Dear Pat  (1945 – 1968)
……………………………………..And there,
in immensity’s mire, I encountered their dead;
Dead grazing the barriers,
Dead opening roadways and doorways.
                                             Pablo Neruda

it’s easy to love the dead
they don’t talk back
sometimes they whisper
in your ear and you’re never sure
if they mean do this or do that,
just last month jennifer’s physic
said you were coming through
= as if half-centuries are mere
stepping stones to yesterday

today i sit in a cafe reading blogs
(maybe you don’t know about our
profoundly nefarious web
but maybe, my brother,
you know everything).
and i watch across the street
where old men go in and come out
with drugs in crook-necked bags,
extending their lives into diminishment

how could you know
that your son (born a month after
you passed into a different plane)
would be a professor of russian history
or that our brother kevin would be queer
and die young from a virus called aids?

oh, the world of ’68
that explosion of who we would be
that reverberation that rings in old ears
that mix of personal and impersonal,
riots in the streets with you decked out
in the parlor of roth funeral home
the lines were long and afterward
dad went into the melancholy mode
of “the good die young”
you were his namesake for heaven’s sake

Pat, if you’ve been my guardian angel
you’ve certainly done a-hell-of-a-job;
with all my close calls, my boneheaded mistakes
i’ve come out better than i deserve
and do you believe (as i do) that these
are really for the living, to justify ourselves
to our facebook followers?

still, i feel you and see you
in my dtreams or behind my writing tree
at the post office or the grocery
at the lot of our long-gone house,
not a shadow
but a quiet presence amid the hubbub

as always,