For John Kelly (1959-1992)
You loved the intrigue and the dangers
in your flings with handsome strangers,
so planned for this, one last affair,
a visit to a pied-a-terre
with him of the perpetual grin,
black-clad, imperious, and thin,
that most significant other,
who would put you back together
by granting you a happy ending.
With him, it’s always “the real thing.”
Now, at Holy Sepulchre Park,
in summary of your short arc,
we praise you in the present tense
as though by speech we might make sense
of senselessness. As you, we’re forced
to admit our own intercourse
with death whose clever seduction
is not negation, or destruction,
but acceptance. Some may desire
to give to darkness all their fire
and lose themselves in that embrace;
you sought there a state of grace.
Left behind, we shall conjure up
some place for you in our gossip
about those gone, imagining
a heaven, for the time being,
in which you shall stay beautiful,
if part of a different circle.
Chris Bullard is the author, most recently, of the poetry collection Grand Canyon (WordTech Editions, 2015) and the chapbook Dear Leatherface (Kattywompus Press, 2014). His work has appeared in the journals Rattle, River Styx, Pleiades, and Green Mountains Review, among others. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and his M.F.A. from Wilkes University. A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Chris now lives in Collingswood, New Jersey.
This poem appears in the collection Back (WordTech Communications, 2013) and is posted by permission of the author.