This is what I would tell my sons: “You came from an ancient people, a heritage of poets and tailors, or thieves and blasphemers, of callous men and slaughtered children. I would give you these books, written by God, some have said, although I am doubtful but driven by Erato, without doubt.”
This is what I would tell my sons: “I didn’t go to war — there were so many options and I chose one where my feet would touch only Texas mud, where the only bullets were quickly fired on the rifle range. I wasn’t one of the 56,000. I didn’t come home in a body bag. But I do stop at the Wall each time I visit D.C. and say farewell to those who did.”
This is what I would tell my sons: “You have never known the hunger for a scrap of bread pulled from a dumpster, you have never spent a night on a steam grate hiding under yesterday’s newspapers from the rapidly falling snow. You never stood nervously at the waiting room of a dingy clinic waiting for a young, uncaring doctor to announce that antibiotics would likely clear up the infection but you should avoid any form of sex for a couple of weeks.”
This is what I would tell my sons: “You come from a heritage of poets.”
First published in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press 2008
(for Allen Ginsburg) You died quietly in your bed friends gathered around the cars and buses of the city clattering out a Kaddish to a God you had long ago dismissed as irrelevant. We would have expected your to howl, to decry the unfairness of it all, but you merely said it is time, and slipped away. Who gave you the right to depart without leaving us one last remonstration against the insanity that surrounds us, one last censure of the fools who we have so blindly chosen to lead a generation into a hell of our creation. You had your peace but what of us left behind, what can we look forward to in your absence save the words we know so well, can recite by heart that no longer beats in your breast.
First appeared in Living Poets Vol. 2, No. 1, (U.K) 2001 and reprinted in Legal Studies Forum vol .30, Nos 1-2, 2006
He says, “I write songs without music, my head Is a libretto warehouse.” She says, “You string words like random beads, no two strands the same.” He says, “Symmetry is for those with linear minds who can’t see out of the tunnel.” She says, “Dysentery, verbal, is a disease to be avoided particularly by poets.” He says, “I’ll sing a song for you if I can only find the right notes.” She says, “Fine, but know it is the silent space between the notes were the music truly lives.”
They said it was essential for a writer to have a substantial platform, one built high enough to be easily seen by those passersby who might just give a passing glance, even if it was a typo landed them here, updated, regularly changing with time, tide, and fashion always ready, always accommodating. It must be a composite, the better to handle storms, ill winds lacking the ennui of winter, curse of summer. It was no small task to build, everyone offered plans, templates, none ever quite right, but he built it, and when the time came, like most writers he knew, it would suffice where they put the noose around his neck and hung him by his words, his truth that they came to hate.
In dreams I write letters to dead heroes beginning each Dear __________: I apologize for the intrusion but in your next life will you do the same, give up the desk in the patent office for dreams of brothers twins, one moving one fixed, stand before a jury, no testament to the Lower East Side. I carefully fold each letter and put on proper postage but delivery across the curtain of mortality is slow and your responses have not been forthcoming but I will continue to write for there are always more with whom to correspond.