Sunday, March 8, 2009

Letter to DFW (1962-2008)

Dear David:

I may understand. I just freaked out myself
and suddenly started pounding my head
with my fists. You said you wore a bandana
to keep yours from exploding. Henze is doing
just that right now in his Dionysian Third
on my ipod (Yes. That means I have a Henze
playlist. And an extensive one at that).

What we do matters. Despite what
the critics in Poetry magazine write,
we don't do it for recognition.
Like you said, we do it to prove
our status as human beings.
We do it to live.
If not to give meaning,
then to offer multiple readings--
alternate takes--on life.

And even though you left
yours unfinished (does anyone
really, truly finish...)
You made a difference, man.
You lodged stories and characters
where they will stay for who knows how long.
(Who says fiction isn't real?!?)
What we do matters. Art matters.
How else can one make sense
of life--much less approach death?
(this should be an endnote,
a la Infinite Jest, but alas,
it is merely parenthetical:
religion as art; philosophy as art;
relationship as art--all creative acts.
Every leap--whether aesthetic, ontological,
existential--is an imaginative feat,
a stance, a statement
both of will and being)

Yet we shouldn't be so hard
on ourselves. Or our work.
The restless, insatiable,
demanding ones (and if not
indefatigable, then relentlessly
searching, questioning, attempting)
should give ourselves a break
before we break ourselves.
(I didn't mean for that to
veer into cliche. Yikes.
Please forgive me)
What I meant to say was:
You lived the questions into art
and cracked open claustrophobic spaces.
In the process of your
unbecoming you left us
something, and that matters.

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