It was Wall told me Beasley was dying.
His liver was going bad.
He'd already quit whoring.
Angel kept on and cared for him
in her walk-up, low-rent room.
He stopped drinking, stayed home mostly.
He made Iago a gangster
story, with Desdemona Iago's sister.
When Beasley ventured out
he spent hours in all-night movies.
Scarface he watched so many times
he grew to love the brother-sister
incest plot Paul Muni's Tony
shared with Ann Dvorak's Cesca.
George Raft's Guido was husband Othello,
without any black-face minstrel getup.
Tony and Cesca kept secret their love
that dare not speak its name.
When Guido caught on, he took out his rage
on Cesca, the way Desdemona
takes the rap for Iago in Othello.
For Gerry sex was the axis that turned
most of his Shakespearean plots.
To get the Borgia background
for Prohibition-era Chicago
he read three versions of Cenci–
by Stendhal, Shelley, and Artaud.
At home when he wasn't reading
he was writing. Angel said
he wrote all morning, dawn to noon,
then napped, went to the theaters,
and back home wrote until he slept.
I had not yet read any of Iago. He read it all
to Angel; she gave the typescript to me,
along with his Hamlet and the others.
Gerry had asked Angel to crumple
his manuscripts around his corpse
to ignite the flames, but he knew
an unmarked grave would have to do.
She saved his work, she said, for posterity.
Angel and Dee read over
his pauper's grave.
It was in autumn.
There was rain.
(4-5 April 2013)
copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander