for Roberto Valenza
They keep telling me to write a poem for you.
No, my friend Ted keeps telling me.
Since he also knew you.
But knows I knew you a lot better.
I don’t wanna write a poem for you!
I want you here: alive, kicking, talking to me.
Instead you’re doing the bardos business.
Transmigration and all that jazz. Fuck.
Going somewhere groovy, are you?
With cosmic ‘li-baries’ and such.
What a pronunciation joy you were.
You winked at me to acknowledge that
when you read at the Ruigoord poetry festival.
As for going places, Ted went to the Treehouse
the other night to recite a couple of your poems.
Respect, baby, for the goddamn dearly departed.
But okay, I ‘forgive you’ for splitting the scene,
flying away to do your own eternal number.
You beautiful Buddhist bum, you.
Yeah, and Yuyu Ramdass Sharma,
the literary face of Kathmandu today,
has posted a memoriam on Facebook
for the prince of Kathmandu yesterday.
You were fiercely wild then, and absorbed,
putting Franco down for being only 5 foot 3,
and promising that Lorca and the boys
were waiting in some nether world
to dish out their poetic justice.
And I howled back with my Madras madness,
the “Clear Queer Green” chant you always dug.
You hung in there long, I short albeit Shakti deep,
but together we caught spirits at the Spirit Catcher.
And I do believe you witnessed 8-Finger Eddie
bestowing what later became my legendary nickname
(name Ira Cohen was often at pains to explain),
offering a three-fingered hand and saying:
“You must be 10-Finger Eddie.”
Sitting in celibate pose
Dancing with the nagas
Many have known you intimately
Leaving their insanity at the foot of your ruins.
RV (Goa, India)
You kept on wooing spirits, and mostly the right ones.
The whole time embracing the life you so loved,
loving the women you passionately adored;
and shit yes but what the bloody hell
for far too long till you finally quit
caressing the drugs that voodooed your liver,
tempting Maha Kali to blitz your body for a change.
She’d long since done her tantric job on your ego.
Are you pissed off that you gave that stuff up
and then went and died of cancer anyway?
Or more because I’ve yet to make peace with Ira?
Sorry, baba, maybe some things aren’t meant to be.
So I’m afraid you’ll simply have to live with that. Hah!
Should it ever happen, I’ll surely send you a stargram.
Hey, I’m gonna let you rest now. Or get on with it.
However it works in those spaces beyond time.
Gone but not gone, oh brother in Kali’s arms.
Souls entwined where fear cannot find us.
Your words and your infinite humanity
spurring me on to exceed myself
and dwell every moment
in the ruthless bosom of the undying divine.
Grrr, is this poem enough for your wandering ass?
Or will Ted read it and say: “Lean on it, man, lean on it!”?
First published in Exquisite Corpse