The Alchemist Review

Doriane Laux’s “Second Hand Coat”


Poem: Second Hand Coat
Poet: Doriane Laux
Magazine: Blip
Blogger: D. Glazebrook

I was first drawn to this poem because of the title.  I expected it to be about a coat that was found at a thrift store.  I was completely wrong but I liked the poem because of how strange it is.

It’s about a woman who meets a man at the beach, goes home with him hours later, then sleeps with him.  She finds out that his wife committed suicide in the bed that they’re laying in and it doesn’t seem to phase her.  The man gives the woman’s mother a plant from his house and gives the woman a coat that belonged to his wife.  The man seems pretty wealthy since the coat he gave away was described as having a cashmere lining and when the woman got pizza sauce on the sheets he said he would just “use it for packing”.  The relationship between the man and woman is pretty much all based around sex.  At the end of the poem, the lady moves on and meets a guy named Sam and does the same thing all over again with him.

It seems like both the man and woman are both “lost” souls.  The woman seems insecure and just needs guys around to show her attention; “giving my body away like bread”.  It’s obviously not a big deal for her to sleep around and insinuated that she does this often.  The man seems like he may be depressed after losing his wife because he just keeps giving away all of her stuff and took down all photos of her.  The man and woman would just eat in bed and smoke cigarettes.  This sounds like something someone with lack of hygiene and/or drive would do.  The man also kept giving away all of his and his wives belongings; didn’t care to keep anything.

Images that stuck out to me was when the man told the woman that his wife committed suicide in that bed and that “he’d woken soaked in her blood”, just before that, the woman said “I didn’t look at him or touch his hand”.  At the end of the poem, when referring to her “new fling” who is a garbage man, she said “and he’d say, dead pan, nothing at all in his voice at all, Yeah, yeah darlin’, it’s me”.  She has no emotional connection with these men what so ever.  It shows that this woman probably has serious insecurities and is just hanging out with men who show her any sort of attention.  When the man had a party, his friends turned down the music while the woman had an orgasm. Then the poem also said he flirted with the woman’s mother.  The poem kind of describes him as a womanizer, like he has women over all the time doing this.

With this being a block poem, the author’s voice kind of drags and rambles on which makes me feel even more detached from the men she speaks of.