Whenever we met, Alan would gift me
with the latest collection of short stories
he’d found while browsing used bookstores.
Whenever we met, it was for one purpose only.
Alan used to call it a drinky-poo,
and when we had them we’d have
a few more than just a few.
Finally, he’d say, toss that flask away, man,
alcohol’s doing nothing for us of any good.
Imbibing excessively – we’d swear as we’d quit again –
only caused our gray cells to fall flat on their faces,
and if they rose at all, for sure they did not shine,
the remainder of the day spent groping for some dog’s hair.
One night we float, drinky-pooed up University Avenue
from relapsing in Chuck’s Mo‘ili‘i, and at the stoplight
he begins to recite some kind of poem or story.
Swaying, he asks me if I recognize the piece.
I, swaying, listen more carefully as he continues.
And then it hits me; he’s reciting a story of mine.
It’s mine! I shout, amazed that he’s done this
for no reason other, I’d guess, than that he likes it.
At the end of it all, I realized he was testing the water,
tip-toeing to the river of no recollection’s edge
opening up before him, all of it churning cold and ice black.
And I was astonished even more at his remembering of me,
just before memory took its leave to that place far away,
barking blindly across Styx for a drink of dog’s hair again.