You’re My Thrill

as sung by Helen Merrill (1965)

1.

You’re my thrill,
my joint, my shot, my magic pill.

I dwell in that gaudy den
of smoke and mirrors where, when

you close my eyes,
I take a trip

to paradise:
a casino where I always win

as long as I’m within
the grip

of the labyrinthine dream I’m in.
I may never get wise,

may never disbelieve these lies.
Yet I know I must get high.

2.

Admit it. You’re one of us.
You didn’t miss the bus.

You need to get drunk
on wine or weed or stronger junk.

Maybe you’re addicted to kinky sex,
bouncing your checks,

blaming your ex,
imitating Oedipus Rex.

Or maybe you need a fix
of speed, acid, ecstasy, sin,

coke, angel dust, gin,
or the white magic of heroin.

You know it’s true
and you know who.

“You’re my thrill. . .
Where’s my will?”

To you therefore I repeat
the sweet

immortal words of Charles Baudelaire,
and declare,

drink in hand, bidding you goodbye:
you must get high.

David Lehman

David Lehman

David Lehman presides over the "Next Line, Please" poetry challenges that appear on The American Scholar's digital edition. Lehman's new books are Playlist, a poem in multiple parts written on the daily installment plan from Nov 20, 2017 to Jan 15, 2018, and One Hundred Autobiographies: A Memoir, which Cornell University Press will publish in October 2019. That's a lot of dates for one sentence to bear, but it's worth noting that Playlist (Pittsburgh) is an homage to the late A. R. Ammons, my neighbor and friend in Ithaca, New York. Besides Archie, the subjects of Playlist include love, friendship, and music, in particular the jazz, classical, and popular music to which I was listening as I wrote.
David Lehman

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Author: David Lehman

David Lehman presides over the "Next Line, Please" poetry challenges that appear on The American Scholar's digital edition. Lehman's new books are Playlist, a poem in multiple parts written on the daily installment plan from Nov 20, 2017 to Jan 15, 2018, and One Hundred Autobiographies: A Memoir, which Cornell University Press will publish in October 2019. That's a lot of dates for one sentence to bear, but it's worth noting that Playlist (Pittsburgh) is an homage to the late A. R. Ammons, my neighbor and friend in Ithaca, New York. Besides Archie, the subjects of Playlist include love, friendship, and music, in particular the jazz, classical, and popular music to which I was listening as I wrote.