Poem for the Passing
When the heartbeat and pulse of the inevitable Lake Jackson are no longer a marshy bother, I too, with any luck, will disappear. —Michael Rothenberg, "On Lake Jackson"
I think you are getting it all wrong my friend, because no matter where we go, we never completely disappear. Certainly you can appreciate what I am saying here. I have been learning this the hard way as one death after another weighs down upon me this past year
old school friend vibrant work friend dearest artist friend three mentors in one year and my father who left almost four years ago now which seems like only yesterday. I’m telling you, no one who writes paints teaches cooks breathes or dreams ever disappears completely because marks are left seeds planted roads traveled and even when the ocean washes away the last footprints from the face of the beach, the sand remembers who stood there and who carried the smallest grains of it away to other shores.
March 30, 2017
The Blanket of Immortality
for Michael Rothenberg
We go back a long way, you and I. On the night we met, you were words on a screen and a picture of a man in front of a sunflower, who said he was looking for poets, one hundred thousand of them to organize poetry readings, to share words. Words of Change! I answered the call and we became friends, and words became threads that held us. For twelve years, you brought a world of poets together every September floating up their words to make many skies, one sky. Many dreams, one dream. You had a dream to make the world a better place. I had a dream to help. There was joy along the way and never-ending sorrow. Grievances, uncertainties, and a long list of injustices that had us screaming for change. Not for ego—never ego—but to make a difference, to right the wrongs of this world. Now, you are gone, but not gone. Not here, but here. Cancer took your body, but not your words. Before you left, you told me a story of an alpaca blanket that you bought in Colombia, when you were twenty and wide-eyed, brimming over with the music of the world. That blanket carried you, kept you, sang you to sleep, and made you feel as if you could live forever, so much easier to believe that at twenty than seventy. But the story is that the blanket was destroyed by a chance toss into the washing machine, then, the dryer. All this done by a well-meaning caregiver, who offered to buy you a new blanket, not understanding that it was not the blanket that mattered, but the dream that it embodied. And now you have taken a new shroud, one we will all wear, each in our own time. Wherever you are now, I know you will meet the soul of the alpaca and thank him for the wool he gave. He knows you loved him for the blanket he became, just as the world will always know you and love you for the words you have become.
December 1, 2022
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