The Forgetting





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Published on Feb 4, 2016

The Forgetting
by Forrest Proper

I had packed those remembrances
tightly into a box years ago-
a calendar page torn
from the May 12, 1982
local music section
of the Boston Phoenix,
a ticket stub from a concert at the Paradise
featuring the original Pretenders,
a magic-marker scrawled
‘PS All Ages Shows presents Husker Du
at Pulaski Hall in Easthampton’ handbill,
six dusty cassette tapes-
they were all stuffed in
and duct-tape sealed,
hidden away in the back corner
on the bottom shelf of my closet.

In those days our rock and roll gods
died of overdoses,
not old age,
sweet dreams were made
of hope for a sky-soaring future,
a sky not darkened by clouds
hiding regret-spawned nightmares
of what’s now past.

I sat down to write a poem about that
and my remembrances were sidetracked
by the rhythm of the words
as they clattered over synapses
like frothing stream water over rocks
landing in murky flashback pools;
then they escaped,
and exploded
all over the page.

Your existence is first betrayed
by the catch in my voice
in the fifth line
of the second stanza,
and then it is confirmed by the fact
that by the third stanza
the poem is pouring down my face,
and I’m grasping on the stage
for the comfort of the forgetting.

Give me back the forgetting.
The poem tore it away.

It surprises my friends to learn that
the only pictures I have of you
are in my mind,
images from junior high,
high school,
internships, road trips,
concert gigs, radio daze,
and the day I stood,
silent as the falling snow,
at the cemetery,
on a day which was both
the 25th anniversary of my birth
and the 1st anniversary
of your death.

Those remembrances I had packed
tightly into a box years ago-
trying to learn the forgetting,
forgetting that
after all those days of soaring dreams,
on that hard February night
when you looked up to the stars,
and then you leapt into the sky from
the edge of that Minneapolis bridge,
you knew with absolute clarity
that you could not fly.

copyright 2016 @ Forrest Proper

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