I clicked on Kurt Brown’s link to praise his poem—
a teenage diver mocked by jeering boys
stuns them into silence when she launches
from the high board and arches through the air—
and read—oh, shit, no!—that he’d just died.
He’s not that old—about my age I’d guess.
My age exactly, I learned when I Googled—
the age when knees give out and get replaced,
extending us a decade more of tennis,
and possibly a bypass or a stent
to keep blood pumping freely through our hearts,
and one or two or three prescription drugs
to regulate, and/or suppress the stuff
our bodies used to do on automatic.
In our biographies we would be past
halfway but nowhere near the final page,
though maybe we’d be in the final section,
The Years of Triumph. Or if not triumph, Ease.
Still lots of time to break through in the writing;
no money worries, no career ambition
except to make the work outlast the life—
which you’ve done, Kurt, with your terrific poem
drawn from your new (now posthumous) collection,
which I’m about to buy from Amazon
and teach to teenage boys just like the ones
you pierced with x-ray vision in your poem.
They’ll think such vision comes from Old Man’s Wisdom,
not suspecting you’re still one of them,
catcalling teen, struck dumb by perfect form—
as I am now by yours, departed friend.
–Richard Cecil (Monroe County)
Richard Cecil, of Bloomington, has published four collections of poems, the most recent of which is Twenty First Century Blues. He teaches in the Honors College of Indiana University.
Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem from an Indiana poet every day in April (hand-selected by Indiana Poet Laureate George Kalamaras). Check in daily to see who is featured next!