Elegy

Here I thought Death and I

had an understanding, Brian,

when I paid a nice visit a while back,

the first real vacation I had in years.

We parted on friendly terms

because I still had things to do,

like hang out with you and your posse

and lend a hand helping out

the hurtingest folks around.

I was totally down with our understanding

I’d be coming back to stay one day

when my deeds were done.

 

Man, though, what’s up with this,

you taking off right in the middle

of the game for the championship?

Whose idea was this, anyway?

Not yours I’m sure. So, Death and I,

we need to have a talk.

Us, you left behind, heads and hearts

spinning crazy, we’ll get it together

and do what we got to do,

without your glowing and singing company.

We always do, when a key player is down for the count.

Still, Big Guy, we don’t have to like it. At all.

Don’t think for a minute we’ll forget,

and count on it, you come pay us a visit

when you start finding the company of angels

a little boring, and you know for sure

we’ll be on the lookout, wanting to hear

the straight skinny from where you’re at.

 

But hey, one last favor we’ll ask of you,

because you were always our best salesman

and story-teller: Please tell Death for us,

as far as we’re concerned, your number

was not up, no matter what the wannabe

wise guys in fancy robes might try to sell us.

All I can think is

Death misread the calendar, I do that a lot,

or else was having a really, really bad day,

and forgot what time it was.

Not your time. No way.

Westerly Terrace

Il miglior Fabbro

 

Hey, Old Man –

One thing is clear:

We could not have stood each other,

too unlike spirits to keep converse.

Changing lives, I tarried in your house;

as you may know, if ever

your daemon and my angel parley.

 

I heard the cadence of the rain you knew,

coming down on the hill between Prospect

and the Little River.

I luxuriated in the falling of your light,

rolled myself up in the redolence

of your rotting leaves.

I shushed and muttered at your ghost,

when I wasn’t over busy with mine.

Man of business, you’d have had no truck

with this willful seeker skeptic,

Johnny-Come-Lately volunteer

intruding in your garden.

 

In your shadow I walked your walk,

stepped along remembering a certain blackbird,

the first I knew of you.

A good gait you had,

matched like your sartorial habitus

in all weathers, to suit time of day and season,

inward to work, outward home;

its parsing ever after setting the paces

beneath the offbeat pulsing

in the carcasses of your poems.

 

A little note on this: Half a century ago, when poetry first captured my fancy, Wallace Stevens was one of my favorites. By a strange twist of fate, when going through a mid-life change of direction I was invited to live in the house in the West End of Hartford he’d occupied during the years he worked as an executive for the Hartford Insurance Company for a few months. His spirit still pervaded the house and its surroundings.