Beverly Dahlen & Kevin Killian
flowering jade, palms
as if they were deserts
over the moon
: the voluptuous pain
written into the hand
turned over in
reading back from
the shadows form
beyond our intention
the camera draws back
and the pattern
one might say
but who can conceive it?
this stilled frame
then if we were living
we might go home
if not forever
--Beverly Dahlen, from Parts of Speech
January 28, 1997
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 havent sent it elsewhere or even if you have.
I think it would be apropos.
Hope youre having a good yearhavent seen you in 1997, nor Vic either.
February 1, 97
for that beautiful setting of my poem in memory of Dan D.yes, of course Id like you and Dodie to have it, to publish in MirageI hoped all along you would want to.
Im surprised, a little, by your note. Is there something angry in the poem? I thought perhaps not, but Ill 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. Marks 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 dont keep up the way I used to, so I guess people think I dont care anymore.
I was very fond of Danwe worked togetherI found his mind tough and convincing, and even beyond comprehension. I hadnt seen him much in recent years, but then no one had. He didnt 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 couldnt stop and really see, but I thought it was Dan. And a few days later I called his number & left a message, but he didnt call back.
So I was angry
but I didnt think that was in the poem
maybe youre angry for some other, your own, reason?
you havent seen us much in 97. Weve been taking care of Vics parents a lot & I had to go to Oregon to see my familybut aside from all that, gee I hate to go out after dark in the dead of winter.
Love to you & Dodie
PS: Im just reading Absence Sensorium, the book D.D. wrote w/Tom Mandel. Hard not to read [ ] back from
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
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 didnt. Just like you, he didnt answer my calls (I mean, he didnt 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 Berrigans 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 hadnt 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 dont know what happened with him. Your poem brings up all the things I dont know and no longer can knowthanks
+ thanks for letting us print your poem (probably next issue)!!
February 12, 1997
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 pictureI share the dread of those people who believe the camera steals ones soul. But more than that, its the art-making process itself about which Im 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 thats when I resent art, thats when it seems to be a lie. The stilled frame pretends to be an image of foreverbut my puritan soul revoltsone 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 hadnt heard of Dans giving a reading anywhere for a long time. If Id 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 happenedthe 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 Miragemy best to you, and
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Dodie!
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