A letter to Kenneth Patchen on his deathiversary

A few weeks ago, Erik Van Loon of LA Poetry Beach asked the poets of LAPB2021 to write a poem to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Kenneth Patchen’s death on January 8, 2022. I had written a poem to him on his birthday with the theme of “Get Ready To Die” and felt that piece might be better served for a death anniversary. So instead of doing a second death-themed poem, I opted to write him a freeform letter. I think he would have approved:

Happy Deathiversary,

I imagine you’d like us writing poems for you. To shake the trees with the breeze of words read aloud. In this you never left. When the flowers return, I’ll pick a Tiger Lily for you. It is my favorite flower, as the symbology means “For once may pride befriend you.” Sounds sweet, but what of pride and tigers is nice? When respect teeters on arrogance, dignity on conceit; which angel became devil and how could that battle reward the meek until the winner was determined? Reeks of a propagandistic maxim to me. Behold! The tiger has no spots! Look on, Cheetah Lily. Look on, seed. You be the rain if we must cry. You be the thunder if we must roar. We be the laughter in this undead tragedy, watching trash TV, calling idealists naive and the hopeful prideful; but spare the stars not in the sky.

Ken, I like talking to you because what I just said was probably more freeing than odd. I too want to speak all the words; for the angels to be more than sightings of intrinsic phosphene firing from the mind’s magnetic sight. We ride in the hands of a godlike child flying ghost planes through a more visibly sick world. Each night, grown offspring fold their robe of slights in sackcloth palls and sheets of dread. Their causes have waned and with them go covenants…

follow the link to LA Poetry Beach’s website to read the full letter