September 16, 2020KR OnlinePoetry

Drink Now; A Curse

Drink Now

The oncologist says my friend Paul
will need a total gastrectomy “if he’s lucky”—

Paul the most kind of us, Paul the most eloquent
lover of food and drink I’ve ever known,

who taught me about Barolo and Barbaresco,
about Burgundian Pinot and the sunbaked clay soil

of the Côte-Rôtie—and who will die now at forty
or else survive as never again the same Paul

once the endoscope has snaked down his throat,
once the surgeons have cut out his stomach

and sectioned his esophagus, and sutured it back
to whatever is left of the small intestine—I’m sorry,

if you’re still reading this, but there’s no happy ending,
no plot twist in which he “fights it” and “beats it”

and “wins”—sorry, whoever you are, in whatever
future you’ve found us, but Paul and I also

once lived: once gossiped and boozed
and so loved the world that we, too, were almost convinced

it might last without end: our eyes shining just like yours,
like delirious kids, when we used to laugh

into the glorious, now and forever,
lost eyes of our beautiful friends.

 

A Curse

When the last of your friends
not dead begin dying

and every window in the brain’s
dark cathedral

is lit by the flames,
may you read this alone

in some hip coffee shop,
or packed subway car,

or at the deafening bar
of a starred restaurant,

the names of old loves
a faint tremor on your tongue,

drowned by the laughter
of the beautiful young.