I heard his manic laugh today
when I saw his book
rain soaked in the gutter.
He had worked so hard on it,
the story of his life.
I knew him in college. He was a street musician.
He could play bluegrass and the mandolin
but he wanted to be a writer.
We all wanted to be writers.
He worked on his writing til it was more than a work in progress.
An agent sold it, a reviewer liked it,
Hollywood optioned it. When the paperback came out
it had the movie stars on the cover.
Young people in the know
made the movie a cult hit.
At dinner at his brownstone apartment
we ate his shrimp entrée and a spinach salad
which his sister criticized as being too wet.
Don’t you hate it she said when people serve
The second book took longer to write.
He had trouble
finding a publisher,
and it was not well received.
Soon it was swallowed up by the remainder houses.
In the meantime, the mass market paperback of the
first book was finding its way
onto street vendors tables for a quarter.
People who tried it put it on their basement racks
for people to share. I heard from others that he was ill,
depressed, then divorced. He died alone.
The book sat there in the rain
like a warning.