Guest poem sent in by Terry Smith
(Poem #435) Tell Her That I Fell
Woke me retching and alone. Within doom booze her arms around me again in wished-for honeymoon time that never happened. Wait now to become ashes and am so sorry. Stagger now, shaking for what I'm running on. But it takes a few to get started these days, face gouged by razor unable fingers hold and each step away from where a bar is near makes me feel certain I'm going to drop dead. Each morning now is terror. The bathroom mirror reflects earthworms have not a long wait to pick me clean. My toothpaste mouthwash is a breakfast of liquor, so is all day and every complete night. Took her once in the snow the seacoast near, vivid like if bright red blood was blue. Afterward when she stood up the bare spot we melted was like two halves of a pear. I know she is in a Fishing Village now with many babies. The boats go out each morning before sunup breaks through salt fog and come in long after dark, just to make ends meet. Maybe he is good to her in his clumsy understanding I hope so, but never sure in his mind. Furiously suspicious at any man's glance at her eternally looking for whoever I am directly into the face of each tourist who comes into town. How it frustrates him, unable to find and strangle me who is always the wedge between his best effort, and he is so strong, sea life hardened. Wake me these days retching then, all right just tell her that I fell. My happiness time was with her, been any kind of a man I would have carried her like a knapsack away and felt her feet slapping my thighs. Come on, death, I fear to wobble the few steps to you.
Alcoholism, the hardness of sea coast men, the difficulty of making ends meet fishing and lobstering, the haunting of ancient memories and regret for inaction are common themes in Leo Connellan's "Maine Poems", which he told me at a University of Maryland reception he was glad to see published here at the end of his life. He read this and several other poems in an harsh, aged voice at a poetry conference last April. He seemed to accept applause as a sort of burden, some cruel necessity of the situation. Afterwards he talked wistfully with me about his hobo days. This poem struck me as a portrait of the poet, or an amalgamation of men very close to him, written in a drink-addled voice that moves from memory to memory in a stream of broken consciousness. It's a good poem to read aloud, but my voice always breaks on the last two lines. Leo Connellan has been the poet laureate of Connecticut since 1996. "Once the idea is clear, get rid of excess words... The poem will be done when it is. But the minute you have to explain it you're writing prose." -L.C. from the introduction to "Maine Poems", Blackberry Books, Maine