the bar quite a bit earlier than usual. The deep conversations, steady stream of B.B. King, and (of course) flow of booze almost convinced me to become a more serious convert to Bacchus.

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