Issue 4
Three Memorial Poems

Three Memorial Poems

RIDING PILLION

– Rachel (Richard) Humphreys, 1952-1990

In the sputtering era of someone else
claiming their success, three years
(somewhere between 1974 and 1978)
is not necessarily a long time.

“I make a better woman
than I do a man.” Remember
the shimmering city
is a funny place. The ridiculous

insecurities and certitudes
of familiarity, affection,
and self-possession—
unlike the compromising

sleaze and corrupting rebellion
of glamour—do not melt away
in the mainstream. Your
unclaimed body

is one of the many
that has been given
a utilitarian—no fanfare—
burial on Hart Island.

PHILIP’S SONG

– In memoriam, Philip Stansbury

The enormous opening robot bear
with hatch––the introducing prop—
containing Miley Cyrus is a promising
beginning. But the fantasy dance
of a little girl’s independence
sadly becomes a jumble of movements
and gestures of rebellion and, then,
enmity, malice, and defiance.
By the final scene of “The Graduate,”
we all know Benjie is going to end up
in “Pasedena Plastics.” Elaine,
full of regrets, will be staring
away, stunned by a martini. Both
should have taken a bit more
time and studied Mrs. Robinson.
She is the one most likely to befriend
and ending up hanging or running
with the fluid Karen Walker
of Will and Grace, or—better yet—
with the girls of Absolutely Fabulous.

Cyrus’s bare tongue wags
to its rehearsed sexual pose,
her rock dilutes down
to a (cough cough)
commercial package deal.
Nothing really ripples.

Rather than “Girl Exhibits Her Way
To a New Stage of Maturity,”
what gets flaunted is hollow excess
and infantilism…. Achy breakie my heart.
All that promise… then, sadly, nothing
but blurred lines of mechanical display.

It’s not the premiere of “The Rite of Spring,”
nor that this young woman lacks
talent; but legions of urbane women
—and a team of urbane man in
artful wigs, in a cloud of makeup,
and passing a hair brush––
have channeled ardent revelation.

Philip, my friend, told me
about his Louisiana parents
one night announcing that it was his
“Last Halloween going-about-in-costume!”

Naively, he squeezed into his little
sister’s black velvet zip-up onesie:
hoodie, thumb holes, and footsies.
And playful young artist that he was,
he grabbed a ball of yarn ….

Later, he confessed nothing
had prepared him for all
the indiscrete attention
in men’s eyes.
“… Before the end
of the night, I grasped
that I could commandeer”

(and that he greatly preferred)
“––rather than some succumbing
cat, the more majestic
self-possessed
persona of Maleficient.”

INSISTENT HEART

– Paul Bloodgood, 1960-May 4, 2018

A Blauvelt and a Bloodgood
offhand sophistication––
fractured and arranged
in pieces––
hanging some of your
work in the gallery
of yet another enterprising
immigrant-Dutch-blood;

none of us that far
from whatever futures,
whatever future impairments:
“The Bridge of St. Luis Rey,”
notions of objects
and fragmentary
abstractions: “early onset,”
“late,” “whole.” You

are steady; all teeth,
hairline, (a lot of laughter),
not out to punish anyone,
forehead: careful
thoughtful eyes
and a stubborn (insistent) heart,

a notion always expressing
a larger energetic system.

 

Scott Hightower is the author of four books of poetry in the U.S., and Hontanares, a bilingual collection (Spanish-English) published by Devenir, Madrid. His third book won the 2004 Hayden Carruth Award. Hightower’s translations from the Spanish have garnered him a prestigious Barnstone Translation Prize. When not teaching as adjunct faculty at NYU, the Gallatin School, he sojourns in Spain.