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All Around You

October 13, 2011

roots of angkor

When I was about 31, a woman I knew invited me to a poetry event to hear this cute guy she had a crush on read his work. Their relationship flared and grew and faded, but by then I was hooked on writing and reading poetry, and the poet she introduced me to had become a good friend.

Because he was too big a spirit for our little backwater town, he packed a suitcase and moved to San Francisco. After a few visits up there, he and I lost touch for the most part. We didn’t have a falling out – our lives just took radically different paths. I heard via a mutual friend that he had died last weekend after a long illness.

I want to post a poem he wrote a long time ago. It is one of my favorite poems, and I would like it to stay out in the world. I also wanted his longtime partner, Betty Blue, to see it, in case she hadn’t read it, since it was written before they met.

Blessed be, Jack. Travel light and journey lightly.

All Around You

When I die
fold me naked
Into the
Beautiful black flesh of the earth.
No coffin fortress
Against my mother,
No formaldehyde
Lip stitching denial
Of the
Soft Machinery of life.
Let the gentle sex
Of the probing root life
Trail downward
Along the white arches
Of my cathedral bones.
Let the holy orgy
Of the earth
Fill my domed skull
With the
Gentle loving of the world.
Each year
Fold me naked
Back into the warm flesh of my mother
And I will become the loving earth.
I will spread my spirit
On the wind.
I will have eyes of
Green roses.
I will have
Blood in the sea,
I will have
A consciousness of grass,
And I will have
Arms in all the green
Hills of the world.
Arms vast enough at last
To hold all my million children.
From my warm bed
I will be the sun’s lover
And a
Magical brother to the moon.
I will trail
Sidelong and downstream
And I will be your food,
Alive in every
Apple fruit,
Awake in the falling
Arc of each cherry blossom.
Once dead
And in the earth,
Now immaculately dissolved,
I will be there when you
Burst the veiny flesh of a peach.
I will be all around you
And silently knowing,
This is my body
Bursting for you.
Pass me
Hand to human hand
And lip to perfect lip.
Let my name dissolve
With my flesh
But when you
Drink the blood
And eat the smooth flesh of the earth,
I will be alive,
And awake,
And all around you.

Jack Random

Photo by David Pham. Used under a Creative Commons license.

  1. October 13, 2011 17:11

    I love the poem; he was obviously very talented.

    • October 14, 2011 08:38

      Yes, and good-looking, too. I’m sorry he had to leave so early.

  2. October 13, 2011 17:52

    Wow. Amazing. Reads like a song.

    • October 14, 2011 08:38

      I always loved that poem and wanted to make sure it had a home on the internet. He was a remarkable person and poet.

  3. October 14, 2011 09:57

    Wow. That’s amazing. Really beautiful.

    • October 14, 2011 15:19

      It’s a lovely thought, too. My sis was buried in the Pacific, and now when I look out, I always say hi to her there.

  4. October 14, 2011 13:56

    I love the ideas in this poem. No formaldehyde. No box. Just a return to the earth. Savasana , corpse pose, or final relaxation pose, is also known as the practice of dying. This poem reminds me of that.

    Also, something similar happened with me and a friend last month. Surprising how the loss stings.

    • October 14, 2011 15:21

      Corpse pose always feels like cheating to me. Can I do corpse pose all the time and say “I do yoga every day?”

  5. October 14, 2011 14:38

    You have me crying in a Blissdom Canada session. I’m sorry he’s gone.

    • October 14, 2011 15:20

      Sorry to make you cry in a session! Love your tender heart.

  6. October 15, 2011 10:43

    What a beautiful poem. What a talented writer. You were lucky to have known him. Thank you for carrying his work on.

  7. October 30, 2011 20:11

    Reading this for the first time was probably a powerful experience, but knowing that he has already passed… intense.

    Thanks for sharing Jack.

  8. October 31, 2011 12:51

    As a poet whose very first attempts were about death, this falls on particularly appreciative ears. It’s said that as long as living people still remember you, you haven’t really died. You have helped Jack live on…

    • October 31, 2011 15:05

      Thanks, Lorien. I think Jack will live on for a long time. He was a memorable character.

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