In “GIN,” David St. John has very good images such as, “A body. A blanket stuffed with leaves/Or lengths or rope…” In the line, “Put down your newspaper. Look out,” the reader gets the feel that the character is sitting by a window or in front of a window. St. John is so descriptive about the people in the bar, it’s not just a person sitting there having a drink, but he’s surrounded by people as well, “The man beside you touching his odd face/…the woman stirring tonic/…down the bar the talks of divorce.” I find it interesting how he talks about a woman and describes her so well, “…walk around all day disgusting people/Until she was so drunk/…globe of gin broke in her hand.” St. John also writes humorous lines, “…your friends complain/You give up only the vaguest news/Even your stories/Have no point, just lots of detail.” There’s another good detail in this poem, “…leaving off the buttons as you’re sewing up the coat.”
In “Lucifer In Starlight,” the speaker talks about a friend, someone he knows, “a man I liked enormously/Saying to a mutual friend, a woman.” Again, St. John describes a woman, “a woman/Wearing a vest embroidered with scarlet and violet tulips.” He talks about Rome, the dark and the romantic-sensual side of it, “And it wasn’t that Rome’s darkness/No it was that this dark was the deep, sensual dark.” The second stanza it’s like another one of his stories of Rome where he mentions a woman, and drinking as his previous poem, “One night my friend Nico…/…As we drank a little wine.” The moments that the speaker had with “Nico” reminds him of Rome, “The way in Rome, out driving at night, she’d laugh as she let/Her head fall back…”
In “Last Night With Rafaella,” I noticed there’s always a woman in St. John’s poems. The speaker is always talking to a friend, or about a friend whose usually a woman, “…felt comfortable there, with Rafaella/Discussing these many important things…/The spiritual life, and my own.” I really like the way he describes a woman, very romantic and sensual, he elevates women–I love it, “I knew she was a sophisticated/Well-traveled woman.” Also, the lines, “To feel her tongue addressing your ear/Rafaella’s skin was/…damp as I ran my fingertip,” are very sensual. St. John is fascinated with women, it shows especially in the following lines, “And how could I not trust the advice/Of a woman who with the ball of her exquisite thumb/Carefully flared rouge along the white cheekbones/Of the most beautiful women in the world.” The following lines are so romantic, “Last night, as we lay in the dark/The windows of her bedroom open to the cypress/To the stars…/as she turned slowly in the moonlight,” beautiful romantic scene. I also like the fact that St. John lets his characters speak because we get to know them at a personal level. In this case, we get to spend more time with Rafaella, “Do you know how to tell a model?/In fashion, they wear tattoos…/Along their hips.” I like the repetition in the last stanza, “Like the frayed silk…/Like the spun…/Like a fragile…” There’s also drinking involved in this poem as the other ones, “Pouring myself a little wine…” After reading this poem, I wondered what happened to Romance…did it die or did we kill it? Aren’t there any romantic men out there anymore? If there are, where are they?!!