Having “Having a Coke with You” with You

By Mark Leidner

You asked me if I knew the poem “Having a Coke with You”
I said I vaguely remembered it but didn’t really
so you recited it in its entirety. We were walking
from somewhere up by City Hall down toward South Street
and the whole time you were reciting it I was wondering
“Was that the last line of the poem?” after each line
and each time I thought that, I thought it even more
because as the poem got longer the fact that you were reciting it
from memory became incrementally harder to believe
until about two-thirds of the way through the poem
I stopped thinking about how long it was and just started listening
which I had been, but only a little, because of all that. Anyway
then I started listening to it completely, believing
the poem itself to be the sole reason you were reciting it
but as soon as you finished you started to talk about how
you used to think that that poem was just about how
liberatingly banal being in love with someone was
but then you said you’d started to think more recently
it was more about the idiocy of caring about art at all
when you could spend all that energy caring about someone
you loved instead, and you said you were wondering where
I stood on that question now that I had heard the poem
and I was as struck by the question as I was stunned
that you could so casually recite such a long good poem
and that you hadn't even recited it primarily to solicit
appreciation for your recitation so much as to ask
what I thought about what you had thought about it
then, versus how you thought about it now, and this was
when I knew I wanted to be with you forever.

Reprinted from Returning the Sword to the Stone (Fonograf Editions, 2021). Reprinted with the permission of the publisher.