On December 9 One Page Poetry Circle met to discuss Poetry and Drink. We were grateful that a small but lively band braved the nor’easter and headed to the library with poems in hand.

BourbonBottleFrustrationAbigail began by reading Jon Loomis’ “Deer Hit” which describes a night when a drunk seventeen year-old hits a deer, puts it in the back of his father’s car, and drives home. The teen’s father, waiting up and watching tv, having had a few drinks himself, drags the deer out of the car and kills it. The poem concludes, “Some things stay with you. Dumping the body/deep in the woods, like a gangster. The dent/in your nose. All your life, the trail of ruin you leave”, leaving us to ponder how too much drink can lead to unintended consequences.

Roger read “The Demon Drink” by William McGonagall, who is often cited as the worst poet in the history of English literature although he developed a cult following during the Victorian era. McGonagall sought prohibition rather than just advising men to limit their drinking: “But no matter what he thinks, I say nay,/For by taking it he helps to lead his brother astray,/Whereas, if he didn’t drink, he would help to reform society,/And we would soon do away with all inebriety.” We all laughed at McGonagall’s flailing rhythms, forced rhymes and simplistic ideas.

Hazel read Edward Arlington Robinson’s “Miniver Cheevy” which ends: “Miniver Cheevy, born too late,/Scratched his head and kept on thinking;/Miniver coughed, and called it fate,/And kept on drinking.” His drinking isn’t mentioned until the last word of the poem, but that twists our perception of everything that has gone before. Cheevy romanticizes the past and drinks away his future.

Gail read “The Café Filtre” by Paul Blackburn in which the narrator takes his time to eat a meal, sip his wine, feed and pet his cat. With the same persistence, he punctuates the meal by tamping down the lid of his filter-coffee maker to push the water through the grains. At the end of the meal and the poem “The coffee goes down at a gulp, it/is black/& lukewarm”, we are left with disappointment. Perhaps the poet is speaking of everyday life.

Mady read Emily Dickinson’s “I taste a liquor never brewed,” in which the narrator is drunk, not from alcohol, but from nature, “Inebriate of air—am I—/And Debauchee of Dew—/Reeling—thro’ endless summer days—/From inns of molten Blue—”.

Marilyn read “Autumn Note” by Langston Hughes which ends, “The cold of winter comes apace/And you have gone away.” This reminder of autumn’s melancholy definitely matched the weather outside.

AnnaLee completed our circle with Evelyn Duncan’s “Picking Up” in which the author recalls being surprised by her teetotaler mother, who, rather than waste food during the Depression, distills brandy from overripe pears to store in the basement. When her father finds an out-of-town job, and the family is packing to go, her mother, again not wanting to waste, gives the brew to the movers who become inebriated. Driving down the highway the family discovers, “lying in the road or ditch: first/the chamber pot and dress; next,/a chair, a bucket, and a box of sheets./But drunk with hope, we praised our luck,/sang ‘Bringing in the Sheaves’/as we collected what the truck had dropped.”

Merrie couldn’t join us, but emailed these familiar lines from the self-styled “Worsifier,” Ogden Nash:

Is dandy

But liquor
Is quicker.

… and Larry (an OPPC regular before he moved) posted a few poems on our blog, one “The Winos on Potrero Hill” from the 60s author Richard Brautigan.

You’ll find Brautigan’s poem as well as commentary and all things having to do with poetry on our blog at https://onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com .

Enjoy the holidays! We look forward to seeing you in 2015.

Spring 2015 Line Up:
February 10: Poems about every day things
March 10: Poetry and red
April 14: Lyric poetry
May 12: Poetry and health

Abigail Burnham Bloom and 
AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all.
St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.