Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I was shocked to learn a couple of days ago that Jack Wiler is dead. I met him twice, at poetry events in the city, and both times enjoyed his reading very much. He read in the same way as he talked. The poems are of a piece with the life. He exterminated pests for a living. After he read my book I sent him, he asked if he could do anything for me. It was a generous gesture. That Facebook exchange took place less than a month ago. Jack was tall, and, though gaunt, looked strong. He was fifty-nine.

Death and birth. Joe Fritsch, whom I also met at Cornelia Street Cafe, has started a blog. He is twenty-one, and has just moved into the city. I wish I am twenty-one. His poems are already crafty and poignant. But more, I recognized in him my restless ambition to make something of myself, to reach for whatever is swifter, higher, stronger (Baron Pierre de Coubertin). Perhaps I am projecting. Perhaps all my relationships are always about me.

Shall I see Jack's death through Joe's eyes--sympathetic, engrossing but finally uncomprehending? Or shall I look at Joe as if I am dead Jack? What the fuck, Joe, would you want to start a blog for, when we are all going to die? Do I have a choice, whether to be Joe or Jack today? Or will the weather decide for me?


Eshuneutics said...

I am sure that Joe and Jack have their different virtues. I've just read "My Fucked up Heart". A brutal acceptance of brutish Death. I've just read "All for Writ" with its opening optimism for technology. Jack or Joe? I'd much rather have Jee! As a poet...

Shropshirelad said...

I agree. Be Jee. From what I can tell of the fellow, he's a pretty good guy.

If you are concerned about the effect of the weather today on your psychology, here is some advice I once received from an Umbrella vendor:

Chanson de la Pluie

I said, “No thanks,” to Noah,
While crossing 14th Street;
He seemed to be selling umbrellas
Out standing in the sleet.

Most passersby ignored him:
He wore a puffy coat,
A golden clover pendant,
And he coughed, to clear his throat:

Unbrellas, unbrellas, unbrellas!
Unbrellas! He coughed again.
Unbrellas, unbrellas, unbrellas!
Unbrellas beat the rain!

Joe Fritsch said...

Before life,
before death, before either of us, there is
ontology wanting its syllables
there is simply

Jee Leong Koh said...

Dear Eshun,
A shadow passed over me. Thanks for coming between the shadow and me.

Dear Eric,
I can just hear the umbrella seller's voice: UM-brel-la! UM-brel-la! The poem made me laugh.

Dear Joe,
Thanks for the syllables, especially the last one.

Shropshirelad said...

The funny thing about that umbrella seller, and what drew me to write a poem about him, was how he mispronounced the word.

I was feeling so wet and miserable that day. It was pure magic. Turned my world upside down.