I really liked your reading last night

Winter, 2020–21 / No. 46

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 

feel disclosed. 

You didn’t introduce your poems, 

just read them in a modulated tone—

“I” embedded, 

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.