NaPoWriMo Day 29

Jim the Sim

………His name rhymed but his poems didn’t.
He kicked my ass so many times on the page,
in the class, in my mind, in late night Café
Espress rambles over prosody. He
taught karate workshops at NAU,
invited me to join, just one
more way to kick my ass. That
was before his bones turned to chalk, before
the concrete world he cherished betrayed him
and took him from his ponderosa pine rambles
with Bandit. No more hiking the caldera
rim on Humphreys. No more Oak Creek
Canyon leaps into green icewater,
not with two hip replacements. Not
even simple walks in Lockett Meadow,
not with a third operation needed and nothing
but scalpels beyond.

……..Teaching was athletic for Jim. The staff
in Liberal Arts called him their Boy Wonder.
Frantic energy in the classroom, hopping
on white leather sneakers, lit up by a love
of language and a nervous need for long delayed
nicotine fix. Where did he get the drive
to read reams of mimeographed freshman
poems? Yet he could goose references to Wright,
Stevens, Matthews, Levis out of these
jalopies of word jumbles. Quick smile,
quicker temper, his words could cut crap.
He once called me the smartest man in Flagstaff,
Arizona. He could cuff you like
a cur and pet you like a pup with the same

…………..He taught “Sailing to Byzantium”
as the finest poem in the English language. That
was no place for old men, for broken
men, for tattered coats when even the brittle
stick breaks and breaks again. Now
out of nature because he chose the gun
over the scalpel. Maybe he aspired
to become gold mosaic in the Basilica of San
Vitale. Or maybe, with his gap-toothed grin,
the Golden Arches of McDonald’s, knowing the eternal
city is now made of plastic. We’re
never really out of nature and eternity
is a pipe dream of drowsy emperors. Jim,
you are with the volcanic dust and your
dog songs are coils of protein in the grey
fat of my brain. So someday we two
may yet meet Yeats in Ravenna.


3 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo Day 29

  1. velveteenrabbi

    This is really wonderful. I love the specificity of “ponderosa pine rambles,” “leaps into green icewater,” “he could goose references to Wright, / Stevens, Matthews, Levis out of these / jalopies of word jumbles.” And aspiring to be gold basilica, or maybe the golden arches. I didn’t know him; I’m sorry for your loss, and for the world’s.


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