A man of my acquaintance mailed George Bilgere’s very fine poem, “The Return of Odysseus,” to another man (also of my acquaintance), with its excellent description of how a household hero’s wrath is salved:
I slammed the door. I threw down my book bag
in this particular way I have perfected over the years
that lets my wife understand
the contempt I have for my enemies,
which is prodigious. And then with great skill
she built a gin and tonic
that would have pleased the very gods,
and with epic patience she listened
as I told her of my wrath, and of what I intended to do
to so-and-so, and also to what’s-his-name.
The other man mailed back Philip Levine’s “Gin,” which has an entirely different take on the spirit’s medicinal qualities:
lay our fifteenth birthdays,
acne, deodorants, crabs, salves,
butch haircuts, draft registration,
the military and political victories
of Dwight Eisenhower, who brought us
Richard Nixon with wife and dog.
Any wonder we tried gin.
I quite enjoyed being carbon copied on their correspondence!