the day between (eleven verses for stuart)

I

stuart would have been 74 tomorrow
but he didn’t quite get there

got a text yesterday
from alex
a young gay man
whom he befriended
a couple years ago

(stu was forever
meeting younger people)

the text read
have news about stuart
call when you can

over the past couple months
stu had taken on that gaunt
old guy look
he wore it well

attitudinally
he’d been that guy
for quite some time

II

I visited him a couple weeks ago
at the SRO
turned hotel
where he lived

it was hectic in his room that day
some drama about his insulin shot
we got to exchange some smiles
and a few words

leaving
i thought
this could be the last time
i see stu

III

we met in ‘81
can’t remember who made the entre

in the middle of the drought that summer
he showed up at my place
in a rental car
with 15 pounds of shit Mexican

i got a 24 hour front
he said
let’s see what we can do

we made the rounds
of some small dealers I knew

sold it all
split the proceeds

on such things
lifetime friendships
are cemented

IV

he had a knack
for finding suppliers
he called them
connects

which was strange in a way
because he was a loner type
didn’t go out much
even in the disco days

(it was more like people found him)

V

stu was no hippie
he was solidly beatnik
got his first apartment
on bleecker street
in 1961

there were no longhairs then
no jefferson airplane
no grateful dead
not even any dylan
just scruffy jug bands and poets

VI

stu liked people
and conversation
he had a way with words
and a terse timeless attitude

a few years ago
we were talking about a
documentary that had just come out
about the Sixties

he said
boy we were angry back then
with such a sense
of wide eyed discovery

like he’d never realized that before

a more recent conversation was about
how you couldn’t buy
legal weed
in colorado
with a credit card

he said
bankers and hippies
trying to make
an honest dollar

made me smile
and shake my head yeah

VII

stu liked music
mainly jazz and blues
went to the jam sessions at
cleopatra’s needle

sometimes he’d sit in
on self taught harmonica
even got a real blues sound
when in the right mood

VIII

stu liked money
at least he liked
talking about it

a lot of guys sold weed
to make money
stu made money
so he could sell weed

he understood you had to be
at least a little bit capitalized
to have that lifestyle

a few years ago
he had saved up
about 20 grand
a little nest egg

but he blew it
on recreational drugs
and call girls

a diabetic
with a heart condition
and whatever else
partying with hookers

(he outlived
many of those
younger people
who found him)
IX

stu loved drugs
binged well
into his seventies

on quirky stuff

he was into angel dust
during the crack era

had a thing for ibogaine
but never had a smack habit
which ibogaine
is supposed to cure

X

politically
we were both independents
he considered himself a green

was even active with them
periodically

we’d share news
and sardonic comments
about the state of things

he was a quiet peaceful
simple man
who lived in our loud violent
complicated world

XI

i’m sad he’s gone

did we love each other?
yeah
i suppose

in an understated
unstated
kind of way

when i first heard the news
i thought of the closing lyrics
of that last unfinished
jimi hendrix song

the story
of life is quicker
than the wink of an eye
the story of love
is hello and goodbye
until we meet again

see you around, stu

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One thought on “the day between (eleven verses for stuart)”

  1. David, I enjoyed this piece – read it forward then backward. I enjoy your writing style, now with poetry, where I feel drawn in by its ordinariness. Stu will hang with me for while. Thank you – Joan

    Like

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