Photo by Mike Bird on

I will see you later was inspired by William Carlos Williams, an American poet I stumbled on as a teenager. I loved poetry and got turned on by verses that dodged cliches and said something simple and genuine.

With a little luck, I hope I did him justice.

I will see you later

What will it be like on the day when

the paint peels off and only strangeness remains?

Will the walls crumble or melt or something else?

The edifice that comes down is hauled away

like a child’s outgrown toys.

Travelers say there’s a brightness, a signaling.

But not turned on by the light,

I’ve always known the Big Deal was there.

Nobody has to die for that.

But what I want to know — 

if I was Leonard Cohen, I’d claim

it’s the only thing I want to know — 

what I want to know is where I can find you, 

among the uncountable unknowns.

Is the entourage larger for a loner committed

to serial friendships? Depends, I bet,

on how many left the party early.

How adaptable are our minds

when not as jammed with stuff? The stuff, really,

made up and defined a universe. That gone,

how does anyone, their edifice in ruins,

figure out what’s what? Who’s who?

Oh, yeah, I forgot. We get guides.

Projections of some kind, holographic maybe, 

emerge from an intermediate background,

acting as ushers, easing our passage.

Now, there is just no way I see you as an usher.

More likely, my brother will embrace whatever I am

in a hug like he eschewed at the party.

Smart, generous, funny, a great guide.

If there’s a choice, he’s it.

It seems to me we get a crash course

in language, geography and mathematics

fit to the spanking new universe. Just thinking

about it makes me sad for the one abandoned.

“Not ready yet,” I assume you’ll tell me, or

I wouldn’t feel such a tug. Work to be done,

chip, chip, back in the shop, contributions

still to be made. Wait your turn. Etc.

But how many must I watch depart

before I take off my own overcoat and go? The whole miserable thing,

the losses, the extractions, the whole fucking awareness

that each departure is an opportunity lost.

You can’t take a tactical position anymore. You’re style

is rendered useless in the loss of each succeeding

partner. Which frankly brings us to you.

All I really know is that the walls will come down,

the paint will peel off, the roof collapse. All toys and 

cherished possessions will be like landfill.

What remains is what always was and will be.

Then, if there’s any justice in any heaven,

I will see you, I will see all of you.

I can’t imagine what we’ll do, absent the party.

I have no insight into what we will do,

the party over, the wheels off, the paint melted,

the roof collapsed, every toy banished.

Maybe we were closer than we thought

with all that talking, heaven being

a vast communication center, us the most practiced.

But I don’t know. Sometimes, of course,

I have that clearly confusing awareness

of connections buzzing and bopping 

in a language I don’t understand. Excuse me, Gertrude,

but there is certainly a there there.

Buzzing, humming, bubbling in Swahili

or it might as well be for all I understand, or

is just knowing it’s there enough?

Is that all you get? Is that the news of the hour?

You get to know the whole coruscating edifice

is there, but not shit from Shinola what it’s about?

Sorry I asked. I won’t settle for that. I want

to see you now, not later, to appreciate my brother’s

humor, my mother’s gypsy spirit, my dad’s penetrating

stare into something frightfully like a void.

I will see you later, but you can never stop me

from seeing you now, as the party empties before me,

the wheels come off, the paint melts, the walls erode,

the sky falls. It offends the legacy

to let it go too easy.


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