I hope you read good poetry now and then. Great poetry is of course even better. This week I've been reading the poetry of David Rigsbee, an amazing poet who grew up in a little house across the street from the home of my youth, his father a musician who had given up his performance dreams to have a son and then another, and took a job at the cigarette factory in town to support his family. And one boy, my funny and daring best friend in childhood, on a fraught day of anguish, shot himself dead. And the other grew up to perform, but with words. As I'm about to finish his third book of verse, I decided to write him my appreciation like this:
A Man Stretched Across The Hall, Four Feet Up
A philosopher, an older Yale trained logician and master of modality dedicated to defending the faith liked to walk outside my door like the rock climber he was, feet on the wall, soles pressing the paint as his hands pushed the opposing vertical face, shoving hard as if to relocate it inches farther back,
but then his body wouldn't span the full gap as your poems do so well, pressing the mundane, the small quotidian detail on one side, and keenly stretched to the metaphysical extreme on the other, caught between the concrete particulars of a flower or a bee or a gun, but with greater meanings
and longings tattooed on you, and now me, as on a father’s arm, intensely aware of the quick passing, evanescent, transient nature of all that we see and love and feel—and we're never really armed for that, are we?
But if I convey my appreciation like this, it’s as if a chimpanzee took a volume of Kant and opened it and stood on a podium, wearing a little suit
and said, “Chee, chee, chee” with a sound like a quotation from Confucius or Lao Tsu or one of their disciples on life energy—but we know better, and get it that he’s just monkeying around. And so, we can laugh.