learning about harold norse
my stomach is acting up again
and i can’t figure out why
it keeps making these burping sensations, like little puffs
in my stomach and then at my diaphragm.
part of me wants to know what it is
and part of me doesn’t.
but it’s doing it again on this train
and the pain across my chest
is kind of making me worried too.
i walked five miles to get here
carrying a heavy bag full of books
my lunch and my writing
and so my shoulder is bothering me too.
i might be getting too old for this walk.
even my legs hurt.
sitting here, waiting for the inevitable work day.
i’m reading the chiron review
to try and ignore the aches and pains
this incessant stomach “burping”
my sick mind thinking that i could die at any moment.
yes, i’m reading the chiron review and reading poems.
there i am on page forty with about four other people
poets that i don’t know.
but that’s not what gets me, my poem or the others,
and it’s not the pains and aches and spoiled stomach.
no, it was reading the dedication at the beginning of the issue
and i can’t stop thinking about it
“in loving memory of harold norse.”
when did that happen? i wondered.
when did you leave us harold?
did i know and just forget?
or has the world forgotten to give poets their fond farewell
and it was never reported?
talk about turning your stomach!
well, i just wanted to let you know that i remember you, harold
and how you got me through buffalo, new york,
reading your collected poems in a cold car,
drinking a tall boy of canadian beer
when the work days had become too much for me,
and i just couldn’t bear to go in
when there was no job other than shelving wine
or hauling doors, or picking staples out of invoices for
eight straight hours.
when there was no job at all.
harold, you beautiful old queer, your words were diamonds
to me under the gray gloom of the niagara region.
and i know this little tribute will never be enough
so rest in peace, old man,
new york and san francisco seem a little bit gloomier today.
go lay down in death, you scarf-wearing angel,
while the rest of us try to figure out what it is
that we just lost.