Monday, March 2, 2009

Upon Hearing of Your Death in Your 34th Year.... (For Mike Amado)

( Mike Amado second from right)

Upon Hearing of Your Death in Your 34th Year

For Mike Amado

I fear losing your brightness to shades of memory,
the way you lean forward when you are being kind,
which is all the time,
the way you build your poetry in spades
and it comes out in hearts,
The way the drum beats our hearts beat the words beat.

Within the hour,
I dig into my box of childhood treasures, so insignificant now,
for two polished Winged Victories for your eyelids,
to pay Chiron’s fee and then dredge up three
lint-covered Valiums for Cerberus,
who like a good dog will eat Anything.
I am worrying that if you can’t translate
into three languages on a good day
you might end up excluded from
The Elysian Fields Anthology.

Nobody’s fault you grew up grappling
with a pain shaking you by the balls
over a cliff, each breath reminding you
when the pain stopped you would be dead,
a promise it kept (like a heartless sundial ever
burnishing the Spoken Warrior’s words).

There is a question poetry asks of common sense:
Is it our language that leaves us incredulous
of any reality that doesn’t measure itself
by a beginning and an end?
Is Plath’s Ariel simply a nightlight
in a black, chaotic universe?
Ah, there’s the rub.
Who was it exactly named the stars?
The constellations? and would that be enough?
To live on in that way? When art crosses the line
becoming myth you might oh so quickly
forget the name of this young poet.
But I would be happy to remember this line
of poetry on any battlefield life takes me,
in any last breath if there were time,
“There is a river I call Sky.”

--------- Linda Larson is a Bagel Bard and former editor of "Spare Change News."