Joey Awake Now

Glyn Maxwell

Some poems,
right some poems.
I'm a lover of poems.
And yes, we lovers of poems
must stick together. Don't mind me. Pardon? Glenn?
Glenn? Glenn. It is nice to meet you, Glenn.
You are thinking you are in luck.
Because look,
a strange old man has joined you at the bar.
How fortunate you are
this fine day. I beg your pardon? Indeed.
The secret's out. I am indeed
a man with English, how do you say Raul, issues,
exactly, English issues.
No, not for fifty years.
Hoboken Italian now for fifty years.
I'm English when there are wars.
I was English when there were wars.
Oh no you don't have to pretend
you give a damn. You came here to write, my friend,
then a sleepy old fool comes dropping by to tell you
what it was like in his day. Well I'll tell you:
I was extremely handsome. It took me
seconds to go to the bathroom. End of story.
Raul, the same for him and the same for me,
he's being much too polite. English, you see,
not like us. I'd have said Bugger off
by now. Raul doesn't get that, 'bugger off'
he thinks it's some kind of cool
new vodka, don't you, Raul?
Raul says he understands,
he understands
bugger off
it's what I was afraid of,
no secrets now, no secrets
for the Brits,
not from Americans
Glenn, no secrets from Americans.
The war?
Look at him, pen at the ready, like I could say
some poetry. We lovers of poetry.
What's so important in the world that you can't
stop the ride a moment,
open a little black
empty book
and remind the world you're blue? There's not a thing.
Burning building? Nothing.
Love of a lady?
'I am at work. Please ask her to wait in the lobby.'
His eyes are glazing over, he's remembering
something he's forgetting
something. If you ask me, to tell you,
Glenn, if you're sincerely truly going to,
I may
do so. I may
tell you a thing or two, I wouldn't do so,
I wouldn't—muchas gracias—I wouldn't do so,
only it's Saturday.
Not Saturday,
Black Saturday.
And in sixty years of rinso white Saturdays
it never did find
one to hide behind.
You go through morning into afternoon
and it's always sunny, Saturday, in rain
or snow or storm who cares?
you pass the hours,
you're free and the crowd is free and the whistle blows
a goal is scored, the long shot by a nose
then you happen to glance at the sky
and I say you I mean I . . .
I say you I mean I, me
riding on my bike and I
saw this mass of planes
in patterns they were their planes
and with the sky so thick
the light was weak, your hold on it was weak
your life so far
some kind of lucky break. They were everywhere
and in the day,
not in the night in the day like your worst fear suddenly
figured it out and came.
What's stopping us? I rode my bike straight home
to tell my gran and I'm pedalling for my life
I know they can see me up there! Hey Ralf
shoot zat paper boy or he'll never stop!
Never stop
telling ze vorld on us . . .
Raul's laughing at me. You're not? That's how it was.
Personal, kind of. Felt you were in their minds.
They were in our minds,
pale types, munching schnitzel! Here
well it's true they had thejaps but not here,
they didn't have them out of a blue sky
over the skyline on a Saturday.
September 7th. What do you mean it's the 8th?
The Saturday was the 7th, it wasn't the 8th.
He's telling me. Where do you come from? Pardon?
Say again what garden? Well-in-the-Garden?
Oh there.
Shredded Wheat's made there.
That was the sort of place we thought we'd get to.
Because we had to get to
somewhere, we were bombed out
on the first night of the thing. Or, we weren't bombed out
precisely, me and my gran,
she always believed what I told her, did my gran,
Mrs Katherine Mabel Stone.
Truth of the matter is, I had my own
reason for getting out.
It isn't a thing you know when it's happening. But
you're young,
you're wearing a wedding ring,
we figure it out in time.
You'll understand how it was if you give a damn.
And if you don't give a damn it'll still be there
a year or so anywhere
you find me. Soon I won't be giving one either.
Then you and I can give not a damn forever.
From The Sugar Mile by Glyn Maxwell. Copyright © 2005 by Glyn Maxwell. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

Museum by Glyn Maxwell
Sundays, like a stanza break
The Only Work by Glyn Maxwell
When a poet leaves to see to all that matters

Further Reading

Poems about Drinking
"To Speak of Woe That Is in Marriage"
by Robert Lowell
Driving and Drinking [North to Parowan Gap]
by David Lee
A Drinking Song
by W. B. Yeats
A Glass of Beer
by James Stephens
At the Blue Note
by Pablo Medina
Be Drunk
by Charles Baudelaire
California Plush
by Frank Bidart
Compulsively Allergic to the Truth
by Jeffrey McDaniel
Dangerous for Girls
by Connie Voisine
Days of Me
by Stuart Dischell
Deer Dancer
by Joy Harjo
Deer Hit
by Jon Loomis
Fallen Apples
by Tom Hansen
Father Listens to the Artists
by David Petruzelli
by Robert Lowell
I Love the Hour Just Before
by Todd Boss
I taste a liquor never brewed (214)
by Emily Dickinson
In Knowledge of Young Boys
by Toi Derricotte
In Vino Veritas
by Howard Altmann
by Tony Hoagland
Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX)
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Michael's Wine
by Sandra Alcosser
My Papa's Waltz
by Theodore Roethke
by Harvey Shapiro
On 52nd Street
by Philip Levine
Parties: A Hymn of Hate
by Dorothy Parker
Picking Up
by Evelyn Duncan
Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey
by Hayden Carruth
Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump
by David Bottoms
The Bottom
by Denise Duhamel
The Drunken Fisherman
by Robert Lowell
The Eternal City
by Jim Simmerman
The Silence
by Philip Schultz
the suicide kid
by Charles Bukowski
The Summer House
by Tony Connor
by Joel Brouwer
When a Woman Loves a Man
by David Lehman
Wine Tasting
by Kim Addonizio