Compulsions are more easily conducted through tradition
Confusion’s quelled & then resolved if we’re all on a Mission
Of quirks and failings are we all however we may pose
Obtuse investigation lets us call a guess surmise
Machismo or our “best behavior” muffles up our cries
Micromanaged sorrow tells the news feed so it goes
Put Piggy Banking off its feed–you need a lack of plinks
Put Love and Money on whatever brings the richest thinks
So I wrote in late March of 2010. Neil Armstrong was still alive and smiling, Philip Seymour Hoffman was still alive and performing, and Marty Stoneman was still alive and theorizing. Now two of them are gone, and the third is going: I saw Marty last Saturday but he was never conscious enough to converse. His breathing was a little shallow, but steady. His head was at an angle that seemed odd and uncomfortable, but his spine has been collapsing for years. His flesh was suffused with the color of jaundice, as if some chef had added saffron to the mix. My first sight of him prostrate on the bed gave me a flash of Michelangelo’s “Moses”: that heroic head, stricken with tragic necessity.
With my words came an image that revealed the triple acrostic COMP LETE NESS. Looking at the image today, I realized that it itself was incomplete. I added more words, in the form of a pseudo-haiku:
did you, when you passed away,
make that Giant Leap?
This to me is the “overwhelming question” referred to by T.S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock. And by Jackson Browne, thus, in “For a Dancer”:
I don’t know what happens when people die
Can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try
It’s like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
That I can’t sing…
I also enhanced the image somewhat, with Ticonderoga #2 pencil, and eraser, and paper stump. But it STILL isn’t complete; so my second signature on the page has “completed” in quotation marks.
My mother tells me that Marty was saying “I’m done” over and over again in the last couple of weeks, and that despite a lifetime of nonchalance about the prospect of dying, he has become fearful. I weep and mourn for him. He is still fighting, but he will lose soon.
Jackson Browne finished his song this way:
“…and somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie the reason you were alive–but you’ll never know.”