Sunday, November 01, 2009

Jack Wiler 1951-2009

Looking for God in Downtown Jersey City

The soul tonight is a shopping bag
Floating lightly above a rusted gate.
I found it on my kitchen counter weighted down with
mustard and toilet paper.
I emptied out the garbage and when my back was turned
the soul fled
lifted up on the wind and out over fourth street
through the streets of Jersey City
people look up cross themselves
their eyes bright for an instant
The soul reflecting back pure white.
Dogs and children see it and laugh for a moment
we are all of us full and clean and
pure in the reflected glory of the plastic soul
we have glimpsed for just a moment.
Then it's gone.
A child steps back for a chance at a second look
At something else
white and plastic and high above us
that we can admire as not of our bodies.
(from I Have No Clue, Long Shot Productions, 1996)

Got the news today of Jack Wiler's passing last month. Jack read for us in Hoboken in 2004. Jessica de Koninck, our featured reader today, paid tribute to Jack by reading his excellent "Belief Systems" at Symposia bookstore, in the same room he'd presented it five years ago. It's a poem that has inspired with grateful attribution several other poems -- at least one of which has also been heard in Hoboken.

I didn't know Jack all that well, other than through his work and the praise that it and he received whenever his name came up among NJ poets.

Jack's book Fun Being Me ends with these words:

But it's God's world and it's His noise and it never stops.
It would be sweet if all of God's names were names we know.
It would be sweet.

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