Monday, April 16, 2012

National Poetry Month: Steven Maurer

from "Cheap Wine"
(Steven Maurer)

... I found this wine store in London
and the Spanish owner wanted to teach me things.
He'd pour a glass and talk about "reach"
and "bouquet" and subtleties.
But he gave up after a few months.
He said he enjoyed my company
because I carried no pretensions
And would probably find what I wanted in life.
"It is an immense gift to know yourself," he said.
And he wanted me to know
that he was not trying to insult me,
"But you like cheap wine."
He told me that if the light passed through a bottle
in a nice way,
Or if the bottle just felt right in my hand,
Or even if I just liked the painting on the label,
Then I should just buy it.

This same time abroad
I knew these Australian oil workers
And one night we stepped into this wine bar
where the sophistication was palpable.
The air was cool and the walls
were covered with racks,
This was clearly a place where people
demonstrated their cultural sensibilities.
Some didn't even name their libation,
They might just say a year or a title,
And the bartender would pour
without even talking.
Phil, our leader, pulled out a pound note,
waved it over his head and yelled
"Come on, mate, give me three glasses
of your cheapest red wine in the house!"
I was mortified,
But hysterical.
The glasses were so thin that the stem
broke in my hand.
The server just glared.
"You'll need another one," said Phil.
It was not the best wine in the house
But it was a great night.

Back in America one evening some years later
I was working out on a leather bag
And this woman who was exercising nearby
asked if she could take a couple shots at me.
I said, "You want to hit me?"
"Yes," she said.
"Well, go ahead then," I said.
She didn't have gloves and was fast
and quickly clipped me three or four times.
We met outside and went back to her place.
She had this wine that was so red it was blue.
It was a gallon jug that had been left over
from a party where no one would drink it.
She poured it into beer mugs filled with ice.
You could see the colors separating
on the side of the glass.
The label said it was made from fruit.
We had sex
and then sat outside on a stoop in South Philly
with the bridge to New Jersey in clear view all lit up
And I noticed that the mugs left rings of condensation
on the cement steps.
It was the best wine I ever had in my life.

STEVEN MAURER is a lifelong resident of Philadelphia with an interest in gardening, music, and writing, as well as the poetry of Charles Olson. Although he still enjoys cheap wine, visitors have been known to be served stronger stuff and extraordinarily sturdy conversation until late. He prefers reading poetry on paper or hearing it in performance, and is unpublished online until now. His first privately-printed collection is Wild Dogs.

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