Cocktails

Cocktails

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by D. A. Powell
     
 

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kids everywhere are called to supper: it's late it's dark and you're all played out. you want to go home

no rule is left to this game. playmates scatter like breaking glass they return to smear the ______. and you're it
--from "[you'd want to go to the reunion: see]"

In Cocktails, D. A. Powell closes his contemporary Divine Comedy with

Overview

kids everywhere are called to supper: it's late it's dark and you're all played out. you want to go home

no rule is left to this game. playmates scatter like breaking glass they return to smear the ______. and you're it
--from "[you'd want to go to the reunion: see]"

In Cocktails, D. A. Powell closes his contemporary Divine Comedy with poems of sharp wit and graceful eloquence born of the AIDS pandemic. These poems, both harrowing and beautiful, strive toward redemption and light within the transformative and often conflicting worlds of the cocktail lounge, the cinema, and the Gospels.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Powell recognizes in the contemporary the latest manifestations of a much older tradition: namely, what it is to be human . . . I admire these poems immensely, for their deftness with craft, their originality of vision, their ability to fuse old and new without devolving to gimmick-and for a dignity as jazzily inventive as it is sheer.” —Carl Phillips, from the citation for the 2001 Boston Review Poetry Contest

“Here is work that manages to be entirely of-the-moment while at every turn it announces (without preening over it) not merely an awareness, but an actual confidence with such prosodic traditions as the heroic couplet and the pentameter line, such cultural and literary traditions as those of the New Testament and of meaningfully comic punning. No fear, here, of heritage nor of music nor, refreshingly, of authority....I admire these poems immensely, for their deftness with craft, their originality of vision, their ability to fuse old and new without devolving to gimmick--and for a dignity as jazzily inventive as it is sheer.” —Carl Phillips, from the citation for the 2001 Boston Review Poetry Contest

“In Cocktails, D. A. Powell's lens for examining reality and society is fitted with a very modern filter-passionate wit.” —Carol Frost

Publishers Weekly
Powell's third, and best, book completes his much-talked-about trilogy about growing up gay and uneasy in the age of HIV-and about living with the virus himself. "Cocktails" signifies both drinks on the town and a mix of anti-AIDS drugs; the pun is the first of many effective (if showy) doublings, ambiguities and slippery phrases throughout the book, some brightly flirtatious, others grave indeed. Powell divides the volume into "mixology," "filmography" and "bibliography": the poems of the first part begin from scenes, songs and friends, the second appropriate famously queer-centric films, and the third rings changes on episodes from the New Testament. Powell can allude and evade with the best of them, but he shows equal skill in pleas from the heart: "listen mother, he punched the air: I am not your son dying"; "what's the use of being pretty if I won't get better?" As in Tea, Powell (who now teaches at Harvard) uses the ultra-long line he deployed for agile grammatical feints and leaps; these poems, however, show a greater range, and far more versatile use of old-school precedents (from the Gospels to Renaissance pastoral), skillfully mixed with pop culture of all kinds. In one ode, emulating Odysseus, Powell croons "a dusty springfield song" to "a scant crew of leukocytes/ who have not mutinied"; "the mermaids beckon from the cape." It is not a journey to miss. (Mar.) Forecast: Powell's debut, Tea, fired up a critical following, some of which found the follow-up, Lunch, disappointing. Cocktails, by contrast, should land him national awards. Its strong theme could also translate to considerable coverage outside the usual poetry venues; if that happens, look for very expanded sales. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555973957
Publisher:
Graywolf Press
Publication date:
03/01/2004
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
72
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 9.01(h) x 0.24(d)

Read an Excerpt

Cocktails


By D.A. Powell

Graywolf Press

Copyright © 2004 D.A. Powell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-55597-395-7


Chapter One

[the cocktail hour finally arrives: whether ending a day at the office] the cocktail hour finally arrives: whether ending a day at the office or opening the orifice at 6am [legal again to pour in californica]: the time is always right we need a little glamour and glamour arrives: plenty of chipped ice a green jurassic palm tree planted. a yellow spastic monkey swinging a pink classic flamingo impaled upon the exuberant read of cherries dash of bitters. vermouth sweet. enough rye whiskey to kill this longing: I take my drinks stiff and stuffed with plastic. like my lovers my billfold of rubbers. OPENs my mouth: its tiny neon lounge [college roommate gone: his hamper full. I'll do us both a favor] My Beautiful Launderette (1985, Stephen Frears, dir.) college roommate gone: his hamper full. I'll do us both a favor sorting his socks like demented wife. smoothing the pillowcase its callipygous dent splayed bonewhite: spluttered where I laid him what is a friend but a lover held at bay? we find our quarry want to tear each other: canines exposed. our leashes tangle grant us the safety of fenced-in yards: we worry the neighbors love is seldom a dull chore: I know how to fold his t-shirts how they smell before and after. washing and tumbling piggish delight the rooting after truffles. whiff and snout in his absence I build a model of him. clothed in white undies starched where he's starched and softened where he's soft I use his favorite bounce. bleach-free tide to hinder chafing in separate rooms we count on our fingers the passing hours we know the way each door swings open: how to find each other agitating in the dark: sheets snaps elastic and those clumsy buttons [listen mother, he punched the air: I am not your son dying] a stabat mater listen mother, he punched the air: I am not your son dying the day fads and the starlings roost: a body's a husk a nest of goodbye his wrist colorless and soft was not a stick of chewing gum how tell? well a plastic bracelet with his name for one. & no mint his eyes distinguishable from oyster show? only when pried open she at times felt the needle going in. felt her own sides cave. she rasped she twitched with a palsy: tectonic plates grumbled under her feet soiled his sheets clogged the yellow BIOHAZARD bin: later to be burned soot clouds billowed out over the city: a stole. a pillbox hat [smart city] and wouldn't the taxis stop now. and wouldn't a hush smother us all the vascular walls graffitied and scarred. a clotted rend in the muscle wend through the avenues throttled t-cells. processional staph & thrush the scourge the spike a stab a shending bile the grace the quenching mother who brought me here, muddler: open the window. let birds in

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Cocktails by D.A. Powell Copyright © 2004 by D.A. Powell. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author

D. A. Powell is the author of Tea and Lunch. He is Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Poetry at Harvard University.

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Cocktails 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Jordan_Hal More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome collection to have in one's own library. It brings the reader into an interesting world far from one's own. Everyone should own Powell works, along with Ohio Blue Tips by Jeanne E. Clark, The Photos In The Closet by Daniel E. Lopez, and works by Alison Townsend.