18 Aug 2015

Late Night Ode -- JD McClatchy


It’s over, love. Look at me pushing fifty now,
   Hair like grave-grass growing in both ears,
The piles and boggy prostate, the crooked penis,
   The sour taste of each day’s first lie,

And that recurrent dream of years ago pulling
   A swaying bead-chain of moonlight,
Of slipping between the cool sheets of dark
   Along a body like my own, but blameless.

What good’s my cut-glass conversation now,
   Now I’m so effortlessly vulgar and sad?
You get from life what you can shake from it?
   For me, it’s g and t’s all day and CNN.

Try the blond boychick lawyer, entry level
   At eighty grand, who pouts about overtime,
Keeps Evian and a beeper in his locker at the gym,
   And hash in tinfoil under the office fern.

There’s your hound from heaven, with buccaneer
   Curls and perfumed war-paint on his nipples.
His answering machine always has room for one more
   Slurred, embarrassed call from you-know-who.

Some nights I’ve laughed so hard the tears
   Won’t stop. Look at me now. Why now?
I long ago gave up pretending to believe
   Anyone’s memory will give as good as it gets.

So why these stubborn tears? And why do I dream
   Almost every night of holding you again,
Or at least of diving after you, my long-gone,
   Through the bruised unbalanced waves?

Source: McClatchy, JD, 1998, ‘Late Night Ode’ from Ten Commandments, Alfred A. Knopf.  Retrieved 18 August 2015, www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/236602

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