He was a New England poet with one metaphoric and poetic foot in the New York School and one in the "L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E" poetry school, though he might have disagreed with that. But to my mind he evoked the poet Bill Berkson—who was at the heart of the first generation New York School poets, collaborating with Frank O'Hara for instance—not just because of their similar well-groomed almost old fashioned kind of attractiveness, but also the cryptic snippets of imagery and philosophical and real-world personal data that had the kind of surface tension that at first glance seems totally impersonal but resonates with a deeper completely personal take on their time passing through.
He was a teacher as well as a tree surgeon, as I remember it, and was associated with a lot of other New England and Berkshire artists and poets in particular, but he was a total original to my mind. He will be missed.
PS: Here's a poem I just found on the web that I think displays what I'm trying to describe above (I hope the lines breaks work):
[PPS: and a link to a brief but great interview with Michael]
CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT
The father in exile stripped of his sundial borrows the equator for a belt.
All his life his life had yet to start, coming of age was the end.
You think about genetics, would think, well,
maybe a whole other life is possible. Maybe noon would rather be midnight.
The humble Hellebore becomes a rock star thanks to intelligent design. Coziness
cradles him like rage. “He hid under his bed when he lived with his mother!”
One branch of the family is antiseptic, another a lecture on prickers.
Everything else is made up.