"Remember the Puns & Brashbrandy" by Matt Gonzalez

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April 26, 2022 

Remember the Puns & Brashbrandy

Matt Gonzalez
for Jack Hirschman (1933-2021)

The words always came running out of your mouth
Tumbling, galloping
Pushing against one another as they took the final turn
The last hundred meters
Where form is lost 
& everyone becomes a futurist
Sacred words split into syllables & break apart
Yours never had wings affixed to them
Only the hammer & sickle 
Harnessed with gumshoe & printing press
Long gray hair alighting from your form
& that gait you had
As if you’d been riding motorcycles all night long
Bowlegged, rickety even 
Probably from kicking fascists in your sleep 
& the other death-headed sorts
You had the sparkle, loud & lavish laughter
Bellowing even
A clamor to stoke awake the fires inside
& push against the fulcrum of the dreadful state
In time, overtaken by the glow & tether of your arcanes
Where life mingled with apparitions 
It’s how you made memory & the present inseparable
Obsecrating all those pages turned 
Dog-eared & brittle after a stretch
To lay words before us, like crumbs
Four thousand pages later
Leaving a richer trail
I remember the raddled years
When you lived like a pauper
Grinning wide & showing off your crooked teeth
More beautiful than any others
The final words I whispered to you
That was wonderful 
Are still ringing in your ears
Though vibrating waves of compression
& rarefactions are dust now
Just in case, let me say it again
That was wonderful

Copyright © 2022 by Matt Gonzalez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 26, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

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“I wrote ‘Remember the Puns & Brashbrandy’ about my dear friend of thirty years, the poet Jack Hirschman, former poet laureate of San Francisco. Jack was a committed Marxist who understood and fought against imperialism, capitalism, racism, sexism, and the carceral state. He was a beautiful human being and friend to the downtrodden.”
Matt Gonzalez

Matt Gonzalez is the author of Beauty Will Be Convulsive (FMSBW, 2020). He lives in San Francisco.
Beauty Will Be Convulsive
(FMSBW, 2020)


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Thanks to Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Cast Away: Poems for Our Time (Greenwillow Books, 2021), who curated Poem-a-Day for this month’s weekdays. Listen to a Q&A about Nye’s curatorial approach and find out more about our guest editors for the year.
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