Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 17
Fall 2017

[Two Poems]

by Clint Margrave

In Our Twenties

Cigarettes were wonderful.
Drinking meant crazy. 
Girls felt glorious. 
Parents were distant 
and hadn’t died or fallen ill yet. 
Friends seemed plentiful. 
Music couldn’t be loud enough. 
Living with a lover 
was like playing house.   
Experience was urgent. 
Summers meant travel.
Nights seemed infinite. 
Hangovers ended quickly.      
Work was provisional
until our talents were discovered. 
Marriage was a life sentence.
Divorce, parole. 
Success was more inevitable than failing.   
Suicide seemed romantic.  
The world was in love with us.
We were in love with the world.
We swooned inside its magnificent blue form. 
We walked with lightness.
We even strutted. 
We thought we were invincible.
We thought we were old.


The Role of Art

Art is an introvert. 

At parties, it sticks to walls
nobody notices. 

When it speaks, 
it struggles to be heard.  

Like all who tell the truth, 
Art has few patrons, 

is always offending somebody.

Art is solitary, 

It is not communal. 

And when embraced too fully,
has a tendency
to crash things down. 

Not wishing to be known, 
not wishing to be liked, 
not wishing the acclaim of 
its more popular cousin, 

Art is an outcast,

whose only role 
is to protect its value, 
by doing everything for its own sake, 

and hoping that it matters.


—Both poems are reprinted here with Margrave’s permission from his book The Early Death of Men (NYQ Books, 2012), of which the late, great poet and SHJ editor Steve Kowit blurbed:

Clint Margrave writes high-octane poetry about such matters as finding his father’s brain stuffed in an envelope, the neighborhood woman who never stops crying, the kid with one eye and a paralyzed face whom no one wants to sit next to. Not poems about the great New Year’s Eve party but seductive, dead-ahead poems about the ordinary, unassuming second day of the year when “no one wants to quit smoking / or propose / or make promises they can’t keep.”
SHJ Issue 17
Fall 2017

Clint Margrave

is the author of Salute the Wreckage (2016) and The Early Death of Men (2012), both published by NYQ Books. His work has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, as well as in New York Quarterly, Rattle, Cimarron Review, Verse Daily, Word Riot, and Ambit (UK), among others. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury