Three days in the deep I searched for my heart.
The way was without detours. Surely
Something wants to discourage me
From intimacy. Am I going through something
Or is something going through me.
My appointment to suffer is canceled.
Im smelted and snapped.
My priorities once again cause me to rely on the joy
Of the scourge. I cast my torment on the fire.
Once again, the tape and the title are one.
--from False Prophet, by Stan Rice (1942-2002)
"For a long time he stood there against the dim light from
Divisadero Street and the passing beams of traffic."
--from Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice (1976)
We were sitting on his balcony, second floor, Something Apartments,
and his little girl was playing beyond the stack of pages
with poetry on them, something about Jack Kerouac
we never discussed, I never read, he reminded me nothing of, as I say
in the West, its northern part anyway. And let me tell you
the little girl was a smaller version of her mother, electric with life
like the woman behind the closed door of her room
writing. He drank. I drank. I read. He read. We each had elegiac
apostrophes to the noblest human being of our day
gunned down in Memphis taking a breath of air on a motel balcony.
My new friend turned to me and said, She’s going to die soon . . .
God damn, she’s all I have, really, all we ever needed.
She skipped through the living room behind the open sliding-glass door.
Michele, he said . . . She came to him and he kissed her and held her
and I was drunk enough to cry at a moment like this, but took a drink
to scotch my tears. Her mother emerged to feed us potato soup
New Orleans style . . . Ever after I wondered was she working on,
or toward a novel that day? The novel? The one published not long
after Michele’s death. I returned the next year: I called, he invited us
over, Karen Lee and I, driving across country. You do get around,
living in Massachusetts now, west of Boston, north of Dallas, he joked.
His wife was out. It was night. Michele had died between my two visits,
leukemia reaping her future. Her mother was excavating Divisadero.
Archaeologist of the dead. They came up out of the swarming earth,
yet she knew the cartography of the penniless carpenter's apprentice
who walked everywhere and raised his own dead. A book of poetry,
their daughter’s face on the cover, was wholly devoted to her brief life
till death, and a mutual friend home from France published the book,
and many years later Karen Lee was going back to New Orleans
on a business trip and I was tagging along to visit him in his new home
in the Garden District, where I never saw inside, and not then either:
brain cancer killed him after many brave books, and I stayed home.
dedicated to Anne and their son Christopher
(5-6 September 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander