I hear your time ran out last night.
Some freak, random medical catastrophe.
What were you? No more than 42, I guess.
Healthy guy. Fit. Gone now forever.
Not so long ago I saw you in the news
after you’d talked a guy down off a bridge.
That fit you so well,
a philosopher and a humanist
even back in high school.
I remember talking with you
with zealous teenage gravitas
and the Grateful Dead.
Strangely enough, the clearest memory I have of you
is that day you turned around in geography class and said,
“Do you realize most people
think time is linear?”
This, of course, a teenage ploy
to draw me into asking,
“Time isn’t linear?”
I bit the bait.
You educated me.
You were that kind of guy.
Never accepting easy answers.
Lover of reason,
but always more concerned with the humanity
than with winning the argument.
You understood what was important,
So, the news that you’d talked someone down from a bridge
didn’t surprise me at all.
It fit perfectly, actually.
I said to a friend, “Of course S. talked a guy
down from a bridge.
Could it have gone any other way?”
What most decidedly did not fit, however,
was the news that you’ve passed on, suddenly.
So strange to think you’re gone now, man.
My friend tells me he paid you fifty dollars
to put a fish head in your mouth in science class.
Part of me wants to say something cynical
about the fickleness of life,
but nah, man. You’d not have wanted that.
You weren’t that kind of dude.
To hell with the defeatism. To hell with death, too, while we’re at it.
It’s just a rumor spread by the living
about people who are no longer around
to tell us the truth.
So, I hope you’re having fun wherever you are, man.
Thank you for the memories.
Robert Hunter passed a few days ago, as well.
Cool to think of the two of you
riding an old Volkswagen bus into Eternity,
live Dead blaring from the speakers.
Wherever you are now,
I hope you’re digging it.
Just don’t put any fish heads in your mouth, dude,
not even for fifty bucks.
People remember that shit forever.