Charlie announced once in New York:
we will be friends—and we were friends
for thirty years

He was impatient, high-handed at times,
but he understood that only kindness binds
Tall, with the face of a Spanish nobleman

He headed for his study every morning
like a worker off to the vineyards
armed with great shears of imagination

He wrote slowly, revised his poems time
and again, guiding a line of rapture
from thickets of dense prose

He didn’t seem poetic at first glance
His father sold refrigerators and TVs
But a messenger approached him, spoke in whispers

On summer vacations near Lucca he’d get up first
and in the garden, in his white djellaba from Morocco
he hunched over his black computer

His grandmother said she’d come from Austria,
but she was born in Lvov, before Ellis Island
her name had been Grabowiecka

Friendship is immortal and doesn’t require
many words. It’s patient, calm
Friendship is the prose of love

Four days before he died he lay in bed, weak, wasted
like an Auschwitz prisoner with large black eyes
awaiting liberation