I don’t know what to say. I sat down Friday afternoon after work and I had been thinking about my friend because it had been about a year since he called me on the phone, asked me what I was doing that weekend, then said it didn’t matter, he was coming to kidnap me for an impromptu trip.
I think, for the rest of my life, I will fight for positive thinking and optimism not because I believe in the instant magic of it, but because I know how hard it is to find every day. And if we don’t keep searching for it we will never find it. I don’t know if my friend found it, but if you ask the people who knew him, he certainly brought it.
To happiness, to every short burst of it we can milk out of this short life. To friendships, to those who climb down into the darkness of the well with us and lead us back. To my friend, who continues to make me laugh in the vacuum of my car and continues to inspire me to not be too serious or too depressing, to suck it up, to be a man about it, to be shameless and to not apologize, at least so often.
I don’t know if I’m well, but I know I am better because of you. To knowing what you have to hold on to is worth holding on to, sir. We’ve drank to that so many times in the past, like when we first started playing guitar together, or when we lost our grandfathers, or when you turned thirty. This beer and every one I will ever have is to you.
I’m always thinking of you.
How do you do
If I was an honest man, all you would find here
is silence. But I have a tongue, and a tongue must
taste, must make sense, must draw from the empty
coarse, palette, the best of atmospheric intent -tions,
and stand to attention. To send the gentle smile,
the reminder to not stare off into the distance
where the ships have sailed unmanned,
no wind, no sail, no remote control
of the tide, no consciousness willing to bear the weight
of the cargo, the flotsam we recovered and rebuilt
as wide-eyed perilous navigators charting our journeys
by the light of the stars, by the light of our young hearts,
by the light of some distant beacon on a shore,
a harbor of comfort, of stories from the past
we were still sailing for. Did you make it.
It seemed like you did. Even if you could not
believe in it. You made it, and here and there I hear
the trumpets blare, confidants and associates,
acquaintances from beyond that port they have photographs
and logs that have kept track
of your kindness, your fortitude, your gratitude,
your courage to defy the administration, Bobby Knight,
and that chair you threw across the basketball court.
They wear your name on their T-shirts and they swing away,
stitched leather balls spinning into a future you knew
they could find with an educated mind.
I have ran out of words, good sir.
Out of good time and good
excuses and out of
making good, and so, I regress
because this fist fight, this bare knuckle brawl,
against the inertia of falling forward,
it might mean that some thing I cannot see
may catch me.
Because it seems all the things that do ever catch me
are the things I cannot see.
The things that jerk,
that hook, the pulley and the harness
that bind me, that lift me from time to time,
that lift Peter Pan up from his slumber in Never Land,
and how long have you been asleep Peter,
how long have you not been paying attention.
And so, I regress, scouring the ledger
through the glass that blurs the past.
Finger prints and palm prints and nose prints.
The grease of human diligence
attempting to grasp, to clasp, again
those moments in the back of my mind
in between our shared, adolescent dreams
of pretty girls we confused into loving us, somehow, somehow…
the ones we’d like to find again,
the ones we should have never let go of,
the ones we assured each other we were going to still find.
Those moments somewhere in between the concrete and the abstract
pavement of the path that we argued
would defy every eloquent epitaph.
We were going to set this world on fire, perhaps if only
we knew it better then, to keep the other warm;
with company, with brotherhood, with handshakes
we could never decide on how hard to embrace,
with truths and dares, we could never decide on
how hard to embrace, with embraces we could
never decide on how hard to embrace.
We were both storytellers, prone to exaggerate, to inflate
our simple lives, to escape
how natural it was to love
everyone we loved, and to love each other
at a distance or by bonfire light, neon light,
or by Miller’s High Life Lite. It was not, my friend,
it was extra ordinary.
They come now, all dressed
intending their Sunday best.
I stand now. I smile. I shake hands.
I offer my deepest gratitude for their presence,
their arrival, their condolences, and for once,
because I have never been much of an honest man,
I don’t want them to give any of it back to me.
Take it with you, please. Is this the currency
that it takes. The rare minted coins, molten in the furnace
of an education, the price of time.
Take it. Please, take it. Give me more time.
I sat on my knees a few days ago and I prayed.
The phone rang and rang and I did not answer
because I did not have the answers
because I have never been much
of an honest man. And because I have never been much
of an honest man, I prayed to every God I knew
and I offered them myself. I offered them years
that I may never have. Take half,
take it all. Take what you must
to give my friend a chance. I am not
an honest man and I do not
deserve the fortune or the happenstance
of fortune. But my friend.
But my friend…
I revile silently now
through smile and through handshake. Not because
the many faced Gods have failed me
but because I have failed myself
for not loving you enough.
Because I have not been
an honest man. And I wonder now
if that is the true currency
of time. Honesty. Presence. Loving in spite of.
Have I saved all these coins for too long?
Hoarding them in the secret shoe box
among the other shoe boxes inside the closet,
depositing them into a safe deposit box,
a rainy day fund that will sit until the floods come
I’m sorry, my friend. I do not know how to do, today.
I sit. I stand. I crawl. I drink. I smoke.
But this is not living, not like you did.
How did you do.
How do you do.
I am sorry, my friend, because, I love you.
Present tense. Eternal tense.
I love you.
Take this with you.
We are rebuilding here, the flotsam, the cargo
that has grown so heavy, but we are learning again,
all of us, how to carry you with us.
And we are slowly raising our sails again
led by your beacon, your journeys, the tales
that are still being told beside the mug, the comfort of
you helped brew.
And we still laugh some times, at the things
that you have done. And we still say sometimes,
if you were here, oh what you would have done.
Oh how you did what you did, my friend.
And I think of you, sir, all of the god damned time.
How do you do, my friend.
How do you do.
How do you do.