Friday, July 30, 2010

Played Twice

Played Twice
to Chris

—Thelonious, why don’t you play anymore?
—I don’t feel like it.

Take One

Who will listen now?           
The wheel is broken.
You went to sleep
and will not awake,
fragments of the perfect plan
—shards, your

Broken glass for a cup.
Tired arm filthy
attempting to lift

I ask the void,
yearn empty,
cry nothing.

Take Two

Who will speak now?
—from a marble lip?
I hide behind a face
put on for a no show
amid new wreckage.

Same old lament
never to climb over.
A ladder of tears is not
kicked away.
I want a clear morning.
I’m not strong enough
for this night.

Chris Al-Aswad, my colleague, teacher and friend, has passed away, leaving a void that can never be filled. As the dynamo behind Escape into Life, he was the eyes and ears to scores of artists and writers. Praise from Chris was no ordinary occasion. Initially it was cause for celebration and later it was confidence-building nourishment. I loved him more than I acknowledged or even realized. Chris, I will never forget you.


  1. There could be no better tribute to Chris than these words.
    Why is the most talented of us leave so early? I don't know. A sad fact of life that the stars that burn most brightly go dark so fast.
    My thoughts are with you Mark.

  2. I only discovered him through you, Mark. My heart goes out to you. It's so hard to lose someone you love and respect.

    Gorgeous tribute.

  3. This is achingly beautiful, Mark. I don't use the term rare lightly, but Chris was indeed rare. And sadly, the void will never answer.

    But you are rare, too. And you nourished him, too. Just as you do so many of us who turn to you for gifts like this one. Healing gifts. Thank you.

  4. Great tribute. Keep sharing. Memories live forever.

  5. A beautiful tribute to one who touched you so greatly. My thoughts are with you.

  6. Beautiful poem from Chris --

    Who will speak now?
    —from a marble lip?
    I hide behind a face
    put on for a no show
    amid new wreckage

    Who indeed? Prayers for you, for Chris, for all of us -- a real loss, one especial to you.


  7. Thank you for such a beautiful tribute!

    "I ask the void,
    yearn empty,
    cry nothing."

    What to do with this void, dear Chris, my friend & mentor?


  8. dear mark- please accept my condolences on the loss of your friend. this poem is beautiful and i know he cherishes it mightily.
    i was so glad i got a chance to connect with chris and his wonderful poetry through LJ...
    take care, my friend.

  9. Mark - I thought I had already commented on your post, but realize now that I didn't. This is a beautiful tribute to Chris. My condolences and hugs to you.

  10. Such a wonderful tribute with meaningful words that convey the emotion felt.
    My condolences...hoping that memories of better times will give you peace of heart and soul.
    ☮ ♥ Siggi in Downeast Maine