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Just Practicing


for Alan Ansen


“most delicate hippopotamus of poets”

—Allen Ginsberg



In the yerokomeio in Athens (Yannis e-mails me),

“Alan reads Agatha Christie and the Trib

but can barely hold a pencil, far less write.”

Far less write. “He says he wants to die

but insists on his flu shot, his glass of red

wine, and ice cream!! When I found him

napping at 10.00 a.m. yesterday, he

told me that he was ‘just practicing.’”


Jack Kerouac dubbed you “Rollo Greb,”

“Austin Bromberg,” “Irwin Swenson.”

--dumb names in books. All that’s over now.

Over too the island lecture courses

on “The Poetry of Pound, Eliot, Yeats,

Auden and Ansen” that you once gave.

Over our dispute over diffidence,

I pro, of course, you contra.


I had an old house there once, not far away,

with a view of the Acropolis from my front window

and a pomegranate tree in the courtyard from among

whose roots I dug up a brass pestle

long separated from its mortar,

buried perhaps by some forgotten kid.

They tore it down long ago, my old house.

An upscale polykatoikeia stands there now.


Note: yerokomeio = old age home; polykatoikeia = apartment building. Alan Ansen died on November 12, 2006, at 530 a.m. He is buried in the Jewish Cemetery in Athens.



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