Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Duncan McNaughton

Cook's Hill

The bus let him off at the end of Parish Road
he walked past our house every night of the week

it was a dry town, working men
who wanted a drink had to go down to The Falls

and some women, they all had to get the last bus
up Central Ave.

He's drunk, ain't he?
No, my mother said, he's not drunk.

He doesn't drink any more, my father
said, not like he used to. Once in a while

he'll take a drink but that's all.
He walks like a drunk.

No, my father said, Charlie used to be an alky
but he walks like that because he was burnt.

You can't see it, my mother said, unless you get close
to his hands, but his legs

and part of his body are burned. He
can't help but walk that way.

He fell asleep smoking, my father said, the mattress
caught fire. Murray saved his life.

Saved the house too.
That's what makes him limp so.

He's a nice man, my mother said. He was always
a nice man, even when he was drinking.

They both are, those two,
they don't bother anybody.

from Valparaiso
(Listening Chamber, 1995)

photo :

Down from his hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, Duncan McNaughton wrote his first poem in Provincetown in 1961. Fifty years later he's going strong. There seems a conscientious pacing and rhythm between books; I recommend each one. The Poetics Program at the New College of San Francisco well remembers his contribution, as well as other Bay area events, in Europe, and his work in the mimeo generation as editor of both Fathar and Mother.