December 22, 2004

passing of local laureate, 73

He played the role of boho to the hilt: sitting night after night at the same table in the same café, in clothes that looked almost as old as he was, scribbling in heavy black ink in a spiral pad with green pages, sometimes looking up to laugh. Often his table was filled with young acolytes striving after poverty, sincerity, and disrepair.

His stuff mostly sounded like Bukowski but he could do the traditional forms too: sonnets, villanelles, a double sestina about the latest military action. Every couple of years he got something accepted by a “real” quarterly, but most of his work he put out himself, in pamphlets financed by his friends.

When he died the paper ran a long obit. The café bought a portrait of him painted in thick oils by one of his artist pals. It hangs between the men’s and women’s rooms, above a dusty rack of his chapbooks, which you can buy, or just pluck and read over your biscotti.

When the college faculty hear his name, they roll their eyes. “Oh, him? Oh, God, some of my students actually like his work, even hung out with him. They actually think he was a poet.”