Mark Thalman

The Long Walk Home

                                    for Richard Hugo

Tonight, in the Milltown Union Bar,
the customers are raising glasses
with your name on their lips.

Dick, we knew you were sick.  
At the symposium you took a handful of pills
when you thought no one was looking.

After giving up cigarettes, you traded your addiction
for ice cream.  A mixing bowl full
was the right size to kill the craving.

Then you appeared in
Life Magazine
wearing a hospital gown and boxer shorts!
(Elegies are always so damn bad except for Roethke's.)

The day before you died, you dialed the Stafford's.
Bill wasn't there, so you told Dorothy you were working
on your sandals for the long walk home.

Mark Thalman is the author of Catching the Limit, Fairweather Books (2009).  His poetry has been widely published for almost four decades.  His work has appeared in Carolina Quarterly, CutBank, Pedestal Magazine, and Verse Daily among others.  He received his MFA from the University of Oregon, and has been teaching English in the public schools for 28 years.  Thalman is the editor of featuring regional and national poets.  For more information please visit



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