For Tom Sullivan
Hey Sul, we were brothers back then, geniuses
at the reservoir, obliterated but not once drowned.
Strung out and guitar minded, we laughed
where girls wouldn’t go.
We estranged Staten Island, blurred all its yellow lines.
I grubbed for cigs and you grinned at my Ginsbergian poems.
Seventeen, you drove a Dodge Dart and I walked a lot.
We spent brain cells in bars, wasted wishes
on hot girls who found us hysterical but not quite.
Sul, one summer we thumbed and middle fingered our way
across America, remember? But it was those black-eyed
Native dudes in Minnesota who got a piece of historical revenge
when they took our money and didn’t come back with the goods.
We tried to fish Hemingway out of the Big Two-Hearted River
but Papa fought us like a son of a bitch,
so we waded in without poles just to feel the clean copper cool
of a river that didn’t ooze with Jersey oil.
West, we ascended into rocky space like grimy seraphim.
We fell asleep on switchbacks. We were skinny as tree line pines,
our songs had no radio, our hair was dirt-long but shampooed
by the sexy fingertips of the sun.
Way up on Longs Peak, we reflected weird in a pair of mountain girls’
azure eyes. We grinned a “Hey” and watched their beauty descend
giggling from the summit. Their loss, we laughed, ha ha, their loss,
and we headed down, headed home, thin soled and undefiled yet again,
headed east to figure ourselves into the rest of our lives.
Yo, Sul, you think those years of lust and rebel and howl
left some trace of wayward in our blood for good? I do. Now
and then I wonder how you’ve been. I hope you’re aging
with a grace that’s smoky and fierce. I don’t imagine
you ever gave in. Me, I’m still writing my gravel and dust poems.
For who? I couldn’t say. Doesn’t matter. I know this for sure:
I’m doing what I want to do.