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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Love Note to a suicide (Evelyn McHale)

This picture is from Life Magazine. On May 1, 1947, Evelyn McHale fell to her death from the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Photographer Robert Wiles took a photo of McHale a few minutes after her death.

I saw this picture in a library as a boy and thought she was the prettiest dead lady I'd ever seen. For real. I don't even want to know what that says about me, doctor, but it makes for some poetry sometimes.

So here she is again, the tragic Evelyn McHale, through the magic of the Internet, and now I have something to say.


You always were a shining star
despite what you were always told
Stay just the way you are,
never ever let yourself grow old.

Though your heart was truly scarred
by what you thought they thought
Your exit choice was just too hard
to win the fight that you fought.

And how am I to simply carry on?
I am undone by your last faithless leap.
No flowers in fields, no manicured lawn
Your memorial is all that is left to keep.

You held your beauty even in death
your style was yet quite committed,
And with your final mint-sweet breath
your apologies you scarcely omitted.

How I wish I had known how to hold your heart
With the grace and the love it deserved
For now we are fated to forever be apart
as the track of your life’s ending swerved.

Would that I could undo your last deed
And walk with you under warm summer skies.
If only I was able to answer the cold need
that I still see in your death-dimmed eyes.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I just don't care. No, really, I find it difficult to give a rat's hairy heiny about rigorously writing, working hard, succeeding. But like most Americans, it is because I really don't give a big fat hairy damn about an awful lot of things.

Don't get me wrong. The things I do care about I stand behind come hell or high water. Family, Loyalty, Love. However, it is a short list. I get riled when it affects me or mine, but a typhoon a world away is no more worry to me than a delayed train. People, and I include myself in that count, are mostly disregarding types, unless we choose not to be.


People never want to get lost anymore.
Damn shame, really.
That’s how we found that hidden mural in the North End,
learned how to blow glass,
started listening to fugazi
and fell in love.

I want to help, really I do.
That’s why I ripped
the odd pages from your atlas,
sucker-punched your GPS,
and that is why
you ended up in Dorchester
when you asked for directions
to Fenway Park.

People never want to get dirty anymore
which is a pity,
because that is how we ended up
sleeping under shooting stars,
how we grew miles worth of calluses,
and getting dirty is the only way
to truly appreciate clean.

In order to assist, I extended myself,
hid your keys in the compost heap,
spit in your face and called it a kiss,
decorated your kitchen with dirty dishes,
and left stains in your salted, twisted sheets.

People are deathly afraid of being hungry anymore,
sadly enough,
that is how we counted the miles
on our bony ribcage,
humped boxes of produce
in order to score some lettuce
and collapsed on Heartbreak Hill.

But I am here for you,
so I squeezed the grapes of wrath
and drank the juice,
bleated sheep-like
into the drive-thru microphone,
and brought wine to the brewery.

People are always tired,
and that’s too bad,
because that is why we yawn
when celebutants act like fools
or wars in foreign lands intrude.

We roll over and hit the snooze when
children die from neglect,
or a stray bullet
intended for a teenager,
or a parent ill-equipped to cope.
We find the cool side of the pillow
rather than get dirty, or lost, or hungry.