Friday, June 17, 2016


(photo by Charles Bernstein)

"love returns what you sent"  —Ted Greenwald (from The Life)

Ted Greenwald was my beloved friend since the first time we met in New York in the early 1970s. He was a much more consistent friend than I was, as he was consistent in every way. He had the same unpretentious haircut and casual clothes style the entire time I knew him (with the later addition of glasses the only concession to time passing that I ever saw).

He was also a consistently original poet and writer and thinker and conversationalist and observer and minimalist (despite also being one of the most prolific poets ever, including writing book length poems, but always in his minimalist style, as his takes on his life and his surroundings were succinct in detail and rendering, even when they did go on...if that makes any sense, and I hope it would to him)...and the author of not only a unique poetic style but of one of the most original approaches to an autobiography (CLEARVIEW/LIE) in existence...

His sister, the filmmaker Maggie Greenwald summarized him best in these lines: "He was brilliant, infuriating, prolific, erudite, tough, all NYer all the time, a badass till the end. He loved a good conversation most of all...I adored him."

And here, from a 1977 book NATIVE LAND is his poem (and an example of his skill and originality):


Airy rushes punch my shirt
Through a window of sunset dirt
And send me reeling like a lure
Through the water nerves of America
Once on the other side of somewhere
I relax and become someone else
Not that I behave different
Just behave less often
The sky offers me solace and office space
And stars I keep in drawers
Wear nothing
But a little mist and halo
I will imagine myself
A sympathetic headlight
Knocking on the door of the night
To borrow a cup of sugar
From the beautiful neighbor
Who's moved in
Without even the clothes on her back
"Would it be possible
To borrow a cup of sugar"
"Sure     Sit down
Make yourself comfortable"
I ease down in the big dipper

1 comment:

tpw said...

Beautiful take on our great friend. There's a part of me that resists and resents these brief remembrances, mine included. It almost feels like a kind of betrayal even just to speak of a friend in the past tense.