Jim Carroll died last Friday
Jim Carroll, punk rocker and poet died last Friday. While the obits stress his authorship of The Basketball Diaries (the Chicago Tribune says of it: "But it was "The Basketball Diaries," his autobiographical tale of life as a sports star at Trinity, an elite private high school in Manhattan, that brought him his widest audience. The son of a bar owner, Carroll attended the school on a basketball scholarship"), I found his work through his poetry, especially Void of Course (which is a great title) and Fear of Dreaming (also a great title). Here's one poem, from Void of Course which moves me deeply each time I read it:
My Father's Last Words
On his death bed
He reached up and grabbed my wrist
Pulling me close so I could hear he said.
"Promise me that you'll never eat
Any of that Japanese food. Promise."
It may sound racist and perhaps it is
but keep in mind my father spent all
Of World War II fighting in the Pacific
Mainly the island of Saipan.
I myself admire the Japanese, but
As they themselves would well appreciate,
I must honor my father's last wishes.
The irony is I've never liked Japanese food.
The irony is that
At his funeral,
The Priest that said
Mass was Japanese.
And, from Fear of Dreaming,
Fear of Dreaming
Too many teeth
In this city
What I want is to sleep
inside a strange language.
The bonsai, under glass,
........................................its redolent needles
clipped precise as The Buddha's fingernails.
Yet, I'm nervous to sleep. Afraid to dream
And fearful as well of waking too late.
Wary at the end of this century,
Its bloodthirsty and dead weight.