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In Memoriam: Elegy for the Fox
[November 30, 1995]

dead in his office yesterday
a hovel jigged with columns of yellowdog pads,
curling manuscripts, this-N-thats askew,
pillars of a life
lived on sweet words
penned by authors,
his hang about, gadabout children & pals.

Listen, he said solemnly,
drawing out each word like gum to its limit,
Random House
does not publish...Joes,
so there it is, Keed,
pick a new name,
publishing is a game,
only the work matters.

We sat one summer in rumples,
crinkled sport coats & stained ties
on the naked edge of house rules
drinking Dom Perignon in Grand style
on the Great Turtle's back, Mackinac,
fresh off the road
from Hemingway's Haunt
The Fox above Seney,
driven, not walked,
red with leaching tannin
sipping scotch from tin cups at sundown
under mosquito clouds blown down from Alberta,
gabbing on a two-track,
then glitz of sorts
the high-price spread,
on his birthday,
I gave him a hat lugged along in a paper sack,
a hat of fox fur made by a Sac-Fax
for the Fox that day I fished the Fox
while Himself sat scratching on a manuscript
our Four-Fox Day.

Today a sunrise the color of native
brook trout meat, flaming
pink and orange, an omen,
maggots wriggling in my spinal fluid,
then the Death Call into the Rust Belt,
tears, an all-day funk,
my feet cement,
shuffling like a Muscovite gotten by the green snake in winter,
brain dead, pickled by grief,
relieved finally in an open wood,
revived by love.

Later, last light under teasing sleet
erupted a long, thin rainbow
wide enough for a Fox
to cross into the next office
cramped with sheaves of paper
and all the words, billions maybe,
awaiting The Editor,
living legend crossed to Legend,
Hey Keed, I tell you about the Andrea Doria?
my friend,
never forgotten.

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