The obit placed the day as April 5, 2008
Nine days shy of his fifty-fourth.
He passed in McKeesport-two miles from my house.
I didn’t know he was here; or ill. If he was.
We had lost touch twenty years ago, after working a couple of playwright’s festivals.
Writing, rewriting, rehearsing, drinking, building sets, cooking chili, drinking…
You get to know a guy.
He was a poet-
He was a teacher-
He was a pretty good friend for a while there.
He would hold court on the South Side before the great upheaval-
In a little shot & beer joint on a side street where
They sold copies of his “Steel Living” across the bar.
Politics, unions, religion, the legend of the Great Thunderbird-
He would talk just enough to start an argument-on the South Side then about a minute-
Then sit back and drink in the sounds.
He listened as I worked through words; trying to decide whether
Writing was an addiction that had worked its way into my bloodstream.
He was my first editor-
A brutal critic-
Reading my poems aloud in his actor’s voice he would toss words that I loved aside like cabbage leaves,
Then leave me a kernel that was right and true.
After doing it, I told him about a retaining wall I had built in front of my house.
“You should have called me,” he said. “I would have loved to help you with that.”
He would have too.
He had to content himself with coming by,
Drinking a few beers,
And telling me how I could have done it better.
Gerald U. Musinsky