citizen of a nation not yet born,
architect of unadorned castles,
assembling his ragtag crew without tools,
his rambling army without weapons,
never for hire,
his university in the kitchen,
and bawling them all out,
crocheting samplers of Reason to hang on the wall
instead of diplomas,
practicing the simple delights of grey cloth
plucking an abacus
in the cluttered library.
Corrupter of youth, city’s peripatetic,
tilting at office buildings,
cranky uncle who never approved
and always had to be consulted,
who helped me grow up
a little less absurd.
It will not be a matter of disciples,
more the original meaning of “gone to seed”
for the man who walked alone
dourly whistling a song I can’t get out of my mind
even after he has vanished around the corner.
August 31, 1972