Breakfast with Thom Gunn

By Randall Mann Randall Mann

in memory, 1929-2004

We choose a cheap hotel
because they’re serving drinks.
We drink. I hear him tell
a tale or two: he thinks
that so-and-so’s a sleaze;
and then there was the time
that Milosz phoned, oh please.
Another gin with lime?
I want to say that once,
I saw him dressed in leather,
leaning on a fence
inside a bar. Rather,
walking to the N,
I gush about his books;
he gives his change to men
who’ve lost their homes and looks:
how like him, I’ve been told.
Our day together done,
I hug him in the cold.
And then the train is gone.

Randall Mann, "Breakfast with Thom Gunn" from Breakfast with Thom Gunn. Copyright © 2009 by Randall Mann.  Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.

Source: Breakfast with Thom Gunn (The University of Chicago Press, 2009)

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Poet Randall Mann


Subjects Living, Growing Old, Activities, Eating & Drinking, Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

Poetic Terms Elegy, Rhymed Stanza

 Randall  Mann


Randall Mann’s poems are often set within the landscape of Florida or California. Influenced by Philip Larkin, Elizabeth Bishop, and Donald Justice, Mann’s poetry—at once vulnerable, unflinching, and brave in its ambivalence—explores themes of loss, attraction, brutality, and expectation. Of his preference for working in form, Mann says, “Form helps me approach more comfortably the personal, helps me harden argument.”

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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