Intimacy / is like hard liquor.

J.V. Cunningham: Interview With Doctor Drink

I have a fifth of therapy
In the house, and transference there.
Doctor, there’s not much wrong with me,
Only a sick rattlesnake somewhere

In the house, if it be there at all,
But the lithe mouth is coiled. The shapes
Of door and window move. I call.
What is it that pulls down the drapes?

Disheveled and exposed? Your rye
Twists in my throat: intimacy
Is like hard liquor. Who but I
Coil there and squat, and pay your fee?

This is the second poem from the sequence “Doctor Drink” (1950). It’s taken from the marvelously edited The Poems of J.V. Cunningham. It’s a slim book that contains all of Cunningham’s poems and they are all amazing. Cunningham is one of the best poets of his time, and yet not nearly well enough known.

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