A Poem Most Won’t Like

In the autumn of 1971, i was a brash young sports writer at the Watertown (NY) Daily Times who believed in the sanctity of news journalism. i had been taught well by J.B.Leftwich at Castle Heights Military Academy; Fred Russell, the sports editor; Bob Roberts, the managing sports editor, and Waxo Green, George Leonard, Mike Flemming, and Edgar Allan, the other sports reporters at the Nashville Banner. i was also fresh off three years as a Navy officer  and had learned to be responsible and accountable.

A young reporter covered a death in town and his report and the lack of editing of the story really ate me up and i went nuclear on my good friend and publisher-in-waiting, John “Yanch” Johnson. Yanch calmed me down, and i went home to grumble to myself.

That night,  i wrote this poem, with some minor edits today. i found it in yet another folder of stuff i’m trying to wean down. i had forgotten it. Strange in that the event really hit me, and i remember feeling such a forlornness, sadness for the old guy who really had no one. i am not sure anyone could  ascertain if the fall was caused by an epileptic fit, but it made more sense than suicide, and i was even distraught his name wasn’t even included in the first paragraph of the news story.

It is not a happy piece, but it is mine, and it is me:

a view of death hurdled from a fifth floor window

no one heard
his epileptic call of delight
later, no one would even know
the crass and un-smiled-upon disease
had crashed his brain
as he leaped
from his fifth floor room window
with that call of delight
his mind raced onward
into the ecstasy of madness
as he dwindled toward oblivion
but yet,
not quite oblivion
even though his wish for recognition
would also be buried
amidst the headline of
“Man Killed In Fall Out of Window;”
even his name was plummeted
into the obscurity of
second paragraphville;
his falling from grace, even in his delight
from the YMCA’s fifth floor,
past the gym of happiness
showers of cleanliness
against the cobbler’s sign,
which should have been symbolic
even that was coincidental,
“the concrete of the sidewalk below”
according to the newspaper reporter,
did little to shatter
the stillness of early morning when
the milkman continued to drop his bottles
on the doorsteps, picking up the empties
the bicycled paperboys thudded their paper missiles
against the walls of the porches
long before the sun rose
to meet the day
refusing to yet relent
to storms of winter;
his elevator even disregarded
the sacrifice of delight,
carefully coasting down and up
under the auspices of the new elevator man
whose name no one knew
who would move into the YMCA the next day
so he, that man whom epilepsy had possessed
to end it all with a yell of delight
passed on
in his fit of deathful delight;
not one soul, not even the newspaper reporter,
it was the disease of Caesar.

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