The Poet

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a poem for Willis Barnstone

I remember you always in the many streets of this world, …..from the snowy slush of Boston to the blues-fueled neon of late-night Chicago, and especially in that photo— …..where the 20th Century is given a monochrome hue and strangers turn to shadow as they walk away, an onlooker …..peering from a few steps behind as you hold a leather case filled with poetry slung over your shoulder. You are years …..younger than I am now, holding Borges by the arm, his face sculpted by sunlight and raised toward the past, …..or perhaps it is the expression of a man with a sonnet drifting through the landscape of memory, the verses …..you have just recited to him as Argentina slides one year after another into Geneva, into the last days …..of a life, the days you helped gather into stanzas where he might live forever. I am rifling through the pages …..of your own books now, your own verses and drawings, where the signature of your pen encourages me to write …..the good stuff, the real, the world all around us shimmering with antecedents and lyricism and beauty. …..What I remember most, if I’m honest, is the living poetry of you, the verses come alive in your bony frame, your hair …..a shock of electric light, the music coming from you radiant and alive, and all us driven to dancing by it.