A Refusal to Mourn the Death, Possibly by Drink, of Dylan Thomas

His autopsy showed a fatty liver
and not, as some would have thought, a cinder.
There was note of pneumonia
complicit in his death,
but as with all the other autopsies before him
the cause was put down as life.

Outside the Chelsea Hotel some tut-tutted.
Life again, they said.
They knew the stories:
that with a dram or a sniff here or there,
him being a credit to Wales,
his kind tended to song.

It didn’t take much.

Rumor had it as many as five women
had a restraining order against him
for singing too close to the house,
and wandering in the fields in just his undies
mumbling synonyms for anthracite.

Anything could set him off —
grain instead of beer,
smoke instead of malt,
thin light on a cox.
He preferred a kind word
to a cruel joke,
a cruel word to a cliché.

He was a king, of course,
but not of column inches.
He traced his lineage to that obscure
Owain, Glaw, or Alun who, the stories say,
when the bows and the knives
were put away,
rose in front of the fire
and sang against the darkness.

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