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Walking with the poet

I'm grateful to Mike Hi, who wrote the mini-essay in this space "Trump and Pompeo offer free civics lesson"(Feb. 28, 2019), for discovering at least a trace amount of a rainbow that once in awhile appears in otherwise inglorious skies.

To his discovery I add my own: I'm grateful to Trump et. al. for giving me the gift of time that never seems to end.

So I'm finally reading Jean Genet, a writer I told myself I'd read when I had the time. Genet's the kind of writer that once you start reading him everyone you see on the street looks like someone Genet's just written about, even the old ladies. Reading Genet, I want to go out and rob someone or something just to see if I can get away with it; at the same time I keep touching the right front pocket of my jeans to make sure my 'billfold' is still there. Reading Genet is very much like going to an exhibition of paintings by Paul Klee: when you leave the exhibition everything you see looks like a painting by Paul Klee, at least for a couple of blocks or however long it takes to walk a couple of blocks, whichever comes first.

Whichever comes first depends on who you're walking with. When I walk with the poet we walk slowly and laugh a lot. Death is the big subject, and the most laughable. We love to talk about death, almost everything we talk about either begins or ends with death. No death is too sad to laugh about, though some deaths are sad, the death of ones once close to us; but even those deaths have the possibility of some future mirth in them. I think that the poet and I think that our own deaths will be talked about and then laughed over once we have died, that our secret hope may be that we are supplying future poets with something to laugh about, that our laughter, however silent it might be by that time, will somehow inspire the mirth of future poets to laugh about death as much as we have laughed.

I've noticed through the years and during countless walks with the poet that no one wants to walk with us when we talk like this, that whoever may have started walking with us walks ahead of us, and just out of earshot. It must be that we walk too slowly for them.

Reader Comments (1)

I agree with your walking with the poets and laughing at death. I find I laugh uncontrollably at the death all around me, Although walking for me is metaphorical because when I'm with the poets I'm quite still.

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTom Raher

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