The Young Good Man by James Wright

The young good man walked out savoring
His own tongue instead of the lips
Of the wild crab apple.
You will believe this,
But there used to be places just on the other side
Of Cadiz, Ohio, where you could slip in
Without anybody knowing
And find them sweet.
Everybody I knew, loved, and respected
Like Charlie Duff, my cousin Dave,
George Ellis, Gene Turner from Bellaire
Who tackled me twice, and even I swear to Christ
John Shunk the one man all the way from Pittsburgh
To Cincinnati who knew how to use
A diving suit and who got his name
In the newspapers all the time for
Dragging up the drowned boys
Said leave them crab apples alone,
They taste so bitter you pucker
Two days at least.  You bite one,
You’ll be sorry.
I don’t know why,
One evening in August something illuminated my body
And I got sick of laying my cold
Hands on myself.
I lied to my family I was going for a walk uptown.
When I got to that hill,
Which now, I hear, Bluehart has sold to the Hanna
Strip Mine Company, it was no trouble at all to me.
Within fifteen yards of his charged fence I found me
A wild crab apple.
I licked it all over.
You are going to believe this.
It tasted sweet.
I know what would have happened to my tongue
If I had bitten.  The people who love me
Are sure as hell no fools.
You and I could not have been simple married lovers.
There are so many reasons I can’t count them,
But here are some few:                                                            
You are much more intelligent and learned than I am.
I have a very quick felicity of tongue.
Sooner or later I would have bitten your heart
With some snide witty remark or other.
And you wouldn’t stand for it.                                                
Our lives being what we are,
We didn’t have a chance.
I wish we had had.
I have written this poem to you before I die.
And I don’t mean to die                                                          
For some good time yet.
This poem probably wouldn’t have stuck out to me, except for the last third (which I bolded, just to draw attention to its awesomeness). I don’t know about anyone else, but I can certainly empathize with that feeling, the wishfulness while knowing “We didn’t have a chance.”
But that’s life, isn’t it?
p.s. There are line breaks that separate the 1, 2, and 3 into smaller stanzas but, try as I might, I can’t get them in there. So, sorry about that.

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