Dear Jack

by Christopher Russell

Hi Jack, is what I want to say.

But at this moment
there’s this little voice loving its perch,
screwed into a reflection
revolving the back of my head,
bopping my frontal lobe up and down
like a lollipop kid from Oz,
who’s barking into my spirit’s inner ear:
What in the hell are you doing
writing this letter to a dead guy!

Since the only letters I ever wrote,
I wrote into the soft side of a fungus
I’d earlier snapped off the side of a tree
and dried out in the sun.

In this way I guess I grew up
using death and decay as paper,
as the vehicle
through which the printed word
got communicated, as my messenger.

But if I were to take each thing about this
weird almost purist form of letter writing
           into me,
I’d say all I ever really did writing those letters,
was send myself into the heart of hearts:
The passage of our bodies
and whatever snaps off of them
into the next question,
the next unknowing changing its color
underneath something like your “alien sun,”

which later I’d also want to take into me,
longing for that mystical experience,
that spiritual intimacy
all mystics spend the minutes of their days
trying to convince themselves
is a normal, everyday fantasy,
everyone thinks of constantly,
but never admits to marrying.

Still, I’m learning
there are all forms of being alone.
I remember the first time you asked me
if I was done playing with myself,
when all my running at the mouth
to finally get nothing whatsoever out,
was shooting wads into my eye,
and patching me up into the pirate
of his own one way ship to the island of
Noonegivesashitbecauseyoudont,
which is located just off the coast of
Whatareyoumostafraidof.

And while it seems kind of ridiculous to say
           I’ll miss you,
since you’re already somewhere beyond the grave
by now, boxing with the Gods,
it seems pertinent to mention
the last thing you said to me on Facebook,
after I told you I’d sent another manuscript out
to one of those first book contests
I probably shouldn’t be sending out to,
and certainly can’t afford,

which was that you’d sent one out to the same contest.
A coincidence that seemed to spark the fighter in you,
who was then, in your loving, Jack Myers kind of way,
wondering
“Will the student be able to kill his master?”
I believe is what you wrote me.

The answer, Jack, even though I cried for you
more than I did my own father last night,
is obviously, and still is, no.
I love you.  Thank you for teaching me
it’s not wrong to make Me the “tea” of my poetry.
Somehow you knew that’s what I wanted.