by Barbara Browning, New York University
when push came to shove, you were all talk,
all action. that’s because you knew to hear
how portentous a speech act was: the “wow”
and “gee” of it all, the fun of the yack over coke
– let’s blow this hamburger stand – better late
than never – you were always late, but somehow
way, like way, ahead of the curve. put jelly
on your shoulder, baby. let us do what
you fear most. it was you who let us feel
this world was not enough, that something was
missing. then you blew the hamburger stand.
hm. thanks a lot. no really. thanks a lot.
no, really. i don’t know how to thank you. i think
i may be trying to do it for the rest of my life.
After José passed, I wrote a couple of things for memorial or tribute events or publications, reflections that mixed the personal, the professional and the political, each time noting that he really didn’t differentiate between these things, which was the point … Anyway, as I approached this task one more time, with the prompt to consider a particular keyword or concept of significance to him, I began to write about the role that poetry played in his work – especially his later work. But then I just wanted to write a poem for him, and so I did.
Visit the full José Esteban Muñoz gallery here.