You came alone and sat at the back of the room.
We gave each other a friendly hug
and chatted before the show. Your breath smelled
thinly of gin. “There are a lot of good poets,”
you said and smiled, by way of slant reply,
after I’d commended your performance.
It’s slant like that
that makes one
You didn’t introduce your poems,
just read them in a modulated tone—
hunkered down: a foreign correspondent in a war zone.
I wanted a book, you didn’t have one to sell.
We both had salvation in pieces we read.
I couched it
Salvia divinorum, as in the psychoactive plant.
You used the word straight-up—like you had earned it.