This evening, the sturdy Levi's
I wore every day for over a year
& which seemed to the end
in perfect condition,
How or why I don't know,
but there it was: a big rip at the crotch.
A month ago my friend Nick
walked off a racquetball court,
got into this street clothes,
& halfway home collapsed & died.
Take heed, you who read this,
& drop to your knees now & again
like the poet Christopher Smart,
& kiss the earth & be joyful,
& make much of your time,
& be kindly to everyone,
even to those who do not deserve it.
For although you may not believe
it will happen,
you too will one day be gone,
I, whose Levi's ripped at the crotch
for no reason,
assure you that such is the case.
Pass it on.
Steve Kowit. Text as published in The Dumbbell Nebula (Roundhouse Press, 1999).
Curator's note: We mark the passing of another mindfulness poet, Steve Kowit, who described the writing of poetry as "gloriously good fun ... a delectable game, and yet ... also, at the same time, a high spiritual exercise." Let's remember him with an extended passage from a 2004 interview, which he valued enough to post on his website.
"I want poets to do whatever magic they do while honoring their ability to communicate. The cognitive vacuity of post-modern poetry doesn’t appeal to me at all and I would hope that the younger poets writing take their inspiration from those poets—present and past—who had something of use to say, and who wanted to get it said so that the reader would hear it. That means craft at the service of content. ‘Content’ has been something of a dirty word these past many decades. Write as wildly and uninhibitedly as you wish, but make sure you’re bringing the reader with you. Otherwise, you’re just showing off, just spinning your wheels. But my more general advice would be write as much as you can; read as much as you can; read widely not only in the American tradition and the British tradition, but at the fount of world poetry.... Fall in love with as many poems and poets as you can. When you find poems you love, xerox them or scan them into your computer and compile an anthology. Let it all influence you."