To Clayton, On Your Suicide

You have
escaped the earth,
ironically, by
pounding yourself
into it. I
wonder how
your body looked
after falling
forty-four
stories from
the top floor
of the
Marriott Hotel.
Was it bizarrely
mangled, like
Beetle Bailey
in the comic strips
after Sarge
wallops him?
Or did you
land on
your feet
and transform
into a midget?
You died, at
least, with
your trademark
humor — grim
and
incautious.

I will follow
you, but I hope
not soon, and not
in the same manner.
I hope to die
at 90, in a
large, well-made
bed, surrounded
by friends, grandchildren,
children, wives,
acolytes. My last act
will be to
free
my slaves,
and my last
words will be:
tre amor brevis
fugit deus,

which everyone
will look up
in the encyclopedia,
and then remark, “How he
improved upon
Cicero!”

But you died
at 35, probably
high on crack,
heroin, and
beer (will
there be a coroner’s report?),
and
you
didn’t
even get a funeral.

You believed the
Apocalypse was
coming — why
didn’t you
stay around
and wait for it?

It may really
be coming.

I woke last
night with
the horrible
gathering fear
that I, too,
would kill
myself.

Shame on you,
Clayton!
Dying that way!
A coward’s
death.
Alone.

I say this
because you
loved such
talk.
You thought it
was sexy.
And it is.

I love you,
Clayton,
or loved you,
whichever you
prefer,
and I say
that because
you loved
that kind of
talk, too.

You thought it
was sexy.
And it is.

A New Letter To Clayton

Clayton,

Since you died, I have
sensed your presence
more vividly than I did
during your life — perhaps
because in life
you were often stoned, and in
death you have kicked drugs.
Also, in life you lived
uptown, on the
corner of 50th Street and
8th Avenue, and now you live
everywhere, and can float
around in my mind.

Part of the pain of your suicide
is that it has blurred the line
between life and death.
I feel I have a friend in
death the way I have a friend,
for example, in the Philippines.

And I feel I am going
insane, because I hear you
whispering to me.

So I propose a collaboration:
that we write a book
together, sewing together death
and life. I will receive
all the money and fame, and
you will receive precious contact
with the earth. Is it a
deal?

Good. That’s settled.

Love,
Sparrow

Roach

I killed
a cockroach,
then I thought,
“Maybe it
was you, Clayton.”

It looked like
you, a bit —
hesitant and
sleek.
And its
shiny exoskeletal
coat
resembled
the black leather
jacket
you usually
wore.

(Perhaps God
rewards
suicides
with bug
incarnations.)

I’m sorry
if it was
you, Clayton.
I didn’t
think before
I acted,

though I
mourned
you
briefly
in the
kitchen
afterwards.