Remembering Jim Whitehead
Larry Johnson

“The sad parabola of morning sex—“
a line you spoke one time in workshop, which
I’ve kept for 43 years so now perhaps
this is the time to unveil it, all too late.
“Poem found under a rock,” “six images
in search of a metaphor”—these just more of your wit,
and titles I’ve lusted to use but never found
poems to match until today. The first
time we met I said, remembering that picture
on your slim volume (“which was taken at
a hippie wedding”), “Hey, you’ve got a mustache.”
“Yes, and I am acutely aware of its presence.”
Those words I remembered through mustaches come and gone,
always aware of your presence through weeds, sweat, books,
like the force of nature you always wanted to be,
driving me mad as hell, then charming me
to accept it all—just dust on a gravel road.

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