Monday, April 23, 2012

Poems I'd Save from the Fire: The Dream of the Red Drink by Barbara Hamby

During National Poetry Month, I'm highlighting some of my favorite poems in a series called "Poems I'd Save from the Fire." This is my fourth entry, so make sure to check out the other posts, if you haven't.

Today, I'm saving Barbara Hamby's poem "The Dream of the Red Drink" from her 1999 book The Alphabet of Desire. To be honest, this is probably one of my top ten favorite poems ever. It just gets me in the guts and I feel completely connected to the poem and the experience. I love the mixture of references, stories, and sharp observations in the poem. This is perhaps a great example of what I try to do in each poem I write, so it serves as an excellent model for me.

The poem is so great at capturing that almost magical feel you can have during a night of drinking at a party. It's this strange blurring of worlds and a feeling that you can almost see into people and into the future.

There's also amazing lines that make me laugh because I relate so much to them. For example, she writes:  "My husband is at this party, but I'm avoiding him / for a reason I can't really remember. / Oh, I remember, but it's too tedious to go into here. / I look at this man whom I love to distraction / and wonder how he can be so utterly dense, / and I know if I say anything, he will say / I've had too much to drink, which is entirely correct." I just love what she captures here about relationships.

"The Dream of the Red Drink" is a poem I can read over and over again and never tire. It's just wonderful.

-Stephen (Red with Drink)


  1. Stephen, Did I ever tell you that the red drink had LSD in it? I didn't find out until the poem was published and in the book, but when you see God and understand quantum mechanics, you gotta know that something other than alcohol is at work.

  2. I love this poem, too, and the whole alphabet. Whoa!! Seeing the message from Barbara is fascinating.