Who Live by the Word

Drunk, yes, too often
but drinking was what their crowd did
and then they could go on
all night long quoting
the dead poets they loved
and reading their latest each to each.

As long as the spark flared
and the words came in a tumbling rush
then the world could be forgotten
poverty, attempts to earn in jobs
that harnessed their nervous minds
to a yoke of dull misery.

But when the flow slowed
or stopped, first briefly, in warning,
then for longer and longer spans
presaging the loss of all
then drink and hope and life itself
gave up and jumped.

Lari Smith

after reading Poets in Their Youth by Eileen Simpson