Tuesday, April 14, 2015

15/30: For Keith, who stole pencils

There is community and then there is
community. Some you can see.  Girl Scouts.
A crowd dancing under manic lights. A weekly

cancer support group.  The huddled prisoners
of war in their cells.  Two bodies passing in a crowd,
a nod when they recognize each other's tattoos.

Participation in community begets love and loss
and loss.  One scout moves to another town, one dancer
kisses friends goodnight.  Cheryl doesn't show up

for this week's meeting.  Tomas doesn't come back
from interrogation.  Some loss is heavier
than lifting. Who can say what the community feels?

I can.  Today I heard of a poet's death, his lifelong struggle
with a disease no cheaper than cancer. Keith took his life? No.
Depression did.  A poet, depressed, still writing, he was

my community and on this unholy day I feel
my own death here in the room.  It is small
as a baby's fist.  A sour, overripe plum

cradled between my teeth. It poisons my thoughts.
He isn't coming back like so many others and this disease
is killing my friends, my heroes, my mentors, our

artists, and one day it might kill me.  A fruit
I cannot spit out, fermenting, brewing a wine
no one should drink.

Buy Keith's Book Here

The poem Keith wrote when Pete Seger died:

I listened to your voice
more than I did that of my own parents
though I did hear theirs
much more often than yours
your voice told me not just
what I needed to hear
but what I wanted to her
as well
Now, I will bid farewell
to part of you
but not the part that matters
the part I still posses
so do millions of others
all around this world
some are still around campfires
as I once was
That’s when we were first introduced
it did not matter much
that you were physically absent
from that introduction
we still formed a bond
that will not be broken
not even with that hammer
the one that works morning and evening
all over this land
We still have a bond with
millions of voices loud and soft
and those voices are still
as effective today as any hammer
“If I had a hammer
I’d hammer in the morning
I’d hammer in the evening
All over this land…”
January 29, 2014

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