David Yezzi’s poem “The Good News” was published in Poetry magazine and appears in his new book, Azores. It was inspired by an evening when I stopped by his Manhattan home after working late at an antiquarian book fair. We had a few scotches, as we often do, shot the breeze about poetry and the politics of the poetry business, and I then I cleared off back to my hotel suite for some sleep. He doesn’t remember who had the good news, and, honestly, neither do I. It could have been either one of us. Still, I think it’s a hell of a poem. Buy the book by clicking on the cover below.
The Good News, by David Yezzi
A friend calls, so I ask him to stop by.
We sip old Scotch, the good stuff, order in,
some Indian—no frills too fine for him
or me, particularly since it’s been
ages since we made the time.
Two drinks in, we’ve caught up on our plans.
I’ve sleepwalked through the last few years by rote;
he’s had a nasty rough patch, quote-unquote,
on the home front. So, we commiserate,
cupping our lowballs in our hands.
It’s great to see him, good to have a friend
who feels the same as you about his lot—
that, while some grass is greener, your small plot
is crudely arable, and though you’re not
so young, it’s still not quite the end.
As if remembering then, he spills his news.
Though I was pretty lit, I swear it’s true,
it was as if a gold glow filled the room
and shone on him, a sun-shaft piercing through
dense clouds, behind which swept long views.
In that rich light, he looked, not like my friend
but some acquaintance brushed by on the train.
Had his good fortune kept me from the same,
I had to wonder, a zero sum game
that gave the night its early end?
Nothing strange. Our drinks were done, that’s all.
We haven’t spoken since. By morning, I
couldn’t remember half of what the guy
had said, just his good news, my slurred goodbye,
the click of the latch, the quiet hall.