Two Poems

Donald Hall

The Reception

        When we reached the getaway car
after the reception, I
        found my ushers gathered
to decorate the green Oldsmobile
        the usual way – with Just Married,
pieplates, ribbons, and straw.
        I was furious. I rushed
forward to kick Al who padlocked
        tire chains to an axle, then swung
at Dan who sprayed silver paint.
        When my friends understood
that I was drunk or crazy – drunk and
        crazy – they stepped back. We headed
towards the airport, Just Married,
        my bride relentlessly
and appropriately blubbering
        beside me who grumbled
in continuous outrage as we
        started our fifteen-year
journey towards divorce. Allan Blodgett
        and Dan Gold are dead now;
soon the rest of the wedding party.

The Advocate

        On the Advocate in nineteen-
forty-eight, we argued all
        night about whether a poem
was good enough for us. John
        Ashbery sat in a corner
shelling pistachio nuts;
        Robert E. Bly wore a three-
piece suit and a striped tie; Kenneth
        Koch was always sarcastic.
Once as we pasted an issue
        together we discovered a blank
page and teased Ashbery
        to give us a poem. John
disappeared to Dunster House. When
        he dawdled back
with his poem about fortunate Alphonse,
        we admired it and pasted it up.
Later he admitted
        that he had returned to his study
and his Olivetti
        to write us the poem. When I told him
the story forty
        years later, John laughed. ‘Yes,’ he said,
sighing. ‘I took longer then.’