Howard Wright


Before I write the next poem I'm reminded
of a few years back in the godless, alcoholic
after-hours of a New Year's party, when the
streets are never empty and everyone is full,
and taxis can't be had for love nor money,
we borrowed two of your brother's sheepskin coats

for the long haul down the hill into the
embrace of the town, and home; to the house
before this one, hardly crediting the late night
(or early morning) and lifting our heavy
Puritan collars to re-focus the slurred
greetings, the boozy Happy New Years,
though of course too far gone to respond,

and much too much out of it to remove our
clothes when we finally sighted land in the
shape of a bed, and so waking up-crumpled,
suffused with smoke, woozy-like everyone
else when the day was virtually over, and
another session ripe for beginning. Then the
long walk up the hill

to return the coats. At some point
your brother seems to have taken pity on us.
He quickly reshaped the episode as a story
for his parties when guests must sing
or recite and join in the banter and crack
and a veritable Mississippi of drink.
I've learned to have a poem ready

that will deny everything. Including this.