This poem was written in memory of Hal Scharlatt, editor of E.P. Dutton, who died last month.
Your stopped heart is doing something to mine.
Three a.m., and I can’t sleep. Were you alive
this time last night?
I should have spotted
death inside you, Hal. Your eyes got old,
your beard. But the insane fatigue didn’t
make you testy or severe. It brought out
further what will stay with me as you,
a sweetness of presence, a joshing kindness.
Depth of feeling; this is what was you, Hal.
Few words; you weren’t as articulate
as you were a kind of stove of feeling:
one felt your decency. Yet no pushover.
There was energy, anger; seams of irony,
and what gift for the contagion of feeling.
There was more. You spotted the book
within my book and made me bring it out,
twelve hours, eleven to eleven, we sat it out,
knocking heads, yukking, I rewriting one sheet,
you typing the one I finished. Smoking
your filthy cigarettes, I waving off
your smoke. You named one book for me;
thank God I thanked you for and in it;
your name inscribed endears the thing
to me this morning.
Death followed life
too close: father of a three month baby,
another not much older, and a second wife
you loved so much.
So long, dear Hal.
Bless your creations and your memory.
March 21, 1974