Here I am thanking you for this fine copy
of Jack Spicer’s posthumous
“One Night Stand and Other Poems”
(Grey Fox Press, 1980),
introductions by Donald Allen and Robert Duncan.

It’s such a rare little bird,
I was careful to purify my hands
before sliding it out of its clear Mylar sleeve.

I was careful, too, when I turned the pages,
but when Jesus began making out his will
and Alice in Wonderland went missing from the chessboard,
the book had to be restrained from taking flight
and flapping its many wings against a window pane.

So now, the front cover is bent back a little
like a clam with its shell slightly ajar
the way Spicer’s mouth could look sometimes
when we would see him at Gino and Carlo
or in the park by the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul,
where he would often sit cross-legged under a shade tree.


There on hot summer afternoons
he would suffer the company of young poets
if they observed the courtesy of arriving
with cold quart bottles of Rainier Ale,
as green as the sports section of the paper.

It was a practice that my friend Tom
and I and his friend A. B. Cole followed religiously.
Spicer even called us “The Jesuits”
for he knew where we had gone to school.

To be imperfectly truthful,
I was intimidated by his reality—
a lonely homosexual adult
who dressed funnily in summery shirts
and baggy pants, belt buckle to the side,
his sad moon-face pocked as the moon itself,
and with a name like a medieval vender’s.


He would talk about poetics,
of which we knew nothing,
and about the other Berkeley poets,
but we poetry juniors felt more at home
when he talked about Willie McCovey
and we would be on to another still cold quart.

Then a forceful wind came off the Bay
and blew Jack Spicer away, found a year later at 40
on the floor of an elevator going neither up nor down.

Later still, Tom would be blown over a golden bridge,
his soft inner arm full of holes,
and I sadly lost track of the sardonic Andy Cole.

And here I still remain,
more than twice Spicer’s final age,
rolling through the pages of his little book,

listening to his bewildering birds,
and watching Beauty walk, not like a lake
but among the coffee cups and soup tureens,


causing me to open my hands
and allow this green aeronaut of paper
to lift off and fly around my yellow house
and beat its wings against glass
as the thrilling sky continues to change
slowly from blue to black
then, miraculously, back to blue once more.