Thinking of Martins Ferry and James Wright on St. Paddy’s Day

Funny what we remember
When we’ve had too many snoots
More than our share
At Dutch Henry’s Bar in Martins Ferry

Not the kind of place Zagat’s would ever rate
Let alone a place you’d tell your mother about
Unless of course, you grew up in Martins Ferry
Where James Wright and I were born

James is gone, now thirty years, can you believe it?
So it’s entirely up to me
To tell the story my own way
But certainly, in a way James would approve

Dutch Henry’s was a working man’s bar
A place steelworkers and coal miners drank
And brewed stories they hoped
Would set straight their broken, exasperated lives

It was also a place they bragged
Even about their overweight intellectual sons
Who’d never survive a Friday night in autumn in Martins Ferry
Where all that mattered was Purple Rider football

James never spoke above a whisper at Dutch Henry’s
He knew the pain one drunk could impose on another
Without remorse, or even the slightest regard
For poetry, Plato, or even uselessly expensive Scotch

Nothing very special about the place
Other than the exceedingly ordinary people there
Who removed their masks once in a while
And played themselves in real life

Only twice did I overlap with James Wright at Dutch Henry’s
Both times his smile out-lasted mine
And both times, he drank me under the table
In long beers, bruising shots, and unrehearsed words

I was no match for Martins Ferry’s first poet son
Yes, Minnegan’s faithful eulogist
Martins Ferry’s best-ever poet, and a man
Whose silence will always speak louder than my best words

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About Don Iannone

Don Iannone is a poet, writer, teacher and photographer who lives in the Greater Cleveland area. He has worked in the economic development field for over 35 years. Don is the author of three poetry books and five photography books. He is working on a short book of photographs and poems about human trafficking. This work was exhibited at six venues in Ohio. Don holds an M.A. degree in Art and Consciousness Studies from the University of Philosophical Research in Los Angeles, where he teaches writing. His educational background also includes studies in Anthropology, Photography, Organizational Behavior, and Economic Development. Don’s website: http://www.donaldiannone.com Wisdom Work Press: https://wisdomworkpress.wordpress.com

One thought on “Thinking of Martins Ferry and James Wright on St. Paddy’s Day

  1. And to think that I can say that I actually knew both Don Iannone and Minnegan… and there’s a certain symmetry and alliteration to Iannone and Minnegan, too….

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