October 28, 2003

The Drinker
By Robert Lowell

The man is killing time – there’s nothing else
No help from now from the fifth of bourbon
Chucked helter-skelter into the river,
Even its cork sucked under.

Stubbed before breakfast cigarettes
Burn bull’s-eyes on the bedside table;
A plastic tumbler of alka seltzer
Champagnes in the bathroom.

No help from his body, the whale’s
Warm-hearted blubber, foundering down
Leagues of ocean, gasping whiteness.
The barbed hooks fester. The lines snap tight.

When he looks for neighbors, their names blur in the window,
His distracted eye sees only glass sky.
His despair has the galvanized color
Of the mop and water in the galvanized bucket.

Once she was close to him
As water to the dead metal.

He looks at her engagements inked on her calendar.
A list of indictments.
At the numbers in her thumbed black telephone book.
A quiver full of arrows.

Her absence hisses like steam,
The pipes sing…
Even corroded metal somehow functions.
He snores in his iron lung,

And hears the voice of Eve,
Beseeching freedom from the Garden’s
Perfect and ponderous bubble. No voice
Outsings the serpent’s flawed, euphoric hiss

The cheese wilts in the rat-trap,
The milk turns to junket in the cornflake bowl,
Car keys and razor blades
Shine in an ashtray.

Is he killing time? Out on the street,
Two cops on horseback clop through the April rain
To check the parking meter violations –
Their oilskins yellow as forsythia.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home