from Memorial Day
And, now to this point, Leroy, I come to these rooms
and pleasant colors
in the singing, but nothing sustains the place,
or nothing I've learned to tell,
excels the lovely nature of appeals, the stories
untold, told, re-told
with seismic relevance, as angers or first love
asked, the greenhouse
or deep-water look of years
would ask of this.

But what weren't you up to around New Haven in '56?
And how many songs
who knows were figured
to so few?

And once I was ten, twelve, past bedtimes scribbling,
trying by hand and eye and mind
and almost singing, moving these blank sheeets
far as one kid might
and past his limits - edgy, for sure, and ignorant -
but preciously close,
fifteen, one bad-haired, rained-on,
rubber-booted
Sunday

/sharing the songs out loud, asked by their lead
to join the "girl group"
I can't remember, because she had sensed some worth,
because some fool white kid
without clue one what he was making
had got her listening,
1962, and in Three Rivers Inn, stripped down
to cold astonishment,
followed her voice through galaxies,
and so many nights at songs,
proving, in passing time, so many common threads,
this throb I could not write off,
write once, trying out a conscience,
trying on the decency,
feeling the likes of dreams
that passed on by
in flashes.

And everywhere's resembling. And every instant's once.
And every song
one public song you lived for decades,
so many birthdays
in one glance, and so many stories -
shaggy with pure joy -
but incremental maybe, and missed,
until you have raised your voice,
on any rainy
Sunday.

And what should I be, Leroy, make of my being here,
of these poems,
this superscripting consequence, begun
in a few
mid-Sixties minutes of pretending, make
of these eyes
and lungs and second-sight and second-guesses,
and more than a little smoke,
more ashes than might be swept
or shoveled up, speaking
to someone dead for all these many seasons,
to someone alive out loud
and singing unequipped, sea-going maybe,
momentary, sub-mariner
maybe, as if I could understand
you once, and all the music
cost you, adding
our own so many lyrics
to sea-change?