Oyster Boy Review 07  
  September 1997
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» Levee 67

For Joe Bolton

Death of a Poet

Laila Halaby

In memory of Joe Bolton

Picture his face, narrow as a finger,
Asleep underneath the same newspaper,
Which would announce his success like thunder
On a summer night . . . but only after
It announced his death with a gun
And a pint of whiskey. His end was one
Sheet of paper that listed cause of death
As a severe gunshot wound to the head.

But now just picture his tall, lanky frame,
hunched, while his Kentucky voice murmurs . . . Came
Soft words spilling into sonnets, an accent
Tangled up in eloquence never meant
To adorn notebooks other than his own.
There may have been many nights when alone
With his whiskey and the smell of smoking
Knitted into his clothes, he sat painting

American pictures of youthful life
With words. Sadness sliced him like a knife
He transformed into a lively paintbrush
He taught to dance in colors, maybe just
To celebrate simple joys like those in
Days of summer gone . . . but not forgotten.
Troubled man consumed by death; hero, he
Bled words stained with hope he refused to see.