For Mark Bradley, Songwriter & Chef


Walt Whitman is crying.
One of his greatest and most grateful children
       has been taken
       far too early.
Beyond nihilistic smokescreens and MTV’s glare
       of celebrated self-destructiveness,
a few visionary potentials commit their lives
       to figuring out this world
In only 28 pre-aneurism years, Mark had learned
       to bake food and cook lyrics.
But when this world refused to budge,
       his heart left
       to transform the next one.

No—in the death of the young, metaphors
       are never so clear
and fluke tragedies never made sensible.
Sometimes poems are helpless—
       he should never have died,
       this youthful American bard to come,
this bountiful songwriter who actually lived
       according to his song.

Mark was Hub City’s Phil Ochs
       with electrified vocals.
He helped lay bricks along the trail
       to Baldwin’s fire next time,
revived Plath’s most upbeat measures,
       & set Shakespeare’s sweet bird song
       gently upon eternity’s high-tension wires.

O Cathy, though there is nothing we can do,
       ask and we will do it.
Death, prepare an angelic pillow for this soul
       who ought to be a stranger to you still.
Mark, the promise I made to Walt
       at his Camden grave
I make to you—my young friend, poet-brother,
       artist extraordinaire, soul of righteousness—
Down with the multinationals!
Down with their A & R robots with rusted ears!
We will make sure your song is heard!