Friday, 17 August 2012

Hearing Ted Hughes at Plunkenworth’s

Our friend dropped in again,
the one who always says
he's met some rather famous poets,
like Billy Collins, Seamus Heaney,
Mary Oliver,
boasting he's taken them out for beer,
that in their drunken state
they've read his work
and said it was the best damn thing
they've ever seen on paper.

It's been difficult to prove him a liar,
authors and their tours
have coincided with his claims
but this time he was sloppy,
saying he'd heard Ted Hughes
last night, at Plunkenworth's,
the run-down, downtown gallery
that exhibits skateboard
art and molds of vomit
by its barely-on-its-hinges
front door.

He's been dead for over a decade,
we said, snickering, knowing we finally
found the lie,
that he'd admit it's been a charade,
the name-dropping, the tales
of autographed books
(that we've never been allowed
to see).

But he didn't blink an eye,
unfazed, undaunted in his delivery,
saying that Ted had read
a dozen new poems,
one about Plath,
how he would have rushed
to save her,
turn off the oven,
inhaled the toxic fumes
if he only could,
calling it "Sylvie's Stove"
and we corrected him,
saying it was Sylvia, not Sylvie
and he said no,
that was an affectionate name
he had for her, very French
as he really loved the language,

that he'd come back from the grave
just to read it,

even if but a single person
listened, believed
that he was sorry,

that the dead
could be so sorry.

Andreas Gripp