the angel who pushed his wheelchair

he long ago edited a little magazine
it was up in San Francisco
during the beat era
during the reading-poetry-with-jazz experiments
and I remember him because he never returned my manuscripts
even though I wrote him many letters
humble letters, sane letters, and, at last, violent letters;
I’m told he jumped off a roof while stoned
because a woman wouldn’t love him.
no matter.   when I finally saw him
he was in a wheelchair and carried a wine bottle to piss in;
he wrote a very delicate poetry
that I, naturally, couldn’t understand;
he autographed me his book which he said I wouldn’t like,
and once at a party I threatened to beat him,
but I was drunk and he wept–
I took pity and instead hit the next one who walked by
over the head with his piss bottle; so,
we had an understanding after all,
and he had this very thin & intense woman
pushing him about, she was his arms and legs and
maybe for a while
his heart…
it was almost a common happening
at poetry readings where he wasn’t scheduled on the bill
to see her swiftly rolling him in,
sometimes stopping by me, saying,
“I don’t see how we are going to get him on the stage!”
sometimes she didn’t.   often she didn’t.

then she began writing poetry, I didn’t see much of it,
but, somehow, I was glad for her.
then she fell on her head while doing an exercise
and then she had ATD, and again I was glad for her,
all the poets wanted to get on ATD
it was almost better than immortality.
I met her in the A & P one day
in the bread section, and she held my hands and
trembled all over
and I wondered if they ever had sex
those two.   well, they had the muse anyhow
and she told me she was writing poetry and articles
but really a lot of poetry, she was really writing a lot,
and that’s the last I saw of her
until one night somebody told me she’d o.d.’d
and I said, no, not her
and they said, yes, her.

it was a day or so later
sometime in the afternoon
I had to go to the Los Feliz postoffices
to mail some dirty stories to a sex mag…
coming back
outside a church
I saw there smiling creatures
so many of them smiling
the men with black beards and long hair and
bluejeans
and most of the women blonde
with sunken cheeks and tiny grins,
and I thought, ah, a wedding,
a nice hippy intellectual but old-fashioned wedding,
and then I saw him on the outer sidewalk
tragic yet somehow calm
looking greyer, a profile like a tamed hawk,
and I knew it was a funeral,
she had really o.d.’d
and he did look tragic out there.

I really do have feelings, you know.

maybe tonight I’ll try to read his book.