We drank our faces off until the sun arrived,
Night after night, and most of us survived
To waft outside to sunrise on Second Avenue,
And felt a kind of Wordsworth wonderment—the morning new,
The sidewalk fresh as morning dew—and us new, too.
How wonderful to be so magnified.
Every Scotch-and-soda had been usefully applied.
You were who you weren’t till now.
We’d been white Harvard piglets sucking on the whisky sow
And now we’d write a book, without having to know how.
If you didn’t get a hangover, that was one kind of bad
And was a sign of something, but if you had
Tranquilizers to protect yourself before you went to work,
Say as a doctor interning at nearby New York Hospital, don’t be a jerk,
Take them, take loads of them, and share them, and don’t smirk.
We smoked Kools, unfiltered Camels, and papier maïs Gitanes,
The fat ones Belmondo smoked in Breathless—and so did Don,
Elaine’s original red-haired cokehead maître d’
Who had a beautiful wife, dangerously.
But stay away from the beautiful wife or else catastrophe.
Many distinguished dead were there
At one of the front tables, fragrant talk everywhere.
Plimpton, Mailer, Styron, Bobby Short—fellows, have another drink.
You had to keep drinking or you’d sink.
Smoking fifty cigarettes a day made your squid-ink fingers stink.
Unlucky people born with the alcoholic gene
Were likely to become alcoholics. Life is mean
That way, because others who drank as much or more didn’t
Succumb, but just kept on drinking—and didn’t
Do cocaine, and didn’t get fucked up, and just didn’t!
The dead are gone—
Their thousand and one nights vanished into dawn.
Were they nothing but tubs of guts, suitably gowned, waiting around
Till dawn turned into day? Last round!
Construction of the new Second Avenue subway enters the ground.
Aldrich once protested to Elaine that his bill for the night was too high.
She showed him his tab was for seventeen Scotches and he started to cry.
(Or was it eighteen?)
We were the scene.
Now the floor has been swept clean.
Elaine and Elaine’s have vanished into the dawn.
Elaine the woman, who weighed hundreds of pounds, is floating around—
Her ghost calls out: Last round!
Wailing, construction of the new Second Avenue subway pounds the ground.