I remember sitting over coffee,
Seeing your beautiful face
Resplendent in the lowering gloom of afternoon sunset.
Lit by the damp electric--
And you snicker that breathless little laugh through your nose, and Johnny say to me he tell me,
"I'm never going to die."
And arrogant I think and I say,
But Johnny I have a poem in mind called:
"To Johnny Who Though He Would Never Die."
And you get a look on Johnny's red bearded face like tears bubble and boil up. And fifteen years later you disappear from your seat--empty--blank--vamoose--gone--out of there, ya dig?
And so I sit here fifteen years on, looking for YOU, Johnny; and now you're raised up to the level of Holy Ghost; adventurer; Virgil; psychopomp; the Immortal Johnny, who walks resplendent with a halo of rumpled cap and a heavenly gown of dark trench coat.
(Like it was Two Thousand and Three.)
And when the lights blink out and this thing in my chest kills me finally, I'll walk the Jesus to Hell Expressway in a tunnel of Hollywood lighting, and reunion with relatives gone on before me; and I'll see YOU there, Johnny; shuffling, shambling, mumbling Johnny.
"There is Johnny."
"There was Johnny."
"There he goes."
(Psychopomp, writer, street magician...)
Behind me move souls twisting in the gentle breeze--
And I'll say,
"There's Gramma and Granpa, and Gramma and Grampa, and Auntie, and Cousin J."
And maybe I'll say to a woman in a wheelchair:
But I should really stop all that.
Because, well, this poem is for JOHNNY.
He Would Never.