exile’s letter: after Li Bai: for Gene

the candle flickers
the glass empties itself
the wind rustles the flag outside my window
and my thoughts are with you
old friend
you put aside my book to write
to tell me of your heart
memories, you say
of what and who we were, are
you ask when will I return
my company, you say
you sorely miss
I see you
old friend
in a picture on my shelf
your beard now grey
I think
and your hair thin
much like mine
not like in LA
the car ride up Topanga Canyon
at two in the morning
to see a woman we both loved
you huddled on the floor in back
while I drove one-handed
a bottle of scotch in the other
we were crazy then
but somehow survived
you long to hold me close
you say
and I, too, cling to air
we need to share a glass
old friend
let Steve watch us drink ourselves to God
and when the bottle empties
there will be another to uncork
and you and I and Steve
old friend
will retell stories
of pregnant ladies with axes
of Shakespeare in the park
of Leo’s potato salad
of the silence between cuts
and we will laugh
old friend
till the sun peeks through the curtains
and warms the world
once again

8 thoughts on “exile’s letter: after Li Bai: for Gene

  1. masterpiece of a poem to another. captures the closeness of a great friendship and its love, which is often overlooked for the more dramatic romantic relationship. as well it evokes the joy of losing one’s self with another about the “old days” – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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