I was so sorry to find out tonight that Josh Keen killed himself late last Monday or early Tuesday, here in Portland. I haven’t published poems on the net for a long time. He numbered among my favorite poets anywhere and I want to acknowledge the loss of all the impossible futures. Thanks for everything you gave, Josh. ~XineAnn

Poem ending with a line from Stephen Crane
after Josh Keen

Night birds. The mood nods.
She listens. Change jingles in a distant pocket,
rounding the corner in its usual path,
turning north at the darkened street lamp
then heading up an alley
to approach from the backside.

The day ends the way a headache goes
when attention wanders.

Lights flicker across each living room, illuminate
a row of stages where one has no role,
where hopeless phantoms pass their nights

watching made-up characters
pretend to have lives.

It ends the way a headache goes.
Not everything is stated:
A smile greets him at the door,
as a shadow passes
through a kitchen window.

The moon impales herself on a deodar:
Tragedy fills a hundred empty stages,

and night birds carry on,
the mockingbird most of all,
his voice insistent.

Insistent and bitter.
But I like it because it is bitter,
and because it is my heart.

~XineAnn, February 2012