by Eugene Schlanger
We begin again to recall the dead.
Poets and lyricists often attempt
To reimagine their companions and friends.
And then, along comes a younger death
That upsets the usual complacency.
At our luncheons all things seemed possible,
As Gerald’s laughter loudly reverberated,
Because extraordinary times do require
Extraordinary and sometimes tricky replies:
The old views, revived, and again alive.
Most will assume I am the maker of this poem,
And my role is to eulogize, to give expression,
As we Zoom through this November, 2021,
So that others may know the man—his acts and intents—
But wiser Gerald knew otherwise.
That’s the fallacy of creativity: that (somehow)
Created and creator are of equal measure,
And importance; and to value a work requires
Slavish attention to author as well as book.
Gerald laughed at that, and wrote about it too.
Word comes from a mutual friend,
Whose daughter has read the tweet from
The University Bookman; and our worlds pause,
As the clouds darken, this Western afternoon,
But only momentarily because…
Among all the factions, and the corruption,
There is always the laughter and the light.
Lone pilgrims are mightier than great synods;
Christ went among ordinary women and men;
And Gerald hosted a centuries-old discussion.
Many assume lives are lived in one space,
And only a few sometimes embody the Faith,
And can recreate and convey the meaning
That can sustain the latest innocents
Through the latest massacre.
Wandering and wondering are far more complicated than that,
And the secret of those who wander and wonder
(Sometimes stopping in Manhattan’s churches too,
As Gerald and Jim and I have done) is—
Acceptance: what is known is not known.
That complication, like Time’s great tourbillon,
Adds to the mechanics, and may be beyond
The scope of the self-proclaimed all-powerful
(Who are powerless) and their panderers: more
Fodder for the satirists. In Midtown restaurants
We twisted words and events, and turned phrases,
As le monde went on its subway, and some
Forecast civilization’s spiral and end, unaware
Of Gerald who enthralled, and entertained us too:
Reciting and reviving impossible improbable Truth.
Family will mourn husband and father.
Colleagues will mourn another lawyer.
And Jim and I, one day, in Hell’s Kitchen,
Will raise a glass to our departed philosopher-friend,
Yet Gerald is not gone.
I hear his laughter, I see his gleaming smile.
I have his emails, essays, live interviews.
Life then has become ethereal: that space
Between past and present, then and now,
Where ideas still alight.
So too, one day, in the unimaginable heavens
(That are brighter than every celebrated palace)
One day, if and when, I will sit again
Among Gerald and Jim, and others too,
And listen to their raconteur and laughter.
Is that all any person or poet can wish,
At this moment, that is known, or the next?
Or is Death just the last course, the dessert,
The reward, for the hot pursuit of truth,
And all will always mourn a passion’s end?
To some, children and words are all that is,
All that has become of Gerald Russello,
Born in Brooklyn, a mere fifty years ago.
Others know how such simplicity belies
The complex and unknowable life. Except—
This much can be believed, repeated, inferred:
Among your companions, some do embody
All that makes life timeless, and borderless,
And all that is possible and always always probable.
Lives may end, but stars do not dim.
Fare thee well my friend.
Until we meet again…
What’s next to discuss—
Propertius, Aquinas, Burke, or Kirk?
“All that!” Gerald snapped, and then laughed.
Eugene Schlanger, the Wall Street Poet, is the author of September 11 Wall Street Sonnets.
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