Happy Hour

By Alan R. Shapiro b. 1952
The gregarious dark is shifting   
when she puts her second drink,   
the free one, half on the coaster.   
The tipped wine poised at the brim   
is the beginning of the bad girl   
she’ll promise never to be again   
tomorrow, who can taunt him now   
to prove he doesn’t love her
and never could: her hand slides   
up his thigh until he tenses—
‘My little prig, don’t you want   
to fuck me?’ the bad girl
she couldn’t be at home, his wife on ice.   
All he can do is smile back
as though she’s made a harmless   
good-natured joke, and struggle   
not to look around to see
who’s heard, who’s watching. He wants   
to smash the wine glass in her face   
so he can know for once
exactly what he’s done wrong;   
but he places it instead
back safely on the coaster
quickly before she sees.
Never cautious enough, he is prepared   
even if she knocks it over
to go down on his hands and knees   
and wipe it up, kind and forgiving.   
In all ways careful to acquit himself   
so that tomorrow when she says
she doesn’t deserve him, he’s too good,   
he can believe her. Tomorrow   
will be his happy hour. There won’t be   
anything she wouldn’t do for him.

Alan Shapiro, “Happy Hour” from Happy Hour (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1987). Copyright © 1987 by Alan Shapiro. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Selected Poems 1974-1996 (The University of Chicago Press, 2000)

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Poet Alan R. Shapiro b. 1952

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Marriage & Companionship, Love, Eating & Drinking, Living, Relationships, Activities, Break-ups & Vexed Love, Realistic & Complicated

 Alan R. Shapiro

Biography

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Alan Shapiro was educated at Brandeis University. As the author of numerous collections of poetry, Shapiro has explored family, loss, domesticity, and the daily aspects of people’s lives in free verse and traditional poetic forms. He has published over ten books of poetry, most recently Reel to Reel (2014); Night of the Republic (2012), a finalist for the National Book Award and the Griffin Prize; . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Marriage & Companionship, Love, Eating & Drinking, Living, Relationships, Activities, Break-ups & Vexed Love, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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