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LAUGHLIN, James



Ave atque vale*


I sat on the edge of the bed

and held his hand it was dry


and cold I squeezed the hand

but of course there was no re-


sponse they had dressed him

in one of his Scottish tweed


suits with the deer’s-horn

buttons on the side pockets


and put on the Princeton

(orange and black) tie I


had come to say goodbye I

was crying but suddenly my


sadness had changed to resent-

ment even to anger almost


to hatred why are you de-

serting me how dare you


leave me in my rage I

pulled up his shoulders


and shook him as hard as

I could I raised him


further and banged his head

against the pillow I want-


ed to make him open his eyes

how can you abandon me you


the one who loved me most.


* Hail and Farewell, Catullus 101



O Best of All Nights, Return and Return Again


How she let her long hair down over her shoulders, making a love cave around her face. Return and return again.

How when the lamplight was lowered she pressed against him, twining her fingers in his. Return and return again.

How their legs swam together like dolphins and their toes played like little tunnies. Return and return again.

How she sat beside him cross-legged, telling him stories of her childhood. Return and return again.

How she closed her eyes when his were open, how they breathed together, breathing each other. Return and return again.

How they fell into slumber, their bodies curled together like two spoons. Return and return again.

How they went together to Otherwhere, the fairest land they had ever seen. Return and return again.

O best of all nights, return and return again.



Experience of blood


I never knew there was so much blood

in a man until my son killed himself


he did it with a kitchen knife stab-

bing himself all over and cutting his


wrists then he got into the bathtub

and died there in the water that's


where we found him but could he have

changed his mind for a moment the floor


was a carpet of blood & blood was spat-

tered on the walls the basin was cov-


ered with blood did he stand there

looking at himself in the mirror still


wondering who he really was and then

went on with it I had to wipe away the


blood it took me four hours to do it

but I couldn't have asked anyone else


because after all it was my blood too.