RedRoom has asked us to blog on luck this week. Here are poems from two writers who find luck where others might despair. This poem, posted posthumously in the New Yorker in 1988, within weeks of Raymond Carver’s death from lung cancer, relates how very lucky he felt:
No other word will do. For that's what it was.Gravy.
Gravy, these past ten years.
Alive, sober, working, loving, and
being loved by a good woman. Eleven years
ago he was told he had six months to live
at the rate he was going. And he was going
nowhere but down. So he changed his ways
somehow. He quit drinking! And the rest?
After that it was all gravy, every minute
of it, up to and including when he was told about,
well, some things that were breaking down and
building up inside his head. "Don't weep for me,"
he said to his friends. "I'm a lucky man.
I've had ten years longer than I or anyone
expected. Pure Gravy. And don't forget it." In another New Yorker poem, published over fifty years earlier (March, 1935), Scott Fitzgerald shows thanks for his somewhat mutually-destructive relationship with Zelda, when she was in a Sanatorium after writing competitive narratives of their relationship; hers was Save Me The Waltz; his was Tender is the Night. Yet he considers himself lucky, which he describes in the poems’ powerful last quatrain:Lamp in a Window Yet he considers himself lucky, which he describes in the poems’ powerful last quatrain:
Lamp in a Window
Do you remember, before keys turned in the locks,
When life was a closeup, and not an occasional letter,
That I hated to swim naked from the rocks
While you liked absolutely nothing better?
Do you remember many hotel bureaus that had
Only three drawers? But the only bother
Was that each of us stubbornly, got mad
Trying to give the third one to the other.
East, west, the little car turned, often wrong
Up an erroneous Alp, an unmapped Savoy river.
We blamed each other, wild were our words and strong,
And, in an hour, laughed and called it liver.
And, though the end was desolate and unkind:
To turn the calendar at June and find December
On the next leaf; still, stupid-got with grief, I find
These are the only quarrels that I can remember.
Causes Kevin Arnold Supports
Poetry Center San Jose, East Palo Alto Police Activities League (EPA PAL), Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Yale Writing Conference, Gold Rush Writers