Luke Meizen, one of our Mongolia-based correspondents, sends this poem, inspired by his readings of Frank O'Hara and Kenneth Koch:
To Excitable Kenneth Koch
You wouldn't know me, uh, sir. I was introduced
by Frank O'Hara. He didn't mean
for it to happen (you knew before I did
that he's dead). I think he liked you.
I was introduced again by Mark.
His name is less famous, but he
had a lot more to say. He was saying it,
one time, when I went downstairs to fetch more whiskey
and to look in the bathroom mirror.
There are several panes of glass.
In that bathroom, I can see the back of my head so
I like to evaluate my haircut and posture
before I climb back up to the bookshelf.
Had we not met, I would not have thought
this a poetic detail. Now I do.
There it was.
You are gloriously unfamiliar, a friend of a friend
of a generation. I have known writers before -
there was Jack, first, my mad burning mentor.
That relationship made me more important
to myself when I realized I hadn't done anything yet.
That relationship was subject to revision
I also had Bruce. We met by accident, a friend
again. He came along on other accidents
that I have since re-named adventures.
They both died young. My literary friendships
Mr. Koch, how did you live so long.
I am only beginning to consider the proposition
of growing so old.
What I have learned, in passing,
in glimpses, as if from many headlines
on a blocks' worth of newsstands,
I learned while building the somber foundation
of a monument to myself. When I heard
what I heard, and I heard it from you,
I chortled, no, I giggled, and went about
constructing a wink. So, you,
Excitable Kenneth Koch, the missionaries you made,
and the list of names in which I found you
are the reasons I have hung my melancholy
with little pieces of colorful string.