For the last poem in In Their Cups week 2010 (celebrating the release and release party this Sunday for In Their Cups and the drinking poems contained therein, as if you didn’t know), I wanted to highlight one of the two poems in book by Ed Skoog (I should mention though, that he also has translations in the book from three languages–you’ll have to look to find out which languages). Without Ed, In Their Cups would have been called “Cups with Holes” and been awfully leaky, cause he not only let me put poems and translations of his own in the book, but helped me track down more poems that made the cut and are in the book, gave advice on ordering of poems and sections, drank a lot with me during the putting together of the book, and was generally helpful in every way you can think of plus a few more you’d forgotten.
If you don’t know already, Ed is one of the best poets anywhere alive today–buy his book Mister Skylight and you will be changed–but is also a drink maker of some renown, a drink consumer of much renown, and a sweet banjo player to boot who can sing the high lonesome like few others (even after a few–let’s say 5-to-10–shots). If you ever are going into a bar for the long haul (which I’m guessing you will be, probably soon), bring him along. Or at least bring this poem of his about New Orleans’ Saturn Bar, a truly divine dive, along with you as an Ed sub.
The Last Saturn Bar Poem
Around the art barn, Mike Frolich’s bar-tab
bartered paintings hang the hell that rose with him
from the Gulf of Mexico floor too fast, torturing
blood with air: maniac fish, demon in a diving bell,
and then from cadmium sunset through marsh comes
the boat bearing forward in grand roving the name
O’Neal, our bartender. Theirs are the dreams we enter,
entering the Saturn Bar’s owly heat re-tooled for unlovely
loss, the rattled corner leaning away from Chartreuse, neat,
and when I’m able to dream jukebox damaged warbling,
a Saturn-like-thing opens within me, but this is the last
Saturn Bar poem–I’ll try, I’ll try–to stop singing
shadows of St. Claude and Clouet on security camera
pavement grays we keep talking about with increasing
reluctance, ready to move on to fresh bewilderments,
spiraling neon, neon that lights up my nameless shot.
—The Last Saturn Bar Poem, Ed Skoog