I am riding a Greyhound bus
from Memphis to Nashville,
concerned about the integrity
of my coffee cup,
which slowly leaks eighteen-year-old
a gift from my wife's publisher
for debuting at number one
on the New York Times Bestseller List.
She rides a jet in first class and is
almost already in Nashville.
It is 9:12 am.
My wife is not yet thirty years old.
I am thirty-seven.
It was lucky I was late.
I got an emptier bus.
So many travel this route
on Fridays an overflow coach is required.
I exceed, I am too much.
Here's my problem: if I drink
the entire bottle of scotch
it will shock my wife,
and it will be rather selfish,
though her publisher only sent this brand
because he and I drank it together
as my wife sipped Riesling,
making everybody money.
There are other problems.
I have lost a library book
I need for my dissertation.
It contains ingenious marginalia
that might have made me famous
for something other than athletic drinking.
In Memphis we stayed at the Peabody,
the South's Grand Hotel.
Everyone was hammered.
That was the dress code.
Now, in carpeted seats behind me,
black youths debate the virtues
of the Bonaroo Music Festival.
I thought only fools liked jam bands;
I thought blacks could not be fools.
I am a snob on a Greyhound,
sipping scotch from a disintegrating cup.
I am famous for drinking.
This is a limousine.
The driver carries a chauffeur's license.
The bus is now mostly empty,
but we will take on other riders
who will frustrate our expectations
as we have frustrated
anyone who has loved us
to be surprised.