1944 - 2011
A Dirge for Paul Funge
It was an exaltation of pure joy... the painting,
the friendships near and windblown.
Now it's better to laugh, stifle a growl...
better to remember us drunk in San Francisco,
a short walk to the surf, snug and well fed
in a surviving '06 quake Victorian,
bombastic for art and poetry...
four decades ago... how you passed out
on a wide couch in a bottle-clogged
front room, my Irish Wolfhound, Bran,
curled at your feet, proprietary guard
of your sleep, your dreaming of new paintings.
How could we have known, that afternoon
in Gorey, Wexford, us in our twenties,
when James Liddy walked me through
your new festival, when you talked, joked
a verse-wilted sweet-nippled girl
into my arms, annointing me,
The new crazy-great Yank poet...
how could we have known, in that Gaelic sun,
that the nicotine-yellow fish-scale-fleshed
Abaddon of the Bottomless Pit
would stalk us, trip us into the icy
trap of lights-out codgerhood?
All these decades... no words between us.
My fault the silence. Wheeling onward with poems.
Giving sweet Kate babies. Never gathering wit
long enough to at least send you a postcard.
Tonight it's not nearly enough to grieve-stare
at your paintings, luminous on a techno-screen.
Yet that is what your friends must get by on:
the luminous work, paintings you gave with joy.
Landscape with Dark Clouds