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Algonquin Afterthoughts

By the time you swear you’re his
Shivering and sighing,
And he swears his passion is
Infinite, undying—
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.
—Dorothy Parker

Or else our drunken tumble was

too true for daylight’s pleasure,

too much in vino veritas

troubled the gods of measure

who sent bright draughts of sunshine down

and sobered up my treasure.

All night rapacity had come

as naturally as breathing;

we nibbled on each other’s necks

like greedy babies teething.

How soon an empty bottle makes

one feel a blissful free thing.

“Aspirin, aspirin,” he implored;

I fed him several pills,

and when he wondered where he was

it gave me frightful chills,

but still I told him of the party’s

unexpected thrills.

Words woke us up, reflection turned

affection to regret:

“After she left me I tried not

to do this, but I get

so lonely”… so I showed him out,

warbling “I’m glad we met.”

But now I crave the swift return

of scotch-transfigured nights,

like Chaplin, horrified by his

rich friend in City Lights

who only recognizes him

from liquor-gladdened heights,

sticking a tall glass in the man’s

upstanding hand (the clink

or worse awaits poor tramps like us

if scamps like you won’t think)

and meekly scolding, in a voice

weak with nostalgia, “Drink.”

from Silver RosesFind it in the library

Copyright © Persea Books 2010
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Published in Poems Rachel Wetzsteon

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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