Katherine Kavanaugh Doud
(after reading a biography of Dylan Thomas)

Before the ten oclock bar call;
before the bitter pints
lined up like lost years
along the knotted tabletop;
before the fist-thumping
and the story-telling
and the long ropes of snot
he wiped along one grimy thumb
like an aside;
there was the one beneficent hour
in the boathouse at Laugharne;
the two lines of Milk Wood
he would exhume each day
from the great white drifts
of foolscap curling beneath his shoes;
two lines a day,
two lines of shook foil
before the Guinness and the lust
turned lucidity into oblivion
and old Dylan tipped his ragged cap
to the darkness
that settled plumply around him
like a mistress. Two lines
are all he exacted from his brilliance;
twin victories that washed against
his querulous mind, soft as water,
tender as the waves that broke each morning
against the boat house door.

Katherine Kavanaugh Doud is a journalist based in Kalamazoo, Mich. Her feature writing has been honored by the Michigan Press Association and the National Newspaper Association. This poem is one of three runners-up in the 2007 Foley Poetry Contest.

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