Thursday, December 31, 2015


I did the math: Had B. been born on the same day as me, he’d have killed himself 24 days ago. I’ve outlived him by 3 weeks and 3 days and counting, assuming I make it through the night, which I have every reasonable expectation of doing. Not that this is a competition. It’s just that it’s New Year’s Eve, just past 9:30, one of those moments when you stop and assess. The upcoming year is filled with possibility, and life, and good work. I’m not famous yet, have a couple smaller prizes to my credit from pretty long ago, but nothing major, and a few things published. Small accomplishments, but they’re real and they matter to me. But my life is throbbing. I wouldn’t trade a minute of it for fame and an attenuating reputational immortality. But I’m as tired as Henry feels, having driven home today from a visit in Canada, after two nights of little sleep. But I don’t feel close to 900 years old.

I’m not old. I don’t abuse my body with drink, too much food, drugs, and I don’t abuse my psyche with behavior that drags it down and wears it out. I have friends who love me and a family who loves me, and I love them back and mean it. I’m learning how to work. There is so much more to come.

I’m also bone-tired tonight for another reason, having donated a full year of conscientious attention to a talented major poet who pretty much admits in his work how and why he was such an abject failure as a human being. Sometimes he has felt like the proverbial drunken uncle in my year: It’s Thanksgiving, and at halftime of the Lions game, here come Uncle Filbert’s pronouncements on “the Negro question,” “limp-wristed queers,” “hot ladies,” and just lately the 2nd Amendment, a big fence on the border to keep them damn Mexicans out, and Islamic Sharia law. No sense arguing with him, just let him air his stuff then move on as nimbly as you can. You still love him, because you have to, but you do. Uncle Filbert is from Detroit, a big Lion’s fan with a runny tattoo of the team’s blue rampant lion logo on his upper arm. The Lions always lose on Thanksgiving, which you secretly count on, and which makes Uncle Filbert’s ignorant ideas somehow easier to swallow. He’s your mom’s half-brother, but Uncle Filbert is a loser and a fraud, and around ten years old is when you began to figure out what everybody else had always known all along. What B. figures is that while he’s actually a pretty accomplished and famous poet (he was) eventually he will be exposed as a life-fraud, à la Uncle Filbert. He was exactly that, though B. might have been surprised that it wasn’t such a secret. He certainly published the news in his work, if anyone pays attention. (Many still do.) That, and he had nightmares and he drank a lot and he imagined enemies out to get him. That’s what’s going on in this DS 365.

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