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The Good News

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                      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.

Source: Poetry (June 2007)

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

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The Good News

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  • David Yezzi’s poetry collections include Azores (2008) and The Hidden Model (2003), and his criticism and poetry have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, and Best American Poetry. A former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, Yezzi is Executive Editor of The New Criterion. He has also edited The Swallow Anthology of New American Poetry (2009). His libretto for a chamber opera by composer David Conte, Firebird Motel, premiered in 2003 and was released on CD by Arsis (2007). Poet-critic Adam Kirsch, who selected Azores as one of Slate’s Best Books of 2008, noted that Yezzi’s poetry “displays a civilized mastery reminiscent of Philip Larkin and Donald Justice, which no poet of his generation can match.” David Yezzi is a graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University and received his MFA from Columbia University.

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