Beverly Dahlen & Kevin Killian

In Memoriam:
Daniel Davidson

flowering jade, palms
crossed
as if they were deserts
‘‘over the moon’’
: the voluptuous pain
written into the hand
turned over in
candlelight

reading back from
that edge
the shadows form
beyond our intention
the camera draws back
and the pattern
is framed

one might say
forever
but who can conceive it?
this stilled frame
replaces it

then if we were living
we might go home
if not
forever
if not forever

     --Beverly Dahlen, from Parts of Speech

 

January 28, 1997

Dear Bev—

Your wonderful poem in memory of Dan Davidson struck a melancholy and even angry chord in me. Dodie and I would like to print it in our zine if you haven’t sent it elsewhere or even if you have.

I think it would be apropos.

Hope you’re having a good year—haven’t seen you in 1997, nor Vic either.

Love from—

Kevin Killian

___________________________________________


February 1, 97

Dear Kevin,

Thank you

for that beautiful setting of my poem in memory of Dan D.—yes, of course I’d like you and Dodie to have it, to publish in Mirage—I hoped all along you would want to.

I’m surprised, a little, by your note. Is there something angry in the poem? I thought perhaps not, but I’ll tell you I was angry, I was angry as hell when I found out Dan had died. And I just found out, reading the winter issue of the St. Mark’s newsletter. So that was about three months after the event. And I was angry that no one in my so-called community had bothered to tell me about it before. Naturally I also feel guilty because I don’t keep up the way I used to, so I guess people think I don’t care anymore.

I was very fond of Dan—we worked together—I found his mind tough and convincing, and even beyond comprehension. I hadn’t seen him much in recent years, but then no one had. He didn’t answer my calls. The last time I saw him (maybe he was already becoming a ghost) I thought I saw him in the old Rainbow one day when I was in a rush & I heard my name called & turned and waved at somebody with long hair and a sweatband around his forehead, but I was just running to work & I couldn’t stop and really see, but I thought it was Dan. And a few days later I called his number & left a message, but he didn’t call back.

So I was angry

but I didn’t think that was in the poem

maybe you’re angry for some other, your own, reason?

No

you haven’t seen us much in 97. We’ve been taking care of Vic’s parents a lot & I had to go to Oregon to see my family—but aside from all that, gee I hate to go out after dark in the dead of winter.

Love to you & Dodie

Bev.

PS: I’m just reading Absence Sensorium, the book D.D. wrote w/Tom Mandel. Hard not to ‘‘read [  ] back from
that edge’’

PSS: Thanks for the copy of the current Mirage w/the truly glamorous sexy pic of Lenore Kandel on the cover. B.

___________________________________________


February 4, 1997

Dear Bev—

Got your letter. I did think your poem had anger in it … but probably mostly it was me (I mean ‘‘I’’). The image of the implacable camera, drawing back, until the pattern is framed, seemed to me a remarkable analogy of the way life is taken from us so that death can be revealed.

This ‘‘stilled frame’’ …

I suppose I should apologize for not calling you when Dan died. Truth is, he had been so long out of my life, out of most of our lives, that I quite forgot who he knew and who he didn’t. Just like you, he didn’t answer my calls (I mean, he didn’t answer my calls any more than he answered yours) … luckily I did get to talk with him about six weeks before his death, at a party at Edmund Berrigan’s house. He looked terrible, very gray and ashen. Hardly the same handsome and insouciant man who had been cutting me for years.

The ‘‘Proliferation’’ reading at Small Press Traffic followed a few days later (after his death) … ironically he was supposed to read at that reading. I hadn’t heard him read in years and was looking forward to it. All the other readers turned it into a kind of tribute to Dan which was very well done. Then there was the memorial at The Lab. I don’t know what happened with him. Your poem brings up all the things I don’t know and no longer can know—thanks …

and—

Love from—

Kevin Killian

+ thanks for letting us print your poem (probably next issue)!!

___________________________________________


February 12, 1997

Dear Kevin,

It turns out that the ‘‘image of the implacable camera’’ pretty nearly always = death in my writing. And I guess it is angry, ambivalent at least, about the way the camera ‘‘takes’’ the picture—I share the dread of those people who believe the camera steals one’s soul. But more than that, it’s the art-making process itself about which I’m ambivalent, ‘‘the perfect shot’’ (see my poem-on-a-postcard called ‘‘The Main Idea’’) that replaces the banality and crudity and cruelty and stupidity of the world. But not really of course. So that’s when I resent art, that’s when it seems to be a lie. The ‘‘stilled frame’’ pretends to be an image of ‘‘forever’’—but my puritan soul revolts—one wants to be an iconoclast at this point, or adopt the muslim prohibition of imagery.

But that you for your helpful letter. I had meant to go to that, because, like you, I hadn’t heard of Dan’s giving a reading anywhere for a long time. If I’d been there, I would have know about his death. Pat Reed told me about it, how the other readers turned it into a memorial, and about the memorial at the Lab. What happened—the date slipped my mind and I made another date on top of it. Ah, well. Let it go.

Dan had his reasons for dying, and in fact I always thought he was a marked man. He had a leaky heart valve, had just had the surgery to replace it when I first knew him. But apparently he was facing the same surgery again. I knew he lived with incredible pain, had to take codeine every day to ward off migraines. Once he had told Pat that he wanted to keep suicide open as an option. And that was that.

Thanks for ‘‘Mirage’’—my best to you, and

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Dodie!

With love,

Bev.

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