The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Sunday


Country-Western Singer
By Alan Shapiro


I used to feel like a new man
After the day's first brew.
But then the new man I became
Would need a tall one too.

As would the new man he became,
And the new one after him,
And so on and so forth till the new men made
The dizzy room go dim.

And each one said, I'll be your muse,
I'll trade you song for beer.
He said, I'll be your salt lick, honey,
If you will be my deer.

He said, I'll be your happy hour,
And you, boy, you'll be mine.
And mine won't end at six or seven
Or even at closing time.

Yes, son, I'll be your spirit guide,
I'll lead you to Absolut,
To Dewar's, Bushmills, and Jamison,
Then down to Old Tanglefoot.

And there I'll drain the pretense from you
That propped you up so high;
I'll teach you how salvation's just
Salivation without the I.

To hear his sweet talk was to think
You'd gone from rags to riches,
Till going from drink to drink became
Like going from hags to bitches,

Like going from bed to barroom stool,
From stool to bathroom stall,
From stall to sink, from sink to stool,
From stool to hospital.

The monitors beep like pinball machines,
And coldly the IV drips,
And a nurse runs a moistened washcloth over
My parched and bleeding lips.

And the blood I taste, the blood I swallow
Is as far away from wine
As 5:10 is for the one who dies
At 5:09.

--------

"Alan Shapiro's new book [Old War: Poems] contains a remarkable section headed 'from The Book of Last Thoughts,'" writes Robert Pinsky in Poet's Choice The Washington Post Book World. "Each poem presents the dying thoughts of a different character in a form appropriate to that speaker...sometimes a form like this wears down or becomes predictable, but Shapiro keeps imagining new turns of mind and phrase, all true to the character."

This will be a quickie because I'm at my in-laws in Pennsylvania, watching Groundhog Day (the kids' choice). I spent the morning and afternoon at the Farpoint convention, which I attend every year largely to work -- I interview Star Trek people for TrekToday, which this year means Marina Sirtis who is always very nice and also a lot of fun because she can be be bitingly sarcastic and straightforward (she said she was going to get into trouble talking about the Enterprise finale and the oversaturation of the Trek franchise, but she talked anyway, heh). I also interviewed John Broughton of Starship Farragut and James Cawley of Star Trek: New Voyages -- the latter is way better looking in person than in any of his publicity photos. *g* I wish I had found an excuse to interview James Callis, but Battlestar Galactica isn't enough of a Star Trek connection, sadly.


Lest anyone should think Farpoint is heavily Trek-connected, here are some representatives from that other big 1970s sci-fi franchise.


And here is their daughter, obviously being raised in the tradition. (psu_jedi, I expect to see you and your family like this someday!)


A Prince Caspian display in the corridor outside the dealer's room.
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I also got to see beeej, selannia, saimhe and numerous other people I know from various fandoms, in some cases going back more than ten years! So that was awesome -- running into people is always my favorite part of conventions. And I scored some swag (Indiana Jones mini-posters!) and bought bottlecap art with a penguin, a four-leaf clover and an apple pie, which was compensation for the fact that while I was doing interviews, apaulled took the kids to lunch, to see The Spiderwick Chronicles and to a maple sugaring festival at a park near Hunt Valley. In the late afternoon they arrived at the hotel and I found them buying Magic cards in the dealer's room. Then we drove up to Hartford, had dinner with my in-laws and played dominoes. Sunday we may go to Gettysburg or to Harrisburg depending on the weather!
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