a poet died

last week, an old poet
named Herschel
(aged 79)
died in our town
he was
a man who’d faced
mighty demons
3 vindictive lovers
and at least 9
unforgiving employers
and no less than 23
relentless creditors
not to mention
long nights
(for nearly 17 years)
at a bar called
the Timberline
surrounded by serious fans
who gathered nightly
to hear him read
his latest
cocktail napkin
and to applaud
his readings
and to tell him
that his words
had moved them


more than
Deepak Chopra
or the Dali Lama
that must be surely
bottled and sold
shaken and stirred
and strained gently
over crushed ice
and blended
so very carefully
until their consistency
is consistent
with Kentucky bourbon…

…fine words…
…words that give comfort
to the fucked up needy
when the night
presses in hard
and the corporate benefits
are extinguished
and the wife has vanished
and the old friend
the last one that
you had on earth
is buried
and the dog is lost
and the boat has sunk
and the Visa card has
been cancelled,
the electricity cut off
and the property

You think of him then
on a cold night
…damned old poet
you envy him
on his last night on earth
he just waved at the stars
and walked away

8 thoughts on “a poet died

  1. Excellent. This makes me wish I’d known the man, or at least heard his stories. My favorite part is the stanza about the words that must be bottled or sold. Well, but wait, maybe it’s the ending that’s my favorite – waving at the stars and walking away. I also really like how you told this without sinking into cliches or saccharine phrases that show up too often when someone has died.

  2. Really enjoyed this poem. Your creative use of language in speaking of blending Herschel’s words into Kentucky bourbon is , particularly striking. Thanks for writing the work.

    • Thank you for reading Pete, and thank you for the kind words. I know I have not posted much lately. I have had so many deadlines for my “day job” (which is also my night job) that I have had little time to blog. There are so many topics I want to write about but precious little time. After the new year maybe…

  3. There have been times when I’ve attended a funeral that I am secretly jealous of the person who died. I think, “at least they got out of this world now and won’t have to go through all the crap that’s coming down the pike.”

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