poetry

POET FOUND IN THAW

A snowpoem of a different bent, from Richard Hugo. The poem is not all about snow but turns on it, and the idea of smothering. (ahem):

Letter to Logan from Milltown

Dear John: This is a Dear John letter from booze.
With you, liver. With me, bleeding ulcer. The results
are the horrific same: as drunks we’re done. Christ,
John, what a loss to those underground political
movements that count, the Degradationists,
the Dipsomaniacs, and that force gaining momentum
all over the world, the Deteriorationists. I hope
you know how sad this is. Once I quit drinking it was clear
to others, including our chairman (who incidentally
also had to quit drinking) that less 40 pounds
I look resolute and strong and on the surface appear
efficient. Try this for obscene development: they made me
director of creative writing. Better I’d gone on bleeding
getting whiter and whiter and finally blending
into the snow to be found next spring, a tragedy
that surely would increase my poetic reputation.
POET FOUND IN THAW     SNOWS CLAIM MISSOULA BARD
I’m in Milltown. You remember that bar, the beautiful bar
run by Harold Herndon where I pissed five years away
but pleasantly. And now I can’t go in for fear
I’ll fall sobbing to the floor. God, the ghosts in there.
The poems. Those honest people from the woods and mill.
What a relief that was from school, from that smelly
student-teacher crap and those dreary committees
where people actually say “considering the lateness
of the hour.” Bad times too. That depressing summer
of ’66 and that woman going — I’ve talked too often
about that. Now no bourbon to dissolve the tension,
to find self-love in blurred fantasies, to find the charm
to ask a woman home. What happens to us, John?
We are older than our scars. We have outlasted and survived
our wars and it turns out we’re not as bad as we thought.
And that’s really sad. But as a funny painter said
at a bash in Portland, and I thought of you then,
give Mother Cabrini another Martini. But not ever again
you and me. Piss on sobriety, and take care. Dick.

– Richard Hugo, from the book In Your Hot Dream. His collected, one of the books for our seminar this semester, is Making Certain It Goes On.

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